Rio de Janeiro street Carnival - free, widespread fun in several neighborhoods with hundreds of blocos, or Carnival groups, is turning up the heat this weekend.
Tonight, Escravos da Mauá, one of the blocos in the Sebastiana association, will host their traditional Réveillon, a late New Year's Eve street party (wear white!) starting at 6 p.m. at Largo de São Francisco da Prainha (Rua Sacadura Cabral, s/n - Zona Portuária).
On Sunday, starting at 8 a.m., there's the non-official opening of Rio de Janeiro Carnival 2013 at Praça XV de Novembro, in Centro, with about 20 blocos.
Also on Sunday, at 6 p.m., Simpatia é Quase Amor, another Sebastiana bloco, will throw a party at Quiosque Globo Rio, on beachfront Avenida Atlântica near Rua Miguel Lemos, in Copacabana.
Still-new Fuzuê, from Ilha do Governador, parading in its fifth Carnival this year, will kickstart their fun with a roda de samba Sunday at 1 p.m. at Quiosque Pier 39, on Praia da Bica in Ilha do Governador.
The bloco, whose name is a slang term meaning a party or a mess, is a good example of the vigor of Rio de Janeiro street Carnival. This year, their parade godmother is 92-year-old Dodô da Portela, a former flag-bearer and a beloved member of the samba school's famous Velha Guarda (Old Guard). "I'm very happy to join these kids," said Dodô in a press release. "Carnival is a good festival to enjoy in the street."
If you're in Rio on Jan.12, don't miss the IV Circuito de Blocos e Bandas na Zona Portuária. The gathering will start at Largo do São Francisco da Prainha at 3 p.m. and the bloco lineup is on Rio's Official Tourism Guide.
Also add to your pre-Carnival schedule the amazing technical rehearsals at the Sambódromo - this weekend marks the start of the rehearsal season for the samba schools in the Special Group, Rio's best.