Brazilian carnival costumes are truly an impressive sight when talking about Rio's carnival.
I can only think of Venice carnival costumes as rivals in terms of grandeur and impressiveness, even though on a different scale of magnitude for the whole event as well as visitors attendance.
Deeply rooted in Brazilian culture, carnival in Brazil attracts millions of people from all corners of the globe and certainly is the most anticipated festivity of the year, sometimes referred to as the "Greatest Show on Earth".
The largest carnival event in the country takes place in Rio, however, the State of Pernambuco - principally the cities of Olinda and Recife - gathers millions of people, particularly for the event called Galo da Madrugada and the "Noite dos Tambores Silenciosos" (The Night of the Silent Drums).
Last, but not least, carnival in Salvador is considered to be the largest street festival in the world. All parties are held in beaches and streets with a massive attendance, specially to the Blocos (street parades).
To make brazilian carnival costumes, including planning and samba rehearsals is a year-round event for each Escola do Samba (Samba school) before parading at the Sambódromo (Sambadrome) for the big night.
So rooted is the carnival celebration in the Brazilian culture that, to many locals, it may not be food at the table or a job for the whole year, buy they will make sure they save for their samba costume one more time.
Once the theme for their song and parade is chosen, the production units will start working with some costumes and floats. Main Samba schools in the Special Group share the production facilities at the same location, known as "Cidade do Samba" (Samba City).
Located near the port, Samba city is a huge "factory", kind of industrial center for Brazilian carnival costumes where each Samba school occupies one block of the facility, with roofs up to 12 meters high to accommodate and build huge carnival floats.
Samba city should be included when you're sightseeing Rio de Janeiro. Apart from the live shows they present to visitors on a daily basis (at: 10:00, 12:00 and 15:30) you'll learn about how samba schools prepare for their annual competition.
It's located at: Rua Rivadávia Correa 60, Gamboa, between the Morro do Pinto hill and Avenida Rodrigues Alves - Tel : 2213-2546 / 2213-2503.
Open from Tuesday to Saturday between 10am and 5pm, there is an admission fee of R$10,00 (around 4,00 U$S) per adult.
Samba schools were introduced in Rio in the early 1920s. It all started at the end of XIX century though, with some migrants coming from the state of Bahia - provably Brazil's most African-influenced state - bringing candomble and the early forms of samba with them.
Today, there are several top Samba schools such as: Beija-Flor, Grande Rio, Imperatriz Leopoldinense, Mangueira, Mocidade, Portela and Unidos da Tijuca, attracting hundreds of thousands of followers each of them.
You too could shake your butt off in the parade through the Sambadrome with any of the schools, only need to buy your own brazilian carnival costume - at a price of around U$S 500,00 to 800,00 - and be prepared to live and breathe samba for several days in a row.
You'll then be part of one of the most unique South America travel experiences of all and will be sharing the most impressive celebration of Brazilian culture ever imagined, such as carnival in Brazil.