Rio de Janeiro Carnival, Brazil - February 2007

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Rio Carnival & Gay Scene

You can fall in love with the city very easily, Rio is one of the best holiday destinations in the world if your after sexy boys, beautiful beaches, hot sunshine and fantastic parties. One of the best times of the year to visit is over the Shrove Tuesday weekend in February because it’s Carnival season. Rio’s spectacular Carnival is renowned for being the best in the world, thousands of colourful costumes and floats parade through the cities Sambradrome. The whole city shuts down for four days of wild parties and bustling beach life. The place to hang out is Ipanema Beach, by the road called “Farme de Amoedo”.

The carnival takes place over the Shrove Tuesday weekend, for 4 solid days. Massive carnival parades are held through a specially created avenue where spectators purchase seats to view. Another way to see it is to take part in it. All costumes are made by “Samba Schools” which compete against each other; each school has about one and a half hours to put on their show and involves hundreds of people dressing up in matching glittery costumes. As you can imagine the parade goes on late into the night. To be a part of it, you can buy your costume from one of the Samba Schools, which you then own. A friend of mine took part. He was told to act and look as Brazilian as possible, as well as mouthing the words “marshmallow marshmallow” so it looks as if you are singing along with the music. Smaller free parades and street festivals also take place in other suburbs of the city, such as the drag queen carnival, around the gay district where literally hordes of drag queens take over the streets.

The beaches during the day, particularly the gay beach in Ipanema (located at the end of a street called Farme de Amoedo), gets jammed packed, and stays that way for a long time after sunset. Sunset is a unique time of day; the atmosphere much more laid back and romantic. From Ipanema Beach the sun sets behind two mountain peaks called Dois Irmaos (The two brothers). As it sets, everyone on the beach claps and cheers. It’s a very special moment. Later on we head over to a café-bar called Bofetada on Farme de Amoedo for a drink and snack, it’s a popular place to hang out after the beach.

The other beach in Rio where local gay boys meet (but less popular than Ipanema), is on Copacabana Beach in front of the Copacabana Palace Hotel (the most expensive in Rio). You’ll also find Gay Kiosk Rainbow there, easily identified by the family-sized rainbow flag.

There are various gay bars dotted about the Ipanema and Copacabana area’s of Rio. Pick up one of the free gay map guides from any of the venues or log onto for location details. Unfortunately the gay nightclub scene is somewhat limited in Rio with Le Boy being the main club, located at 102 Raul Pompéia. It has a good layout with a sauna upstairs if you’re in a horny mood. Sexy gogo boys entertain the bar tops and either strippers, cabaret or drag entertainment on stage most evenings. Monthly circuit parties happen throughout the year, X-Demente parties are always a good bet. During the 4 days of the carnival there are spectacular circuit parties every night. See the local gay press and flyers on the beach for further details. This web site has all the parties listed, although it’s not translated to English . If your looking for a good nightlife in Brazil try the city of Sao Paulo which apparently has a much better thriving gay nightlife scene (after-all it’s the 4th largest city in the world) but is in-land so doesn’t have a beach. Sao Paulo is located South of Rio, less than an hour by airplane and about 6 hours by car.

Another good thing about Rio is that everything is very cheap. One of the things that stand out to me was the cost of taxi’s. You could have a good 10 minute ride for about 6 Reals (equivalent to about £1 or US$1.6) however, there are lots of people who take advantage of tourists that don’t know any better, so use a taxi with a meter or believe me you’ll be charged loads more. Hotels are the same, book up with a commercial travel agent and you’ll be put in an expensive hotel with not necessarily the same level of service or quality as the similar trident rated hotel in the UK or America. Beach fronted hotels are much more expensive, whereas a few blocks inland, you can pick up hotel rooms or flats at extremely cheap rates. 

Portuguese and the Brazilian language is the same thing, so if you can speak a little bit of Portuguese you’ll get by OK. A lot of Brazilians speak a little amount of English or Spanish, and of course hand and body language is universally understood. However I would have found it very difficult to get by if it wasn’t for my Brazilian friend translating things for me. Not many things are translated into English making the party flyers, newspapers/press, restaurant menus and other info sources difficult to understand for English only speaking people. 

Rio de Janeiro which translates to “January River” is called this because the area was discovered on January (Janeiro) 1st, 1502 by Portuguese navigators who mistook the entrance of Guanabara Bay for the mouth of a river (Rio).

If you’ve never been to Rio and want a good hotel central, I’d recommend the Ipanema Plaza its located right next to the gay beach and has a sauna & swimming pool on the roof, with spectacular views of Rio. It’s not a gay hotel, but because of its location, has a lot of gay guests, particularly over the busy New Year and Carnival periods.

Recommended Gay Rio de Janeiro, Brazil web sites:


Cine Ideal


Rio Apartment Rentals