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Carnival in Rio 2017 – 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 2017!  Leave your feedback for VamosGay via email, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Sat Feb 4
3PM – 8PM
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Banda da 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 Feb 11
3PM – 8PM
Location:
Ipanema
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 Feb 11
3PM – 8PM
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Banda da 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.
Sat Feb18
2PM – 8PM
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.
Sun Feb 19
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 19
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.
Sat Feb 24
11PM – 7AM
Location:
Scala Rio
Google Map »
Viemos do Egyto – Masked Ball
Drawing inspiration from ancient Egypt for both their fashion and their decadent approach to celebrations. Tickets and info on Facebook.  Learn more from our guide to GLS blocos.
Fri Feb 24
11:PM
Location:
The Week RJ
Google Map »
Masterbeat Magic at The Week
Carnival opens with a bang as DJs Ana Paula, Brett Henrichsen (Masterbeat-USA) Tommy Love, and more keep the sweaty dance floors moving at The Week.
Fri Feb 24
6PM – 6AM
Location:
Sambadrome
Google Map »
Treta’s Carnival Friday at Sambadrome Sapucaí
Take a break from the street blocos and party inside the exclusive lounge of the Sambadrome, the massive arena which is home to the city’s grand Carnival parade.  Info and tickets on Facebook
Sat Feb 25
3PM – 9PM
Location:
Praia do Flamengo 340
Google Map »
Bloco Toco Xona
By the girls, and for the girls!  This bloco is known for its skilled female Carnival drummers.  Gay guys are welcome to join them for their 10 anniversary.
Sat Feb 25
2:30PM
Location:
Solar de Santa
Google Map »
Joy Party at Solar de Santa – Day One
The “beautiful people” come together in Santa Tereza for a party with awesome DJs.  Solar do Santa is a stunning colonial mansion with great views of Rio.  Partying into the sunset here is highly recommended. Event info
Sat Feb 25
5 :30PM
Location:
Centro
Google Map »
Banda da 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.
Sat Feb 26
11PM
Location:
The Week RJ
Google Map »
Forever Tel Aviv “So Happy” at The Week
Dance until dawn with the circuit boys at The Week on a night featuring an lineup of DJs from across the globe.
Sun Feb 26
2PM
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 26
2:30PM
Location:
Solar de Santa
Google Map »
Joy Party at Solar de Santa – Day Two
The party continues at the gorgeous colonial mansion known as Solar de Santa.  Enjoy the line-up of DJs by the pool and check out the eye candy. Highly recommended! Event info
Sun Feb 26
2:30PM
Location:
Solar de Santa
Google Map »
Sunday Night at 00 (Zero Zero)
Staying in Copacabana or Ipanema?  Take a short cab ride to Gavea for a night at 00 (pronounced “zero zero”)  An attractive, young (yet mature) crowd of straight and gay Brazilians can be found every Sunday in any of 00’s indoor and outdoor spaces.
Mon Feb 27
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 27
4PM
Location:
Ipanema
Google Map »
Banda da Ipanema
Return to Praça General Osório for more samba, good vibes, and boys from Ipanema.
Mon Feb 27
11PM
Location:
Vivo Rio
Google Map »
The Week Presents: Abel at Vivo Rio
DJ Abel headlines a party too big to be contained by The Week.  Head over to the Vivo Rio space for the massive party.  It will be the place to be on Monday night.
Tue Feb 28
2PM – 8PM
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 28
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 28
6PM
Location:
Lapa
Google Map »
Banda das Quengas (TBD)
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 28
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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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 2017, expect to see many costumes satirizing issues that may go over your head as a foreigner (like nation’s new president Michel Temer, or even the pesky mosquito carrying the zika virus.)

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 2017.  All take place at Praça General Osório, located in the heart of Ipanema.
Sat, Jan 23     5PM – 10PM     Pre-Carnival
Sat, Feb 25       5:30PM start    Carnival
Tue, Feb 28      5:30PM start    Carnival

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 will attract nearly 40,000 revelers in 2017.  Expect a large percentage of gays.  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 for Carnival 2017.  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 2017.   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 2017, 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.

