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Carnival in Rio 2018 – Gay Event Schedule

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Festive block parties, chic nightclub events, and over-the-top Samba parades … Carnival in Rio de Janeiro has a multitude of fun experiences for gay travelers.  (And, you can heat things up even more with our listings of Rio de Janeiro’s gay saunas and sex clubs!) Here’s the full list of gay-friendly events for Carnival 2018!  Leave your feedback for VamosGay via email, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.



Sat Jan 13
3PM – 8PM
Location:
Centro
Google Map »
Bloco Toco Xona: Pre-Carnival
One of the the most popular blocos for girls-who-like-girls, Bloco Toco Xona welcomes gay boys too!  This year, Toco Xona will celebrate their 10 year anniversary.  Learn more from our guide to LGBT blocos.
Sat Jan 20
3PM – 8PM
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Banda de Ipanema
In the heart of gay Ipanema, this banda is biggest of all of the gay-friendly blocos.  Learn more from our guide to LGBT-friendly blocos.
Sat Jan 27
3PM – 8PM
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Banda de Ipanema
One more pre-Carnival bloco which is sure to pack the streets around Ipanema beach.  After the street party winds down, catch the sunset on the beach, have a shower, and try dinner at Felice.
Date TBD
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Simpatia é Quase Amor
Get in the spirit with this pre-Carnival bloco from the free-spirited Simpatia e Quase Amor.  Learn more about them from our guide to LGBT-friendly blocos. So far, this bloco has not provided a date and time for 2018, but we hope to have an update soon.
Sun Feb 4
9:30A-1:30P
Location:
Centro
Google Map »
Bloco Fogo e Paixão
This bloco of “fire and passion” is very queer friendly … and a great place to warm-up your party muscles before Bloco da Preta.  Event info, and video of a past Fogo e Paixao block party.
Sun Feb 4
8AM- 1PM
Location:
Centro
Google Map »
Bloco da Preta
The biggest gay-friendly pre-Carnival bloco featuring singer Preta Gil.  Carnival organizers estimate attendance of 400,00!  The warm-up starts at 8am, but the parade will “launch” at 10am.
Fri Feb 9
11:PM
Location:
The Week RJ
Google Map »
Carnaval at The Week
Carnival opens with a bang at Rio’s biggest and best gay nightclub.  DJs keep the sweaty dance floors moving at The Week.
Sat Feb 10
3PM – 9PM
Location:
TBD
Google Map »
Bloco Toco Xona (unconfirmed)
By the girls, and for the girls!  This bloco is known for its skilled female Carnival drummers.  Gay guys are always welcome to join in on the fun.
Sat Feb 10
5 :30PM
Location:
Centro
Google Map »
Banda de Ipanema
The first of three Carnival week blocos from the biggest GLS/LGBT-friendly banda in Rio.  Catch them again on Monday and Tuesday. Learn more about Banda da Ipanema from our guide to GLS blocos.
Date TBD
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Simpatia é Quase Amor
Get a second shot of peace-and-love, as this gay-friendly bloco returns to Ipanema.  The start time is 2pm, but this laid-back Sunday parade will start … whenever it starts.
Sun Feb 11
1PM – 1AM
Location:
Mansão Carioca
Google Map »
Joy Party at Mansão Carioca
The party continues at the gorgeous mansion known as Mansao Carioca.  Enjoy the line-up of DJs by the pool and check out the eye candy. Highly recommended!
Event info & tickets
Mon Feb 12
Time TBD
Location:
Centro
Google Map »
Bloco Bunytos de Corpo (TBD)
Jazzercize your way down to Praça Tiradentes for a bizarre (yet fun) gay-friendly bloco celebrating the fitness craze of the ’80s.  (Note: Bunytos de Corpo has not officially announced anything for 2017, but they do enjoy surprises.  We’ll update this listing ASAP.)
Mon Feb 12
4PM
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Banda de Ipanema
Return to Praça General Osório for more samba, good vibes.  This Monday edition will be kid-friendly
Date TBD
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Simpatia é Quase Amor
Free-spirited bloco brings everyone together to parade through Praça General Osório.  Check our guide to LGBT-friendly blocos for more on Simpatia é Quase Amor.
Tue Feb 13
5:30PM
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Banda da Ipanema
Carnival Tuesdays can to be slow.  Spend a relaxing day on the beach, find a gay friendly restaurant for lunch then hang out in Ipanema for one last party with the Banda.
Tue Feb 13
6PM
Location:
Lapa
Google Map »
Banda das Quengas
What’s more fun than a slut-walk?  A block party of whores!  (That’s the literal translation of this bloco‘s name.)  Your excuse to dress like a five dollar hooker and get drunk in the streets has arrived.  (Start time not confirmed yet.  Will update this listing when it’s official.)
Tue Feb 13
11PM
Location:
Scala Rio
Google Map »
Scala Gay Ball
The grande finale of Carnival!  Located in the Scala nightclub with three sections, DJs, live samba, food and drinks.  Doors open before midnight, but 1AM is a better time to arrive.  Learn more info on the Scala Rio Gay Ball.
Tue Feb 28
All-Night
Location:
Everywhere
Google Map »
Hit the Bars!
Every gay bar in Rio will be running some sort of promotion.  If you choose to skip the Scala, you can still have a fun time.  (And don’t forget, the gay saunas will be open for those looking for a different kind of fun before Ash Wednesday when Carnival is officially over.)

