Carnival: Rio de Janeiro's Samba Schools

Explore images of São Paulo's samba schools, behind the scenes and performing at parades

Estácio de Sá (2016-02-07) by Ricardo BorgesFolha de S.Paulo


A view from the stands at the Professor Darcy Ribeiro Runway, also known as the Marquês de Sapucaí Sambadrome or simply the Rio de Janeiro Sambadrome. Located on Marquês de Sapucaí Avenue, it has hosted the Rio samba school parades since it opened in 1984.

Before the Sambadrome opened, the parades were held first in Onze Square and later along Presidente Vargas Avenue—both in downtown Rio—before moving to Marquês de Sapucaí Avenue.

Carnaval: escola de samba Portela (1968-02)Folha de S.Paulo


The parade by the Portela samba school, which came fourth at the 1968 carnival with its samba theme The Trunk of the Ipê Tree (O Tronco do Ipê). Portela is Rio's most successful school, having won 22 times.

Rainha de bateria Viviane Araújo (2014-03-03) by Eduardo AnizelliFolha de S.Paulo


Viviane Araújo, an actor and queen of the drums section for the Acadêmicos do Salgueiro samba school. The group finished runner up with its theme Gaia: Life in Our Hands (Gaia - A Vida em Nossas Mãos).

Integrantes da São Clemente (1987-03-04) by J. A. FonsecaFolha de S.Paulo


The São Clemente samba school, which opened the second and final night of parades with Captains of the Asphalt (Capitães do Asfalto), a theme that centered on social criticism of the country's neglect of poor children.

Carnaval: escola de samba 'Império Serrano' (2007-02-18) by Lalo de AlmeidaFolha de S.Paulo


A member of the Império Serrano samba school, the second group to parade on the first day of carnival. The school's theme dealt with diversity, and was called Being Different is Normal: The Serrano Empire Makes a Difference at Carnival (Ser Diferente é Normal: o Império Serrano Faz a Diferença no Carnaval).

Confecção de alegoria (1980-02-08) by Lewy MoraesFolha de S.Paulo


Women work at making transparent flowers for one of the allegorical floats for the Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel samba school.

Carro alegórico da escola da Portela (1987-03-03) by Aguinaldo RamosFolha de S.Paulo


The Portela samba school's allegorical float. With its theme Adelaide: The Dove of Peace (Adelaide, A Pomba da Paz)—a tribute to the poet Walmir Ayala—Portela finished joint third with Império Serrano.

Carnaval: integrantes da escola de samba Imperatriz Leopoldinense (1998-02) by Patrícia SantosFolha de S.Paulo


Members of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school, which finished third with the theme Almost the Year 2000 (Quase no Ano 2000)

União da Ilha (2016-02-07) by Eduardo AnizelliFolha de S.Paulo


Acrobats in wheelchairs during the parade by the União da Ilha do Governador samba school. This was the second group to take to the Professor Darcy Ribeiro Runway and its theme, Olympic by Nature: The Whole World Is in Rio! (Olímpico por Natureza. Todo Mundo se Encontra no Rio!), was about the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Escola de Samba Vila Isabel (1988-02) by Jorge AraújoFolha de S.Paulo


The parade by the Unidos de Vila Isabel samba school. The group was crowned carnival champion in a historic parade with its samba theme Kizomba: Festival of Race (Kizomba, Festa da Raça) about Black culture and the centenary of the abolition of slavery in Brazil.

Carnaval: integrantes da escola de samba 'Unidos do Viradouro' (2007-02-18) by Lalo de AlmeidaFolha de S.Paulo


The fourth school to parade on the first day of competition, Unidos do Viradouro came fifth with its theme Viradouro Turns the Game (A Viradouro Vira o Jogo).

Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel (1989-02) by L. C. DavidFolha de S.Paulo


Members of the Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel samba school. Its samba theme, Elis: A Train Called Emotion (Elis, Um Trem Chamado Emoção), was a tribute to the Brazilian popular music star Elis Regina, who died in 1982.

Rainha de bateria da Imperatriz Leopoldinense (2015-02-17) by Daniel MarencoFolha de S.Paulo


Actor and queen of the drums section, Cris Vianna, during a performance by the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school. The group finished sixth with the samba theme Axé-Nkenda: A Ritual of Freedom, And May the Voice of Freedom Always Be Our Voice (Axé-Nkenda - Um Ritual de Liberdade - E que a Voz da Liberdade Seja Sempre a Nossa Voz).

