Rio Carnival Costume: Everything You Need to Know for the Best Experience

The carnival in Rio de Janeiro is considered to be the biggest festival in the world right now. In this colorful fest, more than 2 million people are found on the streets of Rio each day, as long as the festival lasts. Today, we’ll talk about the . But before that, let’s talk a bit about the festival itself!

Rio Carnival: A Brief History


The Rio carnival dates back to the first quarter of the 18th century, and it grew more versatile with passing years. The origins of this fest are the feasts that were held by pagans, out of respect for their wine god Dionysus.

Entrudo, a Portuguese festival, is also accredited to be the inspiration for this carnival. An interesting thing to note here is that one of the most attractive events, the Samba dance, was introduced later in the first quarter of the 20th century by Africans.

In 1984, the Sambodromo, a great arena dedicated to displaying Samba dances, was constructed. This led to more tourists and, of course, more revenues with the introduction of tickets. With the extra security and comfort, people flood in every year to witness what’s known as “The Greatest Show on Earth.”


The chances are high that you’ve already had a glimpse of how colorful Rio carnival costumes are. They come in thousands of designs. You can dress like a savage animal, or a beautiful, radiant bird. Ground units are consisting of dancers and air units such as the floats.

The dancers are divided into schools. How the costume will be, the theme, and the quality of the costumes are determined by the schools. The price is determined by them as well. The prices of the costumes can vary from a thousand dollars to ten thousand dollars! The question is, do you need a costume that costs that much for a single event?

Should You Go for Cheap or Expensive Costumes?

A lot of people asked us this before, so we’ll cover this today. Most participants attend this festival for the sheer experience and fun of it. If that’s your mindset, you don’t need an expensive costume. Remember, there’s only a small chance that you’ll be using this costume ever again.

If you’re in it only for the experience, you can settle for the cheapest costume. However, if you want to stand out from the rest of the crowd, which is a pretty huge crowd, you should opt for expensive costumes.

How to Get a Rio Carnival Costume?

If you want to parade with a Samba school, you need to contact a local coordinator who’ll help you with this. These coordinators can help you choose a school and even your costume. Each school offers a different theme. According to your preferred design and color palette, you should select the school you want to parade with.

Nudity is forbidden, and you can’t get a costume that’ll be way too revealing. However, people use the loopholes and get creative by the intelligent placement of decorations and jewels. These dresses are handcrafted, and they usually come with a lot of colors, jewels, and feathers. The most dazzling item of the entire costume is the headdress usually.

Dedicate Enough Time for Preparation

When you’re given the costume, you won’t get it prepared and ready for the show hands-on. That is why you need to make sure that you have enough time dedicated for preparation. You’ll get most of the accessories and gears necessary for preparing your costume.

If you’re new to this, take help from a party member or your local coordinator. If you try to set this on your own, it’s not that you won’t be able to finish it. It’s just that you’ll end up killing more time than necessary, and the setting might not be perfect.

One thing that I’ve learned in my career is, you want the costume to fit you perfectly. If something happens during the show, you will feel miserable about it.

Here’s one thing that I need to break down to you. If you think that you’ll purchase the costume, give your measurement, and it’ll be wrapped in a beautiful package with your name on it, you’re wrong.

You see, each school has a limited budget and this budget isn’t especially for the costumes, but for the floats and other arrangements as well. Sure, you’re paying for your costume, you’re not getting it for free, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll always get things wrapped in silver and gold.

The Rio Carnival Costume Might Not be What You Expect

First off, it’s important to remember that the design of the clothes might be different than how you would expect it to be. The designs are usually drawn on pictures, and they’re more or less different than the original every time.

Even if you’re shown a prototype, there’s no telling whether the final product will be the same as that. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get a product that’s different. Remember that every school aims to provide the best to the dancers. I’m just saying that it might look different, and you should be ready for that.

Secondly, try not to order your clothes right before the carnival starts. The chances are high that you won’t find any costumes available two to three weeks prior to the festival. Even if you find one, there’s still a chance that it won’t be as good as the ones that people bought before you. But why?

Previously we’ve talked about the budget pool. As the day of the carnival approaches, the schools start spending more money on assets other than the costumes. If you purchase a costume at the end moment, it might be rushed, or they might even cut a corner there.