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Scala Rio Gay Ball

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Carnival events in Rio de Janeiro can be placed into one of three categories:

  • blocos da rua – These are block parties originally organized by neighborhood groups.  One of the oldest, Banda de Ipanema, is also a gay-friendly bloco
  • bailes (formal indoor balls) – These cabaret-style balls are a long standing tradition with food, drinks, and amazing live performances.
  • parada / desfile – Huge spectacular parade in which escolas de samba (Samba schools) compete for the grand prize in Rio’s massive Sambadrome arena.

The Scala Rio Gay Ball is a baile (one of its many names is the Baile Gay do Rio Scala.)  During Carnival, many balls are held at the Scala Rio nightclub, but they save the best (and most fabulous for last.)

Getting There / Getting Tickets

In 2018, The Scala Rio Gay Ball will take place on Tuesday, February 13.  Doors open at 11:00PM, but we recommend entering after midnight.  There are many blocos nearby in the Cinelândia neighborhood.  There are various levels of tickets: one is general admission that gives access to an open-bar and snacks (R$118 = US$35), the others are VIP levels that have full dinner and a separate area (prices vary.)

Some websites offer tickets, but we recommend ordering them through the front desk of your hotel.  Any of the hotels on our list of gay-friendly hotels in Rio will be happy to assist!

The Scala Rio nightclub is easily accessible via Metro (the Cinelândia station connects with stops in Copacabana and Ipanema.)  Consult our Google Map of gay Rio.

What to Expect

The Scala Rio Gay Ball began as a costume ball, but over the years the rules have loosened.  Some attendees pull out all the stops with Vegas showgirl style drag, or full S&M leather gear.  Superhero costumes are increasingly popular as well as spooky outfits you might expect for Halloween.  Attendees are free to not wear costumes, so throw on a festive hat and you’ll be welcome to join the fun.

If you enter at midnight, the ball will appear a bit lame.  The fabulous people are still out partying in the streets.  However, if you are with a group, it is a good hour to relax a bit and enjoy the free drinks.  You can also watch the red carpet full of travestis in full drag regalia.  At the entrance of the Scala Rio nightclub, camera crews will be set up to broadcast the over-the-top drag queens.

The main hall has a DJ and the dance floor can get crowded.  Once the live samba band takes the stage, the true feeling of Brazilian carnival takes over.  The atmosphere is very friendly, full of Brazilians and tourists looking to have a good time.

The crowd is a mix of ages, but men over 40 will feel very comfortable.  Gays who are looking for a circuit party where they can dance until dawn with their shirts off will be much happier at The Week.

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Gay Carnival “Blocos” of Rio de Janeiro

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The massive parades held in Rio de Janeiro’s arena known as the Sambadrome are the most recognized symbols of Brazilian Carnival around the world.

However, visitors and locals alike can tell you Rio’s smaller blocos da rua (street block parties) are much more fun … and much gayer!  Almost every bloco is infused with a small amount of playful sexuality and gender fluidity.  But, a handful of blocos are widely recognized as gay-friendly (or GLS, the Portuguese acronym for gay, lesbian, and sympathizers.)

Bring your camera as pumped up boys and extra-fabulous drag queens are plentiful.  You will also find loads of visual arts, live music, and satirical social commentary.  In 2018, expect to see many costumes satirizing issues that may go over your head as a foreigner (expect lots of parodies of current Brazilian president Michel Temer and Rio’s mayor Marcelo Crivella.)

To navigate all of these blocos (and find bars, clubs, restaurants, and gay-friendly hotels) use this link to the VamosGay Google Map of Gay Rio 🌎

Banda de Ipanema

The biggest of all of the GLS blocos, Banda de Ipanema is as colorful and gay as the neighborhood they call home.  Founded in 1964, this banda boldly marched at a time when flamboyance was truly dangerous.   Banda de Ipanema blocos are extremely popular, so be prepared to drink and be merry with thousands of other revelers.

