With the current cold spell which has swept over Europe, you may be thinking of fleeing to sunnier climes in search of some winter sun. What better place to escape to than the Rio de Janeiro carnival, which kicks off on 17th February till the 21st.
A long weekend of sun, sea, sand and samba; every year this celebration is held just before Lent, and attracts over 2 million people to the streets of Rio. While the official carnival only lasts for four days, the events and celebrations go on for up to two weeks.
Here are some practical tips for festival-goers:
Visas and Vaccinations
• If you’re travelling from the UK you don’t need a Visa to go to Brazil, but you do need a passport which is valid for 6 months. You may also be asked to show proof of a return ticket, or the funds to buy one.
• Tourists can stay in Brazil for up to 90 days; this can be extended by a further 90 days by applying to the Federal Police. There is no guarantee your application will be approved.
• If you’re travelling to Brazil with young children between the ages of three months and six years you will have to show proof of vaccination against Polio.
• You don’t need any vaccinations if you’re only travelling to Rio de Janeiro, however you may need a Yellow Fever vaccination if you plan to travel elsewhere in the country.
• Book your accommodation before you arrive. Prices are obviously higher during this peak time, so you don’t want to be left paying even more for last minute accommodation.
• Some hotels will have a minimum stay in place during carnival, usually 4-5 days, so if you want to stay for less than this, you’ll be charged for 4-5 days anyway.
• There are package holidays available which will include flights, accommodation and carnival tickets; before you book be sure your holiday is ABTA or ATOL protected.
• Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance which covers you for medical expenses, theft, and cancellation of your trip.
• Carnival is a pick-pocket’s dream, as the streets are crammed with fun-loving festival goers paying more attention to the samba than their surroundings. The usual safety rules apply; don’t carry large amounts of money around, keep all important documents locked in your hotel safe, and keep a photocopy of your passport with you.
• Keep an eye on your things; cameras or wallets left on a table make easy work for a thief.
• Some will use the party atmosphere and abundance of alcohol to cause trouble; everyone should stay alert, and women should be cautious about walking alone.
And finally, remember that Portuguese is spoken in Brazil; although you may get by with a little Spanish, the pronunciation is very different. Learn the basics before you leave and take a phrase book along for the flight.