What are the Rio Carnival Balls?
One of the main features of Rio Carnival that makes it so enchanting are the Rio Carnival Balls. The Rio Carnival Balls are deeply rooted in the tradition and history of carnival in Brazil. The carnival balls add an air of exclusivity to Rio Carnival. There are many balls in Rio that are held during carnival.
The Rio balls can be described as glitzy, entertaining and over the top affairs. The balls always have a chosen theme and a fancy-dress requirement. Some of the Rio carnival balls are such glamourous affairs, attended by the rich and famous that they are even broadcast to a worldwide television audience.
Rio Carnival Balls continue to grow in popularity and every year and are becoming more frequented and accessible for all economic classes. However, the cheaper carnival balls are generally a little less classy, and a lot wilder.
Rio Carnival Ball History
The first Rio Carnival Masquerade Ball took place in 1849 and cost around two thousand reis to enter. As the year’s went on the popularity of the balls grew and they eventually became a common part of the celebrations. Major establishments and hotels would hold grand events like the Magic Ball at Copacabana Palace, which is one of the remaining balls still being held to this day.
The Best Rio Carnival Balls
If partying on the streets isn’t your thing, or you want to experience a different side to carnival in Rio, you must attend a carnival ball. There are hundreds of Balls held during Rio Carnival, but only a few are for the tourists. Most Rio Carnival Balls don’t begin until midnight so make sure you have plenty of stamina.
You can’t go wrong with picking one of the more popular Rio Carnival Balls. Here are our suggestions for the best Rio Carnival balls to attend.
Magic Ball – The Copacabana Palace Hotel
The Copacabana Palace Hotel is the undisputed King of the Rio’s Carnival Balls. It holds the annual Magic Ball or Baile do Copa as the locals call it. The Magic Ball is the most glamorous, luxurious, exclusive and expensive carnival ball in Rio.
Entry to the Rio Magic Ball is the most sought after in town and sells out months in advance. Only the rich, famous and who’s who of Rio attend this carnival ball. The guest list generally consists of politicians, actors, musicians, Brazilian socialites and even the occasional international star makes an appearance.
The Magic Ball has a black-tie dress code. So that means ball gowns for women and tuxedos for men. Many guests attend wearing elegant designer costumes and the costumes at the Magic Ball are stunning. Most the guest will make the effort to wear an extravagant costume.
Tickets to the Magic Ball sell out fast, understandably being the most sought-after event at Rio Carnival. Standing tickets that don’t include a table reservation cost around $1300US. While the Golden Room can cost around $2500US.
If you are looking to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, then the Rio Carnival Magic Ball is the event you want to attend.
The Scala Balls – Scala Nightclub
The Scala is one of the liveliest nightclubs in downtown Rio. The Scala host six balls during Rio Carnival, which are an iconic part of Rio Carnival and attract many local celebrities. The Scala hosts the Red and Black Ball, Scala Gala, The Gay Costume Ball, The City Ball and The Ball of the ‘Beer’.
The Mangueira Carnival Ball has a performance by one of the most popular samba schools in Rio. The City Ball is dedicated to the city of Rio, attracting mainly Rio locals. The Ball of Beer is a carnival ball that is all about drinking free beer.
Red and Black Ball – Scala Nightclub
The Black and Red Ball (Baile do Vermelho e Preto) is a tribute to Rio’s beloved professional football team Flamengo. Attendees wear red and black which must be adhered to if you want entry into the ball.
The Black and Red Ball is held on Carnival Friday. It is one of the most popular balls at the Scala Club attracting famous local celebrities. It is one of the crazier balls, that features lots of professional samba dancers on the dancefloor, adding to the atmosphere. The Black and Red Ball goes until 6 am in true Rio Carnival style.
The Gala Gay ball
Rio de Janeiro is considered one of the friendlier destinations around the world for those in the gay community. There are plenty of gay events during Rio Carnival. The most famous is the Gay Gala at the Scala held on Shrove Tuesday. The Gay community comes from all around the world to attend this celebration, which is known as one of the wildest and most extravagant balls at Rio Carnival.
You don’t have to be gay to join in the celebrations. Everyone is welcome because its all about having fun. The Gay Gala sees some of the wildest and wackiest costumes. There are plenty of amazing drag queens attending in gorgeous outfits.
There are lots Single Balls on during Rio Carnival, one everyday of the week that gives singles a chance to meet up with some Rio locals. Copacabana beach hosts several of these single balls. Rio is famous for its attractive locals who are flirtatious by nature. So, attending a Rio Singles Ball is a great way to meet new people and even meet new friends.
Tickets to the Rio Carnival Single Balls usually sell for around $20US. This is cheap in comparison to the amount of entertainment and excitement that these Single Balls have.
Cinelandia Street Ball
- When: Every night Carnival Friday – Shrove Tuesday
- Where: Cinelandia square
- Time: 11:00pm – 5:00am
Cinelandia Street Ball has been a local favourite for the past two decades. It is located in Cinelandia Square in downtown Rio. This Ball attracts mainly an older crowd and the working class of Rio. It is a free event that is held most days at carnival.
Rio Carnival Ball Costumes
If you’re wondering what costume to wear to the Rio Carnival Balls most have a fancy-dress requirement. While costumes are not mandatory its worth dressing up because most people do. Plus, there are not many times in life you have the chance to dress up so let your imagination go wild.
Balls with a black-tie requirement will require men to wear tuxedos and women to wear gowns or another form of elegant costumes.
Tickets for the Rio Carnival Balls
Tickets to the Rio Carnival Balls are selling out fast so it is wise to book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. This is especially true if you plan to attend the more popular carnival balls in Rio like the Magic Ball or Scala Rio Balls.
Your Rio Carnival experience won’t be complete without attending a carnival ball!
Where to stay for Rio Carnival?
If you’re wondering where to sleep during carnival in Rio, you have plenty of options. There are hotels, hostels, or apartments to rent for all budgets. The best place to stay is close to the blocos. There is no point staying around the Sambadrome because it’s not a great neighbourhood for tourists.
The best place to stay in Rio during carnival is in Rio’s Zona Sul which includes the suburbs of Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon & the Centro, the most popular events happen in this vicinity. Staying here means your close to the action and close to Rio’s best beaches and shopping. Santa Teresa is also a good option it’s a bohemian neighbourhood that hosts some of the best blocos.
Check out some accomodation deals here.
Take a tour for Rio Carnival!
Leave the guidebook at home and experience carnival under safe and knowledgeable guidance. There are loads of Rio Carnival Tour itineraries you can check out on Tour Radar. Whether you want to samba in the parade, join a conga line with locals, or witness the parades, there is something for everyone.
Carnival in Rio is a crazy, hectic and chaotic experience, which is all part of the fun but if you want to have a hassle-free vacation then why not join a tour! Also carnival is better to experience with people so check out some awesome Rio Carnival Tours here. Or even check out Viator which has hundreds of carnival tours and activities!