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Something really impressive during the large carnival parades, beyond the colours, music and amazing floats is, without doubt, the meticulous organisation behind the whole Carnival in Rio.
Making the transition from the crowded street parades, with no organisation, but equally striking and acknowledged, to a more organised environment, was due to the growing popularity of samba worldwide. Composers, musicians and dancers organised clubs in which to unleash their creativity, hence resulting in the now famous Samba Schools.
Because Carnival for the Samba Schools is not tantamount to just one week a year. It is the body of work and effort of a group of people who spend the entire year preparing the huge allegoric floats and costumes, while following the rhythm of musical compositions created specifically for the celebration of Carnival, so that they gather sufficient strength and personality for the big 80-minute-long parade that takes place in the Sambadrome. A very serious competition, in which the schools struggle to get the coveted title of "Carnival Champion".
The parade in the Sambadrome is the event of the year for all Samba Schools of the Access Group or Golden Group and the Samba Schools of the Special Group. It is the platform of visibility to all corners of the world and the stage on which the allegorical show is judged by judges in ten different modalities, such as Samba do Enredo, performed by each school, not only by means of music, but also lyrics, drums, costumes, allegorical floats and different modalities that each school organisation has had to take care of for a whole year up to the tiniest detail.
While competing to crown the best samba school in Rio.
There are 12 Schools in the Special Group, the most important one, 6 of which parade on Sunday 6 and another 6 on Shrove Monday.
The Access Group schools have paraded the a few days before, which are those that aspire to join the Special Group.
The appointment of a Samba School as "Carnival Champion" is a matter of national pride and allows the Access Group School receiving it to participate in the Special Group the following year. On the other hand, the Samba School with the lowest score within the Special Group drops to the Access Group.
Once the contest has taken place, a last parade is performed, i.e. the Champions Parade, with the six schools that have scored highest in the competition.
If you want to feel and experience carnival like a true carioca, as well as parading through the Sambadrome during the Carnaval in Rio, most Samba Schools are delighted to welcome people into their ranks for the parade. You only need to contact the Samba School; they recommend you do so several weeks before the carnival parade, and the actual school will tell you when it is recommended to come to the city of Rio in order to participate in rehearsals. Remember that, to be able to participate in the parade, besides attending some of the rehearsals, you should buy the costume you saw during the parade. Being right in the middle of it and walking along the Sambadrome with the people from Rio is a truly amazing experience.
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