Ah Rio De Janeiro. Those three words instantly bring up images of white beaches, tropical drinks and…Santa Claus?
Rio is a tropical getaway that makes the ideal escape from the cold weather. And even though there’s pretty much zero chance you’ll get a white Christmas when you visit, there are plenty of holiday activities to partake in. Here are a few that are recommended.
Rio De Janeiro is known for its luxury shops as well as small boutiques that are great for finding unique items. Lojas Americanas is the perfect place to find inexpensive Christmas decorations that you can use to infuse your hotel room with cheer during your stay. If you are looking to browse fashions and souvenirs, Saara market spans 11 blocks and has everything from clothing to accessories to home décor to cultural costumes. The Hippie Market in Ipanema is terrific for unique, handmade goods.
Visit the Feira Do Rio Antigo
While shopping, be sure to check out Feira Do Rio Antigo, a lively market that takes place every other Saturday and every Saturday during the weeks leading up to Christmas. It is located in the historic center of Lapa and it’s a great place to find homemade fashions and vintage items. Live samba music is often featured and the streets are lined with cafes that make ideal stops for refreshing food and beverages.
Eat a Traditional Brazilian Christmas Dinner
Traditional Brazilian Christmas foods include rice, salad, fruits and farofa, a corn flour mixture that’s popular in the region. You can buy ingredients and whip up a dinner in your hotel room kitchen or purchase items that can be enjoyed at a beach side picnic. If you’d rather skip the cooking, there are several restaurants that serve Christmas dinners like the Gringo Café that offers American food year-round.
Eat Christmas Desserts
While you are shopping for your Christmas meal, there are two traditional dessert items you should not be without, panettone and rabanadas. Panettone is a soft sweet bread that is baked with dried fruits. Some also have chocolate chips of dolce de liete inside. Rabanadas are similar to French toast with sugar and cinnamon.
Enjoy the Copacabana
It goes without saying that much of your time in Rio will be spent on the beach. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be ideal for getting some sun and fun as the beaches won’t be as crowded on these days. When it comes to Rio’s beaches, there are many to choose from, but the Copacabana is one that can’t be beat. The crescent shaped beach doubles as a vibrant community with scenic views, beachside cafes, a military museum and a mosaic tiled promenade.
Get Ready to Party on Christmas Eve
In Rio de Janeiro, Christmas officially kicks off with a Christmas dinner at 11 PM. Then some might go to midnight mass. Afterwards, the partying begins with drinks and dancing that goes well into the wee hours. Fireworks are often lit as part of the celebration.
Play Amigo Secreto
Amigo Secreto is Secret Santa Brazil style. Just like in America, the game requires everyone to put their names in a hat. Then each participant chooses a name and buys a gift for that person keeping their identity a secret. In Brazil, the game is played with a twist as each person describes the personality of the person they gave their gift to until someone guesses who they were a paired with. Amigo Secreto is very popular in Brazilian culture and is often played among family members as well as coworkers.
Check Out an Os Pastores
Os Pastores means The Shepherds and it is also the name of a popular play that is performed in Brazil or Mexico during the holiday season. It illustrates the story of Jesus and can even include a scene where a woman tries to steal the Baby Jesus.
Christ the Redeemer and Corcovado Mountain
Known as one of the seven wonders of the world, the ‘Christo Rendentor’ statue stands on top of Corcovado or hunchback mountain. It is the highest peak in the mountainous city and provides a terrific view of the landscape. To get there, you can take a minibus or a train ride. The train ride is a preferred method because it provides more access to scenery and often offers a live samba band to entertain the passengers.
New Years Eve at the Copacabana
If you are looking for a party on New Year’s Eve, the Copacabana beach is the place to find it. Every year, millions of people gather at the beach to enjoy the live entertainment and the fireworks display that goes off at midnight. According to tradition, it is best to wear white. We’re not sure how this tradition started but the all-white clad masses who come to the Copacabana on New Years Eve makes for a sight to behold.
If you enjoy Latin dances, the Sambadrome is the place to be. Designed by modernist architect Oscar Neimeyer, the stadium spans 700 meters and can accommodate 90,000 guests. Onlookers watch as samba school performers shake and shimmy along the runway. Fans can even hire a costumer and dance with the school of their choice. While this all comes at a price, prior to the event, plenty of schools gather in the building for rehearsals that are free and open to the public.
Arcos De Lapas
Arcos De Lapas are the huge white arches that are located in the city’s historic center. On Friday nights, residents have a street party under the arches where live music is played and there is plenty of dancing. Stalls set up to serve tasty food and exotic cocktails. Nearby clubs and bars open their doors making for party hopping fun.
Christmas in Rio promises plenty of fun and excitement. What kind of trouble will you be getting into when you visit?