Updated on March 2, 2014
Carnival Sunday in Rio de Janeiro is packed with free street parades, many of them in the most touristic areas. The afternoon and evening come with super attractions Simpatia and Cacique de Ramos, respectively
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.
10 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.
2 p.m. - 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.
4 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.
4 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. - 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.
6 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.
6 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.
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.