The world most famous Carnival is creating an exploding vibe along Rio. With different gay club and street parties (Ipanema) and of course the world famous samba parades at the Sambadrome.
Sambadrome Samba Parades
Make sure you do not miss the big parade at the Sambadrome on Sunday or Monday night. It consists of 700 m stretch of the Marquês de Sapucaí street converted into a permanent parade ground with bleachers built on either side for spectators. Its capacity is 90.000.
The performance take many hours, from the evening till early in the next morning. It takes 80 minutes for s Samba school to cross the stadium, it's really spectacular. For tourists some hours is usually enough though.
Tickets can be very expensive, few hundred dollars each for good places. Around the stadium you can also buy buy much cheaper tickets at the streets around the stadium for the lower cost grand stands at the beginning or the end of the Sambadrome. This will save you hundreds of dollars. These tickets are in sections with only local people and have a bit more limited view on the samba schools parading by. Also keep in mind you have to be careful in Rio at all times.
Ipanema street carnival
The Banda Ipanema is the oldest street carnival in town. In carnival weekend, the parade goes by the gay beach on Saturday and Monday, and moves to the Rua Farme de Amoedo (in front of Bofetada) to end in a massive, hot and chaotic street party. This is very different from the highly coordinated Samba schools in the Sambadrome.
After the street carnival there is an unofficial street party. Make sure you watch your belongings in the busy crowd.
At night several big circuit gay parties are around several locations and in the big gay clubs.