Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome (also known as Sambodromo or Passarela do Samba Darcy Ribeiro) was designed and built by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1984. Established to host the city’s enormous Carnival celebration every year, the stadium features a 2,300-foot (700-meter) runway and seats 90,000 spectators.
During Rio Carnival, Brazil's largest Carnival celebration, Samba schools parade through the center of the Sambadrome, with dancers performing their samba parade to impress the crowd with music, dancing, and floats. Seven teams compete each night in a concert that lasts more than 10 hours, and Carnival performance tickets are highly coveted. During the rest of the year, the Sambadrome hosts the occasional music concert. When not in use, the facility hosts Sambadrome tours that also visit a small museum (located on Rua Marques de Sapucai) that showcases its history and exhibits some costumes.
The Sambadrome is a must-see stop on comprehensive Rio de Janeiro tours. A stop at the stadium, along with entrance to the museum, is often combined with visits to other Rio landmarks, such as Copacabana Beach, the Christ the Redeemer statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the Rio Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botanico).
Things to Know Before You Go
The Sambadrome is accessible to the disabled and those in wheelchairs.
Age limits for children depend on the event taking place; kids under 5 are not allowed to attend Carnival.
The museum is the most interesting part of a visit during the offseason; visitors can also find a souvenir shop for some take-home goodies.
How to Get There
Taking the metro to the Praca Onze stop and then walking along Rue Julio do Carmo is the simplest way to reach the Sambadrome. Most Sambadrome tours provide round-trip transportation from downtown Rio de Janeiro.
When to Get There
Carnival is held every year in the middle of February—this is the best (and most popular) time to see the Sambadrome in action. Leading up to the actual parade days, the samba schools practice their routines during rehearsals that are free and open to the public.
Things to Know About Rio Carnival
Sambadrome Carnival ticket options range from air-conditioned boxes to concrete seating. Carnival events can last up to 12 hours, so attendees can bring a limited amount of food and drink, as well as photo and video devices. Walking freely through the stadium is permitted, although re-entry is not. With a huge police presence and private bodyguards celebrity visitors, Rio de Janeiro Carnival is reputed to be one of the safest events in South America.