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Carnival Volunteering at a Samba School in Brazil - Rio de Janeiro

Carnival Volunteering at a Samba School in Brazil - Rio de Janeiro

Bring communities together through creative arts
Start dates
Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
Choose from 2-24 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 5 hours a day
Volunteers aged 18+
Dormitory-style hostel
Program fees
From $570 for 2 weeks
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Creative volunteers with a flair for decoration and craft, as you will be helping some of the leading Samba schools in the creation of costumes.

Project details

Ready to kick up your heels and be a Carnival volunteer in Brazil - Rio de Janeiro? International Volunteer HQ’s Carnival project enables volunteers to get behind the scenes of organize one of the world’s biggest parties. Carnival (known in Brazil as Carnaval) takes place on the streets of Rio once a year and Samba schools competing in it have a full year of intense work to prepare the many costumes, floats, music and dances for the celebration. Volunteers are invaluable in helping with their many hours of preparation.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Carnival is an event that breaks all economic and social boundaries. A love and passion for Samba makes everyone equal and draws millions of Brazilians and thousands of tourists to Rio de Janeiro every year. Samba schools come from low-income areas of Rio called favelas, and most of the schools are named after the community they represent. Each school unifies and proudly represents people from that community.

As a Carnival volunteer you’ll be assisting Samba schools with a range of preparations for the competitions, parades and celebrations. They start getting ready a full year before Carnival starts.

Carnival volunteer work may vary but is most likely to be cutting and pasting, helping to create costumes.

Please note that the dates for Carnival change every year - it is held 46 days before Easter. Participation in the actual parade is not included in the project, however volunteers may enjoy this opportunity at an additional cost by arranging this independently once they’re in the country. This project is available between October and February each year.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Good mental and physical health is key to sustainable development and building healthy and happy communities. Now more than ever, we must increase access to free healthcare and health education across the globe to achieve an acceptable standard of living and wellbeing for all.

Why do Carnival volunteering in Rio De Janeiro with IVHQ?

When you do Carnival volunteering in Rio de Janeiro you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Assisting with preparations for Carnival
  • Helping low-income communities participate in an important tradition
  • Practicing your Portuguese
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining experience in arts, crafts, music and dance
  • Immersing yourself fully in the Brazilian culture
  • Getting involved in one of the world’s biggest parties

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.
  • All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Emily Widdows
04 Jul 2024

I gained a sense of purpose and responsibility. If someone was to join the program I would tell them to walk in with no expectations and an open mind to allow you to immerse yourself fully into it.

Noritaka Kobayakawa
14 Feb 2024

The Carnaval experience program is an exciting program allowing one to see what happens behind the scenes for the preparation for this major event. You also experience how celebratory this event is over many weeks before the parade. It is an amazing experience to see firsthand how the people of Rio de Janeiro celebrate the biggest celebration in the world.

Myah Ford
02 Feb 2024

I have gained a lot of confidence within myself, and a sense of accomplishment, it is an incredible experience to volunteer. My advice to anyone hesitant about joining this program, is to go for it! I had doubts at the start but when I got there, I had the time of my life, it’s tricky at first, but you will make so many friends and share so many story’s, it’s been an amazing experience, I would highly recommend to anyone.

Uche Ginigeme
25 Nov 2022

My favorite moment from the volunteer experience was getting to meet, hang out with, and learn from great people from all over the world. I was reminded of things I'm passionate about and give me the opportunity to embrace those things, while getting to learn and immerse myself in a beautiful culture. Embrace the opportunity, be open, give yourself the chance to grow & learn while being immersed in other cultures, and you'll definitely have a great experience.

Federica Vittoria Lucia
23 Nov 2022

Meeting people from all over the world and organizing new adventures with them; getting in touch with the workplace and culture of the country, and testing parts of my character and discovering that I can overcome my limitations was my favorite moments from the volunteer experience. I would say that I was hesitant and I was afraid of how I would get along in the accommodation, with the people and at work, but after having had this experience, everything passes and the only thing you are left with is the desire to have more experiences like this.

Anya King
05 May 2022

Rio is an amazing place to visit, and volunteering with children in the favelas is so rewarding. Every day you can see the impact of your help. And to make it better, the children are so grateful and respectful, they are always excited to see you and they are eager to learn - so embrace every moment of it! As someone who has travelled a lot, I can say with certainty that Rio is unlike any other place in the world! Rio is vibrant and so full of life, and this experience really opened my eyes and taught me a lot about myself.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with IVHQ


IVHQ’s volunteer projects are based in the glittering city of Rio de Janeiro. It’s the second largest city in Brazil and home to glorious beaches, breathtaking scenery and a huge selection of cultural activities including the world’s biggest street parade, Carnival.

