Updated on Feb.9, 2013.
Carnival Sunday in Rio de Janeiro is packed with free street parades, many of them in the most touristic areas. The top picks for Feb.10, 2013 include an opening and a closing in style with Banga and Cacique de Ramos respectively.
- 7 a.m. - Bangalafumenga, Flamengo
Where: Aterro do Flamengo/Parque do Flamengo
Ruling this time of day on Carnival Sunday is Bangalafumenga, one of the top attractions in Rio de Janeiro street Carnival. A favorite with the young crowd, the bloco is parading earlier this year. The music is a mix of rhythms played by a fine drum section.
- 9 a.m. - Cordão do Boitatá, Centro
Where: Praça XV
When something as authentic and upbeat as Cordão do Boitatá rises in the Carnival horizon, people follow. Some feel the bloco is getting too large, but who's going to miss out and sacrifice their fun for the greater good? Marchinhas and amazing samba with some of the best musicians in Brazil get everyone dancing at the mega open-air party. Wearing a costume is not mandatory, but it's what nearly everyone does and part of the privilege. The 2013 Carnival Sunday event will be a desfile parado, or a party which will stay put instead of parading.
- 9 a.m. - Areia, Leblon
Starting Point: Charming Rua Dias Ferreira is where Areia do Leblon (Leblon Sand) goes out, joining locals and friends of all ages, skilled samba musicians and samba dancers. With its not-so-huge crowd and safe atmosphere, Areia is a perfect choice for the first-timer in Rio de Janeiro street Carnival. Watch an Areia parade video on YouTube. This year the parade will again start on the corner of Dias Ferreira and General Urquiza.
- 9 a.m. - Sassaricando, Centro
Where: Praça XV
Sassaricando, an amazing musical celebrating marchinhas, has yielded this bloco with a top-rate band, this year partying at the same spot as Cordão do Boitatá.
- 10 a.m. - Que Caquinha é Essa?, Ipanema
Where: Rua Garcia D'Ávila
Ipanema's most fashionable street is closed down for What Poo-Poo is That?, the kids' version of Que Merda é Essa? The Carnival Sunday party is complete with a band playing children's hits and marchinhas. Families come together for the cross-generational, back-to-back Carnival.
- Noon - Que Merda é Essa?, Ipanema
Starting Point: Rua Garcia D’Ávila
Excuse my Portuguese. Que Merda é Essa? ("What S--- is That?") is as Ipanema as a Brazilian bikini. The irreverent group, still not too large, is one of the Sebastiana blocos, all good.
- 2 p.m. - Bloco Carnavalesco Acadêmicos do Vidigal, Leblon
Starting Point: Avenida Delfim Moreira
Founded as a samba school in 1976, at first the organization from the Vidigal favela/neighborhood paraded on the Sambodromo on Avenida Marquês de Sapucaí. In the mid-1980s, the fun shifted to Leblon, one of the beaches at the foot of the Vidigal Hill. Always playing superb samba (and this year, with a theme song celebrating the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and the Rio 2016 Olympics), the bloco will once again parade alongside beachfront Delfim Moreira from Praça Zózimo Barroso do Amaral to Jardim de Alah, on the border with Ipanema.
- 2 p.m. - Simpatia é Quase Amor, Ipanema
Starting Point:Rua Teixeira de Mello
Enormous, yet peaceful and organized, Simpatia é Quase Amor is one of the best-loved in Rio. They also parade in pre-Carnival.
- 4 p.m. - Perereca do Grajaú, Grajaú
Starting Point: Praça Edmundo Rego
Rio's North Side, home to champion samba schools such as Unidos da Tijuca and Salgueiro, also has great family-friendly street Carnival such as this bloco parading from one of the area's many squares.
- 2 p.m. - Fanfarani, Botafogo
Where: Praça Praça Chaim Weizmann
One of the newest blocos in Rio, Fanfarani was formed by residents of Rua Farani and doesn't parade. Their street party (watch a video) is perfect for the tourist who wants to take part in a neighborhood event with a less-than-gargantuan crowd.
- 3 p.m. - Banda da Bolívar, Copacabana
Starting Point: Rua Bolívar
A great Copacabana bloco, and the good thing is that it goes out every single day in Carnival, always at 6 p.m. See a 360-degree photo of Banda da Bolívar on Ayrton 360.
- 9 p.m. - Cacique de Ramos, Centro
Starting Point: Av. Rio Branco
All hail the fiery, the fabulous Ramos Chief, closing Carnival Sunday with a bang. Indigenous-themed costumes are the ones to wear, but not mandatory. The bloco will also parade on Carnival Monday and Fat Tuesday.