Viemos do Egyto

Drawing inspiration from ancient Egypt for both their fashion and their decadent approach to celebrations.  Viemos do Egyto 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.  More background on the Viemos do Egyto (in Portuguese) via O Globo.

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 Guide to Carnival 2018 in Rio de Janeiro

In 2018, Carnival will begin on Friday, February 9 and run through a wild extended weekend to Tuesday, February 13.  The day after is Ash Wednesday when the parties are over (for the most part) and you will find the streets of Rio de Janeiro quietly getting back to normal. Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is considered the world’s largest, hosting approximately two million participants per day. In 2004, Rio’s carnival attracted a record 400,000 foreign visitors.

Getting There & Where to Stay

Purchasing a package of a flight including a hotel stay can be a great way to save money.  (Expedia has some of the cheapest package deals we have found with international flights to Brazil.)  However, for those who want to book flights separately, try the following.

For lodging, Booking.com remains the best, cheapest, way to find both hotels and flats (with Expedia ranking a close 2nd.)  Visit our full list of gay-friendly places to stay in Rio de Janeiro by clicking on the link below.

View all gay-friendly hotels in Rio »

Day-By-Day Schedule to Carnival 2018

Hopefully, you can arrive before Carnival week (and stay after.)  By January, Rio will be in full swing.  Visit any of the gay bars and clubs on our list and you will find a good time.  Click below for the past list of gay blocos, nightclub events, and parades from 2017.  It will give you an idea of what to expect in 2018.  (We’ll update this listing as soon as detailed info on 2018 becomes available.)

View full gay Carnival schedule »

Travel Tips

To keep this section short, our guide will assume you know how to navigate the dangers of big cities and foreign countries.  Download digital version of Lonely Planet: Rio de Janeiro for the best English-language guide to the city, and a good source for basic travel tips.

  • Mobile data – research the international data packages provided by your carrier.  In Brazil, SIM cards with data plans are cheap and easy to activate.  As a foreigner, you can activate and use SIM cards from TIM, Claro, and Oi.  We recommend Claro. Read our guide to SIM cards and mobile plans for foreigners visiting Brazil.
  • Bring a 2nd phone.  That iPhone 4S in your drawer is perfect for navigating the city with apps.  Phone theft is rampant in blocos and nightclubs.  It can also hold your new Brazilian SIM card.
  • Google Maps – pre-plan your route (by foot or Metro) and save them “offline” maps.  Download our Google Map now.
  • Bring your drivers license to nightclubs.  ID is required on occasion.  Dragging around your passport is not necessary.
  • Avoid mosquitos – Aside from dengue fever, many mosquitos in Brazil are now carrying the zika virus.  Bring your own DEET mosquito repellent .  Pharmacies in Rio sell the cheap stuff.
  • Debit/credit cards – Highly recommend one with a “chip.”  Credit card cloning is still a problem in South America.  A pre-paid Visa for small purchases and hotel guarantees is a good idea.
  • Ask your front desk – All of the hotels on our list of gay-friendly places to stay in Rio know the city and are happy to help.  Use them!
  • Watch your drink! – Criminals who drug tourists usually target women, but in Brazil gay men are often targets.
  • Be careful who you bring back to your hotel – At some hotels, you can walk directly to your elevator, some may ask for ID from your guest(s)  When in doubt, you can always go to one of Rio’s many gay saunas.
  • Wear shoes – Yes, your new Havaiana flip flops are cute, but the streets will be come a muddy mess of spilled beer and urine.
  • Don’t sweat every little expense – The club that wants to charge a cover of R$20 … That’s about US$6.50 right now.   Splurge!
  • Be OK with the fact you won’t see it all – Don’t overload your agenda.  Make a note of what you would like to come back for in 2018.

Online Resources During Carnival 2018

Get info and ask questions by following VamosGay on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  Or, leave a comment below!

Sign-up for Gay Carnival in Rio Newsletter

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This gay guide to Carnival in Rio will give you everything you need to plan your trip before you go, and all of the information you need during Carnival week.  Bookmark vamosgay.com/carnival-rio on web and mobile!

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 2017, The Scala Rio Gay Ball will take place on Tuesday, February 28.  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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