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Carnaval in Style

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What the Superbowl is to the States, Carnaval is to Rio. The monumental Sambadrome, designed by Oscar Niemeyer in the sixties, hosts tens of thousands of revelers every February for the week's main event—an all-night dancing extravaganza. And millions more invade the streets and beaches. The way to do it in style is via a good fixer. The high-end firm Matueté (55-11/3071-4515) can reserve a private booth in the Sambadrome for upwards of $25,000. Or it can arrange a frisa (a roped-off seating area) along the parade route for $2,000. During the rest of the year, two of Rio's top samba schools—Salgueiro (55-21/2268-0548; salgueiro.com.br) and Mangueira (55-21/3872-6786; mangueira.com.br), both just 30 minutes by taxi from downtown—open their rehearsals to the public. And for a look at the creation of Carnaval floats and costumes, the Independent League of Samba Schools (55-21/2213-2546; liesa.com.br) gives private tours of Samba City, a collection of workshops dubbed the Factory of Dreams, near Rio's port.

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