|Sunday and Monday tickets. Tab at the bottom gets you in. Tab in the middle gets you into your Sector. The big badge you wear all night to get in and out of your sector.|
Every year Luiz and I sit alert at our phones (and computer) to blast into the mad rush phone feeding frenzy that is the sale of Carnaval tickets in Rio. The tickets are made available at 9:00 a.m. on a set date via a series of telephone numbers. Depending on which Sector you are seeking tickets for, you dial that number and hope to get patched through to the business-like computer voice prompter to buy tickets. This year we got lucky and have some extras. More about that at the bottom of the post.
Prior to the sale date we coordinate with our friends to see where everyone wishes to sit and we all gear up to buy as many tickets as we can in that Sector. If one of us does not get through the hope is that someone else will and we can then buy them from each other. Ultimately we are working as a group to ensure our group can all see at least one night of the Carnaval Parade.
The big parade/competition takes place over two days: Sunday and Monday of Carnaval weekend. The neighborhood Schools of Samba are randomly assigned to parade at a particular time on either day. Which night is the best night to go is often a topic of great debate. Everyone has their favorite School(s) so if favorites among friends are split between two nights we have a debate on our hands regarding which night we should be trying to get tickets for. Some years the choice is obvious and clear. Other years some folks will follow the group on one night, but then spend the extra bank to see their personal favorite School on the other night.
Which Sector to sit in is a discussion that has been settled for many years. Among our group of friends the decision is largely a financial one. Carnaval tickets are expensive, even when buying them directly from LIESA, the Central League of Independent Schools of Samba, the official ticket vendor. The so-called “best” Sectors are generally seen to be Sectors 6, 7, 8 and 9. They are good because they are located far enough back from the beginning of the parade route that you can get a visual overview of nearly the entire School. The numerous sections of the parading School tell a visual narrative that corresponds to the music. Seen all together you get the best impact. Prices in these Sectors are way too steep for our crowd, especially for just one night out.
Sectors 4, 5, 10, and 11 are also good choices, if you have the cash. While not the ideal locations they still provide that long(ish) view you are looking for.
Us regular folks who go almost every year (some of whom have gone dozens of times over the years) look for a good value combining price and location. Since this is neither the first nor the last time in the Sambadromo we know the drill and are quite happy with Sectors 2 or 3. They are near to the front so the energy of the School is very high and the precision of their choreography is still on point and not frayed with fatigue. Sectors 12 and 13 can offer cheaper seats, but the Schools at that point (the end of the route) are often disorganized and sometimes running frantically toward the finish line to stay within the rigid time frame allowed and not receive a penalty for going over.
The night of the event we arrive early and claim a large area for our group at the down-route side of the Sector. You quickly learn that you have to stake a big claim on space at the onset because slowly but surely that shrinks in the face of a growing crowd of spectators worming their way into fractions of space throughout the seating area. It is inevitable. But we have some practiced skills at maintaining our spot throughout the night.
It’s always a great night. As a group we bring with us plenty of food and drink to last the long 9 hours or so of the show. Everyone knows all the songs and have years of stories to correspond to every School. The friendly competition insisting which School has been best over the years, insider scandalous gossip regarding the current Carnavelescos (the creative director, like the futebol coach), and assertions of confidence as to who will surely be named Champion this year make the many hours pass quickly. And the show itself NEVER disappoints!
Sound good? Well, like I said. We have some extra tickets available for both Saturday and Sunday nights. Send me an email if you want more information.