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Rio Carnival Cancelled Resulting In The Loss Of 2 Million Tourists to Brazil

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Rio's Carnival in Brazil has been cancelled for the first time in more than 100 years which will result in the loss of 2 million tourists to Brazil.

Rio’s League of Samba Schools, LIESA, announced that the spread of COVID-19 has made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades which attract a total of 7 million people over the course of 5 days. 

Women participating in Samba Parade are dancing samba on top of lavishly decorated parade float. All participants are wearing elaborate costumes.
Women participating in Samba Parade are dancing samba on top of lavishly decorated parade float.

Rio’s authorities have yet to announce a decision about the carnival street parties that also take place across the city.

The tourism promotion agency said in a statement to the Associated Press on September 17th that without a COVID-19 vaccine, it was unknown when large public events would resume.

Rio Carnival Street Party Parade

The event was supposed to run from February 12th to February 17th , 2021 was expected to attract around seven million people including 5 million locals and 2 million tourists according to Statista.

Brazil’s first COVID-19 case was confirmed on February 26th which is one day after this year’s carnival ended.

As the number of infections grew, the samba schools that participate in the glitzy annual parade halted preparations for the 2021 event. 

rio carnival

Carnival is not only a big part of the country’s culture, it's also an important event for the Brazilian economy. Since 2016, the revenue brought in to the tourism and services sector each year has been around 1.5 billion U.S. dollars.

The events are estimates to create over 25,000 temporary jobs each year.

The last time Rio’s Carnival was suspended was 1912, following the death of the foreign relations minister. The mayor of Rio, at the time Brazil’s capital, postponed by two months all licenses for the popular dance associations’ Carnival parties, according to Luís Cláudio Villafañe, a diplomat and author of the book “The Day They Delayed Carnival.”

Samba School parade in Sambodromo, place

Brazil is the 3rd hardest hit country in the world by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 4.7 million cases have been confirmed resulting in over 141,000 deaths. 

Brazil recently reopened its borders for international flights on July 29th, 2020 after its tourism industry was decimated by the pandemic. 

rio carnival samba

Read More: 

Brazil Reopening For Tourism 

Brazil COVID-19 Entry Requirements

Countries Open For Tourism 

Countries Open For American Tourists

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Monday 28th of September 2020

Thanks for the replies. I was even thimking to visit an ecolodge near the Amazon and do day trips (river cruises would be too dangerous now). I will also spend time in Southern Argentina & Buenos Aires

Just a Guy

Monday 28th of September 2020

You can visit the beaches of the Northeast and the main touristic points of each capital, search for "Praia dos Carneiros", "Porto de Galinhas", "Fernando de Noronha", "Dunas de Genipabu" etc, there are many other options to fill the your justa


Monday 28th of September 2020

Most States here are cancelling Carnival and other events, but the access to beach, parks and touristic attractions in general are kept opened. There might be some changes on operation hours and certain limits to the amount of people in them. Sao Paulo and Rio are decreasing, for now, the number of deaths and new infections, but in inner States are still growing. I wish you a good trip and be welcome!


Sunday 27th of September 2020

As far as I understand, it is only the Rio carnival that is canceled. So I assume that this decision was taken on the local level. You need to check which Brazilian States respect people’s freedom and just visit those States.


Sunday 27th of September 2020

I have a dilemma. I planned to visist Brazil and Argentina for the first time in Feb. The trip is 3 weeks long and less than a third of normal flight. Too expensive to change the dates. I'm trying to figure how to spend 3 weeks down there without Carnival!!! My flight is to Sao Paulo. If I cancel I will bring paying over 700 another time to visit, not including 200+ flights to Argentina from Brazil or domestic flights in each country. So I prefer to still go but have ni clue how to fill my time. Brazil will be full of Carnival cancellation sadness, and also high risk for COVID though.... So I have to greatly reduce my time there. But I do not intend to spend weeks in Argentina either. 1 week for South + Buenos Aires felt adequate. PLEASE ADVISE how to fill 3 weeks safely! I get bored easily.


Monday 28th of September 2020

You can easily spend more than 1 week in the patagonia region of Argentina and Chile, which I highly recommend if you're into hiking. You can visit Perito Moreno glacier, the Fitz Roy hike is 8 hours back and forth, and you can also take a bus to puerto natales/ torres del paine in chile from el calafate. A trip to the Amazon would also be nice. The only problem is that the whole covid situation is still unpredictable, who knows if there'll be a surge by the time you get to Argentina.. they had one of the strictest border closures. hopefully you had purchased travel insurance for this trip.


Monday 28th of September 2020

São Paulo is one of the biggest cities in the world and you can find restaurants and bars open virtually 24h a day. It's also one hour away from many beaches. Just do some research and you'll be fine.