Celebrating New Years Eve is different around the world, everyone has their own twist. In New York they watch the ball drop in Times Square. Back home in Ohio, we usually just celebrate it by watching the TV with family and friends. However, if you want to celebrate New Years eve in Rio de Janeiro there are a few key things you need to know.
- Where to Go: There is one place that is iconic to celebrating New Year’s eve in Rio de Janeiro and that is Copacabana beach. There are other celebrations around Rio as well but if you want to bring in the New Year like a Carioca then Copacabana is where it is at, and the Copacabana firework show is amazing.
- How to Get to The Beach: All traffic going into Copacabana is shut down. No cars or buses will bring you into the neighborhood because the tunnels are closed off. This means if you are staying in a different part of Rio you need to purchase your Metro (subway) tickets beforehand. There are no ticket sales on New Year’s Eve, so you must purchase them before. Also, each Metro card is only good for a designated hour in order to control the crowds. Typically the Metro closes around midnight but on New Year’s Eve it runs pretty much all night.
- When to Go: You want to get to the beach early if you can, this way you can find a spot on the beach to watch the fireworks. The closer it gets to midnight the more packed the beach becomes, this year there was an estimated 2.3 million people. Hotels and beach front restaurants sell tickets for their patio area but these can run from $R450 to $R1,200 per person. Some places however will only charge a small amount for women, like $R30 but guys expect to pay more.
- What to Wear: I’ve heard that you can wear green for wealth or blue for peace. However, my recommendation and the most common color is white, which is supposed to be for luck. It is the most common color you will see, just whatever you do don’t wear black.
- Food and Drinks: I saw tons of people bringing coolers, bottles of wine and champagne. This is something I wasn’t aware of, so we only had a beer in our pockets. If you are going to be hanging out at the beach I would recommend bringing your own beverages, it is cheaper and many people are doing it. If you are hungry, go down to one of the side streets to buy your food, perhaps a salgadinho or hot dog. Anything found right on the beach front will be much more expensive.
- Flowers and Boats: You will notice a lot of people with white flowers or little boats that they will send off into the ocean, this is for Lemanja, the goddess of the sea.
- Gifts and Candles: Along with the flowers and boats that go out into the ocean there will also be little sand alters with candles, champagne and gifts such as food or other items. These are also for Lemanja, so when tip toeing around all the people at the beach be sure to mind the little alters.
- Going into the Ocean: Many people go to the shore to not only toss their flowers but to get their feet wet and wash off to start the new year fresh and clean. Also, some have a tradition of jumping over three waves after midnight.
- Entertainment: There are a few stages set up along the coast of Copacabana with live music playing. You can hang out by the ocean or jam out to some Brazilian music.
- After Midnight: The beach is lined with both old and young couples, singles of all ages, teens, and families. However, after midnight there is a mass exodus back to the Metro where most of the families leave. Afterwards, there is a lot of drinking and partying. Bars stay open here along the beach however the atmosphere changes a bit. Therefore, consider how you want to celebrate after midnight. Most bars in neighborhoods like Botafogo or Flamengo are closed. However, I’m sure Leblon and Ipanema all stay open and cater to the coastal parties.
Have fun and if you are planning to celebrate New Years in Rio and have any questions or want to share your own experience be sure to leave a comment below.