The volunteer accommodation is based in Glória, a bayside neighborhood in central Rio which is close to Copacabana Beach and many restaurants, bars, art galleries, museums and tourist attractions.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month and volunteers need to arrive into Rio de Janeiro on the Sunday before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Galeão-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG) or Santos Dumont Airport (SDU) in Rio de Janeiro. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee. When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in Rio. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation. If you are traveling in Brazil prior to your volunteer program, you will need to arrange your own transport to the hostel accommodation.

Orientation is hosted by our Brazil team at their office in Rio de Janeiro. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Brazil - an introduction to Brazil, culture and customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Volunteer schedule example

First Day

On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local team member and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.


Work and hours at the placement are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at. A typical volunteer day is as follows:

7:30 AM Breakfast at the hostel.
8:00 AM Volunteeers travel to their placements.
8:30 - 2:00PM Volunteers join the placement staff and begin work. There is usually a morning tea break and lunch break.
2:00 - 5:00PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to their accommodation, go sightseeing, hit the beach, or do some shopping.


During the weekends, volunteers have free time to relax or take the opportunity to explore Rio de Janeiro and other areas of Brazil. Popular tourist activities include relaxing on the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, climbing Corcovado Mountain, visiting the statue of Christ the Redeemer, catching the cable car to get a 360-degree view of the city from Sugar Loaf Mountain, horse trekking and wildlife spotting in the Pantanal wetlands, exploring Iguazu Falls and trekking through the Amazon.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers stay in a hostel in the central Rio neighbourhood of Glória, which is a short walk from the metro station.

You can expect to share a bedroom with 5 to 8 other volunteers of both genders. Bedrooms have bunk beds with bedding and air conditioning provided. All rooms have a communal, co-ed bathroom equipped with western toilets and hot showers. You should bring your own towel or can rent one at the hostel for 5 BRL. Lockers are available but you’ll need your own padlock.

Accommodation upgrades to private or matrimonial rooms or homestays can be requested subject to availability at an additional cost after registering for the program. All upgrades must be arranged through the local team prior to your arrival. Additional accommodation before and after your program can also be arranged subject to availability. Please ask your IVHQ program manager for more details.

WiFi is available for volunteers to use at the hostel. You can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone to keep connected.

Due to the higher costs over busy Carnival week, an accommodation surcharge will apply to any volunteers on the program over the Carnival week period.


You’ll be provided with breakfast at the hostel, but will need to arrange your own lunch and dinner. Breakfast generally consists of coffee, tea, natural fruit juice, fruit, bread, butter, jam, cheese, ham and cake.

The hostel has cooking facilities to prepare meals and there are nearby shops to buy food. If you have any special dietary requirements for breakfast, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately $329) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks $570 Equivalent to $41/day
3 weeks $720 Equivalent to $34/day
4 weeks $870 Equivalent to $31/day
5 weeks $1,020 Equivalent to $29/day
6 weeks $1,170 Equivalent to $28/day
8 weeks $1,470 Equivalent to $26/day
10 weeks $1,770 Equivalent to $25/day
12 weeks $2,070 Equivalent to $25/day
16 weeks $2,670 Equivalent to $24/day
20 weeks $3,270 Equivalent to $23/day
24 weeks $3,870 Equivalent to $23/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately $329) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Brazil generally find US$250 to be sufficient for weekly expenses, including lunch, dinner and miscellaneous spending.
  • Breakfast
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Lunch and dinner
  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Portuguese language lessons

Portuguese language lessons are available to all volunteers regardless of their ability. IVHQ recommends these lessons for all volunteers in Brazil unless they are fluent in Portuguese. Volunteers with a basic level of Portuguese should strongly consider these lessons to allow them to work and communicate more effectively during their program. These language lessons can be organized upon arrival in Brazil, during the program orientation. These language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Portuguese and must be paid for in Brazil to our local program staff.

Check what's required to visit Brazil

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Brasilia
Population 198.7 million
Languages Portuguese
Currency Real (BRL)
Time zone UTC-03:00

Weather and climate

The climate of Brazil has a wide range of weather conditions across a large area and varied topography, but most of the country is tropical. The different climatic conditions produce environments ranging from equatorial rainforests in the north and semiarid deserts in the northeast, to temperate forests in the south and tropical savannas in central Brazil. Many regions have starkly different microclimates.

Apply to check if you're eligible!

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How to get started

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