Here are their confirmed dates for 2018.  All take place at Praça General Osório, located in the heart of Ipanema.
Sat, Jan 20     5PM – 10PM     Pre-Carnival
Sat, Jan 27     5PM – 10PM     Pre-Carnival
Sat, Feb 10       5:30PM start    Carnival
Mon, Feb 12       5:30PM start    Carnival (kid-friendly)
Tue, Feb 13      5:30PM start    Carnival
Sat, Feb 17       5:30PM start    Post-Carnival tribute

Bloco da Preta

The daughter of Brazilian music legend Gilberto Gil, and an extremely popular musician in her own right, Preta Gil is the mistress of ceremonies for one of Rio’s biggest pre-Carnival blocos. Preta’s gay following is massive, and months before Bloco da Preta there are pre-bloco parties held at nightclubs across Brazil.  The city of Rio de Janeiro estimates Bloco da Preta  attracted nearly 40,000 revelers in 2017.  Expect a large percentage of gays on Sunday, Feb 4, 2018.  The bloco will be downtown at Rua Premeiro do Marco.

Banda das Quengas

In Portugues, quenga means “whore,” although because so much of the sex is free, maybe “slut” would be a better translation.  The dress code for a bloco das quengas draws inspiration from cheap street hookers. Here’s a photo gallery to give you a better idea.  The atmosphere is liberada – free from the rules of society, free from what anyone thinks.

These quengas are fun, but not organized enough to set up a website.  So, we’ll let you know where to find them on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.  Their bloco is scheduled to startson Avenida Mem da Sá in the Lapa district.



Cordão da Bola Preta

This is the best reason to break out of the gay tourist bubble of Ipanema/Copacabana!  This well-established group has a massive presence in Centro (downtown) which is mostly straight, but gays are always welcomed.  Check the Bola Preta website (in Portuguese) for their full agenda of blocos for 2018 (and congratulate them on their 100 year anniversary!)   Outside of Carnival, Bola Preta’s feijoada parties with live musicians are a great way to start a Saturday night.

Simpatia é Quase Amor

Back in the heart of Ipanema, the group Simpatia é Quase Amor has more of a hippy vibe where gays are part of a gigantic rainbow where everyone is has a good time.  In 2018, the start times for both events is 2PM, but expect to hang out and drink before the parade actually starts moving.  Join Simpatia é Quase Amor before Carnival, and during Carnival week. Both events take place in Ipanema’s Praça General Osório.

Bloco Toco Xona

By the girls, and for the girls … Bloco Toco Xona is famous for its female bateristas (Carnival drummers.)  Gay boys are welcome too!  For 2017, catch their pre-Carnival show will start at Praça Joia Valansi in the Botofogo district.

Bunytos de Corpo

This  is a very camp, humorous, performance art group whose aesthetics are based on physical fitness craze of the 1980’s.  Leotards, leg warmers, headbands, athletic shorts, and more!  Get physical with Bunytos de Corpo as they run (and drink) through Praça Tiradentes.

Agytoê

Drawing inspiration from ancient Egypt for both their fashion and their decadent approach to celebrations.  Agytoê gets little press outside of Brazil, but you will recognize them (and their devotees) when you see them in downtown Rio on the final night of Carnival.  Dressed in black and gold, they express their art through music and dance, drawing in everyone who passes by.  Start time is still TBD. 

Bars & Clubs

Aside from the blocos in the street, there are more formal bailes (balls.)  The official baile is the Scala Rio Gay Ball.

One last cheap-and-easy option to just drop by any gay bar during Carnival.  Use our list of gay bars and clubs of Rio to find the right one for you.  And, if you haven’t booked your room for Rio yet (hurry up!) and use our list of the city’s gay-friendly hotels.

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View full day-to-day schedule »

Gay Couple Ejected By Homophobic Driver in Rio

A 36 year-old businessman will file a claim with the organization “Rio Without Homophobia” against a driver hailed using the 99taxis app (a popular alternative to Uber in Latin America.)

The plaintiff and his boyfriend were ejected from the car in the dead of the night on Avenida Almirante Barroso in downtown Rio.  The reason for expelling the couple?  One boyfriend fell asleep during the ride resting his head on the other’s shoulder.

They claim the driver informed them “I think you better leave.  I don’t want perversion in my car.”  as reported by Brazilian newspaper O Globo.

The couple had just left the popular Carnival bloco “Bunytos de Corpo” at 2AM.

The story of the homophobic 99taxis driver sparked a firestorm on Brazilian social media.  Shortly thereafter, 99taxis issued a statement in a follow up story by O Globo announcing that the driver in question had been dismissed.

View Our Gay Guide to Rio de Janeiro »