Wheelchair Accessible Carnival in Rio

Probably Rio de Janeiro’s most important holiday! The date varies, but always falls between the beginning of February and the beginning of March. There are four uninterrupted days of party day and night that begin on Saturday and go on until Tuesday. On Wednesday,  it’s holiday until midday – needed to recover the energies from all the party from the previous days 🙂

In Rio we have both street carnival (the “blocos“, for free) and the samba schools parade. There are also events in show houses, but I recommend only those in Lapa. Here are some tips for those who, like me, would like to enjoy Carnival on a wheelchair:

Street carnival, the Blocos:

  • “Senta que eu te empurro”: this bloco’s name means “sit down, that I’ll push you”, and it has a great number of disabled people, but is open to all! The structure and comfort are better than in other blocos. They have a Facebook fan page with more information.
  • Look for block schedules on the Internet and plan yourself. There are some mobile apps (Android and iPhone) that will help you with updated info on where and when the blocos will start.
  • Musicians zone: some blocos have a special private zone for the musicians, so they can play without interference from the huge crowd. Wheelchairs are usually welcome inside these zones. Just ask them to go inside!
  • Costumes: altough not mandatory, it’s highly recommended to wear a costume! Just remember that it’s summer and the weather will be EXTREMELY HOT!
  • Moving around: use the subway always as possible because many streets are closed and the traffic can get really jammed!
  • Toilets: There are very few accessible chemical toilets, and they are almost always dirty as hell. The best alternative is to look for an accessible restroom on a restaurant close by.
  • Some recommended blocos: Cordão do Boitatá, Sargento Pimenta (Sergeant Pepper) and Orquestra Voadora (Flying Orchestra).

Samba Schools Parade:

  • Embaixadores da Alegria (Happiness Ambassadors) samba school is formed by people with disabilities and parades on Friday (together with the schools of Group A) in the Sambódromo. If you want to parade, get in touch with them!
  • The parades are held in the Sambódromo (Sambadrome), also called Av. Marquês de Sapucaí. It was specially built for the Samba Parade and also holds several music events year round.
  • Praça Onze subway station is next to the Sambadrome and the best and safest way to get there.
  • Tickets for the samba parade are sold online. Try to buy them as soon as possible because they sell out really quickly.
  • The main samba schools parade on Sunday and Monday and the smaller schools parade on Friday and Saturday. Smaller schools parade isa are a good alternative if you can’t get tickets to the main parade or if you want to save some money, since the tickets are much cheaper.
  • Another alternative is to watch the Champion Schools Parade that runs on the Saturday following Carnival. It’s a parade with the best performing schools of Carnival. It’s not as as beautiful as the original parade, but still worth it!