Carnaval: carro alegórico da escola de samba 'Unidos da Tijuca' (2004-02-23) by Tuca VieiraFolha de S.Paulo


The parade by the Samba Unidos da Tijuca samba school with the theme Dreaming Creation and Creating the Dream: The Art of Science in the Impossible Age (O Sonho da Criação e a Criação do Sonho: a Arte da Ciência no Tempo do Impossível). One of its allegorical floats featured painted dancers representing a DNA chain.

Mangueira (1972-02)Folha de S.Paulo


Members of the drumming section of the Estação Primeira de Mangueira samba school, which finished runner-up with its samba theme Carnival of Carnivals (Carnaval dos Carnavais).

Carnaval: integrante da escola de samba 'Acadêmicos do Salgueiro (2022-04-22) by Eduardo AnizelliFolha de S.Paulo


A member of the Acadêmicos do Salgueiro samba school in the first parade since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Rio carnival for two consecutive years. With the theme Resistance (Resistência), the group finished sixth in the competition.

Acadêmicos do Salgueiro (1996-02-16) by Ormuzd AlvesFolha de S.Paulo


The model Joyce poses on the allegorical float of the Acadêmicos do Salgueiro samba school. The group's 1996 theme was entitled Anarchists Yes, But Not All (Anarquistas Sim, Mas Nem Todos) and dealt with Italian immigration in Brazil.

Integrante da Império Serrano (2003-03-03) by Ana Carolina FernandesFolha de S.Paulo


A percussionist from the Império Serrano samba school shows off with tambourines during the group's parade. The group made its entrance with the theme And Where There Is Darkness Let There Be Light (E Onde Houver Trevas que Se Faça a Luz), and went on to finish 12th.

Beija-Flor de Nilópolis (2012-02-16) by Daniel MarencoFolha de S.Paulo


Three days before the 2012 carnival parades, a member of the Beija-Flor de Nilópolis samba school prepares the allegorical float. The group would finish fourth with the theme São Luís: The Enchanted Poem of Maranhão (São Luís: O Poema Encantado do Maranhão), a tribute to the 400-year history of São Luís, the capital of Maranhão State.

The school paid tribute to the carnival producer and visual artist Joãosinho Trinta, who had died the previous year. He was a member of the group's creative team for 17 years, winning 5 titles between 1976 and 1983.

Integrante da Imperatriz Leopoldinense (1997-02) by Jorge AraújoFolha de S.Paulo


A member of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school's opening group of performers, known as the comissão de frente. The school finished sixth with its theme I Am From the Lira, I can't Deny It (Eu Sou da Lira, Não Posso Negar), a tribute to the Brazilian conductor, composer, and instrumentalist Chiquinha Gonzaga.

Escola de samba Portela (2003-03-03) by Ana Carolina FernandesFolha de S.Paulo


An allegorical float belonging to the Portela samba school. Portela finished eighth with its theme Cinelândia Yesterday, Today, and Always: Samba Enters the Scene on Brazilian Broadway (Ontem, Hoje e Sempre Cinelândia - O Samba Entra em Cena na Broadway Brasileira), about the Cinelândia area in Rio de Janeiro's old town.

Carnaval 1989 (1989-02-07) by Luiz Carlos CaversanFolha de S.Paulo


In 1989, the Rio Sambadrome was the scene of one of the biggest controversies in Brazilian carnival history. With a replica of the Christ the Redeemer statue depicted as a beggar, the Beija-Flor de Nilópolis samba school was legally prevented from parading with its allegorical float.

Led at the time by the carnival producer Joãosinho Trinta, the samba school found a way around the ban by covering the statue with black plastic and attaching a banner that read: "Watch over us, even though we're banned!" The school finished runner-up, with the theme Rats and Vultures, Get Out of My Fantasy (Ratos e Urubus, Larguem Minha Fantasia).

São Clemente (2016-02-09) by Eduardo AnizelliFolha de S.Paulo


The Baianas section—made up of traditional Bahian dancers with their round dresses—from the São Clemente samba school. The group paraded with its theme More Than a Thousand Clowns in the Hall (Mais de Mil Palhaços no Salão).

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