On Tuesday, the Unidos de Vila Isabel school took this top honor at carnival with the theme “You semba there[…] I sambo here. The free song of Angola.”
The announcement came as the Carnival celebration ended on Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after attracting what Brazilian authorities believe is a record total of 2.2 million revelers. According to tourism officials, up to 850,000 foreign tourists had traveled to Rio de Janeiro to partake in the celebrations.
The traditional Carnival festivities are held across Latin America every year 46 days before Easter. Brazil’s celebrations are among the world’s most famous, but there are distinct celebrations for every city and country in the region. Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, Bola Preta, which officially dates back to 1918, is a five-day celebration and massive parade through the iconic sambodromo stadium. Every year, seven different samba schools parade and compete for the title of the Estandarte de Ouro for the city’s best samba school. This year the Unidos de Vila Isabel school took the prize. Once a religious holiday, Carnival has taken a different focus and is seen as a celebration that brings everybody together, from all districts and neighboring towns.
Beyond preparing for what was expected to be the largest Carnival ever, this year the government renovated the famous sambódromo to be able to host 75,000 spectators and to improve the visibility and sound quality. The total cost for this renovation was approximately $20 million and was one week prior to the start of celebrations.