I know what you might be thinking here, it isn’t fair, and I totally agree with that. It definitely isn’t. However, all of the schools try to offer the participants an amazing time, and they have to invest in a lot of other items to do so. Even if they’re cutting a budget from your costume, you’ll still receive something that will make your experience better.

You Might Have Difficulty Acquiring the Costume

As I’ve said before, you might not see the costume wrapped in a package with your name written on it. If you see your Rio carnival costume wrapped and delivered to you in such a great way, that’s probably the gesture of your local coordinator. If you find your costume in such a way, cherish them.

The schools don’t hand the costumes like that. They make hundreds of each item, and they aren’t specified for anyone. They gather the items in a great heap, and people collect from them according to their sizes.

If you’re collecting your costume like this, make sure you double-check before taking. If these are too tight or too loose, you’ll have a hard time on the big day. If you find faults, there’s a great chance that you’ll be given the appropriate item for you.

However, there are instances where people fail to acquire a perfect costume. The bikini might turn out to be a bit lose, the crown, or whatever the headgear is, might be a bit too tight. And it’s not always possible for the schools to provide substitutes for these. So, you must be ready to face these instances.

Be Ready with Your Survival Kit

As we were saying, the costumes might come with a flaw or two, and the school might not be able to compensate for that. But, as you are there to have fun, do not let anything or anyone keep you from having that. Here are a few things you may consider carrying with you. These tools will help you fix your costumes easily.

Firstly, we’ll talk about the most widely used and effective tool, and it’s a simple sewing kit! You can find these everywhere, and they don’t cost much. The real challenge is learning how to use them. If you have at least one person in your group who can sew, you won’t even have to learn this. If not, you better learn how to use a sewing kit.

With this tool, you can tighten your clothing, attach a button or similar adornments if they fall, and you can even loosen the item to a certain degree. With the sewing kit, if you have a loose bra, you can sew the laces to adjust it.

Secondly, you should consider carrying some safety pins. Remember, carry pins of different sizes. You can carry small pins for tightening parts of your clothes and even attaching some smaller items to your accessories. Again, carry some large pins that are strong enough to penetrate thicker materials. With these, you can adjust your belt if they are missing the right hoops.

You might want to carry a glue gun with you. The Rio carnival costumes are made colorful by attaching a lot of decorations to them. As we’ve said earlier, these are often heaped, and some decorations might get loose and even fall.

If a specific thing is missing, it’s possible that you can get that from the schools. However, you still need to attach them to your dress. You can do so with a glue gun! If you’re participating with a group, it’s enough if there’s only one or two of these in your group. If there isn’t any, make sure to carry your own!

Another thing that can help you is an elastic band—seen the elastic bands that keep your stockings tight on your thighs? These are the ones you’re going to need. You’ll have no problem finding them in particular stores. With these, you can tighten a lot of gear where safety pins won’t be able to help you.

For example, if you have a loose headgear, that will become a burden for you and will keep you from enjoying your time at the carnival. With simple tools like these elastic bands, you can tighten them so that they hold their position and don’t fall off. You can use these to tighten other accessories of your costume as well!

Get a Local Coordinator with Good Reputation

In the carnival world, there are a lot of cases where people are scammed. There are cases where the participants are given cheaper costumes, or they aren’t given what was promised to them, and in the rarest instances, they aren’t given anything at all!

Although there aren’t many people who get scammed and the number scammers are reducing each day, you should still be extra careful to make sure that you can trust your local coordinator. Local coordinators will not only provide you costumes. If you want, you can acquire VIP guides that’ll get you straight to the Sambodromo. So, this is a crucial thing that you must keep in mind.

Another important fact here is, when you’re buying the costumes, you need to provide your body measurements after the purchase. Here, it’s recommended that you stay open to the coordinator when they ask you these. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with an ill-fitting costume.


Now that you have an idea of what kind of costume you need to choose and how you can prepare yourself to avoid any sort of problem, we have one last thing to talk about.

You must remember that you’re participating in the sheer experience and the entertainment the Rio carnival has to offer. So, don’t get carried away when you see minor flaws in your outfit. The schools always try to make sure that you get the best out of the carnival, and your costume isn’t the thing that matters the most.

Take the precautions we talked about, and make sure that the costume is perfect for you, and it won’t fall off when you’re dancing. With these, you’re good to go!

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