Carnival Volunteering at a Samba School in Brazil - Rio de Janeiro
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.
- Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
- Affordable fees from $545 for 2 weeks
- Includes accommodation, daily breakfast, orientation and 24/7 support
Use your creativity to help local schools prepare for the dance, music and parades of Carnival
Revel in Brazil’s vivid, flamboyant culture
Stay in a hostel in the pretty bayside area of Gloria, Rio de Janeiro
Who is this program suited to?
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 varies but can include:
- Helping create costumes
- Sewing, cutting and pasting
- Assisting with music and choreography
- Building and decorating floats
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.
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
- 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.
- Please note: Our volunteer placements in Brazil require all volunteers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to participate in the program.
Brazil photo gallery
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
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 - 2:00 PM||Volunteers join the placement staff and begin work. There is usually a morning tea break and lunch break.|
|2:00 - 5:00 PM||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 can be arranged 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 easily be arranged. 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, a US$300 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, brown bread, butter, jam, cheese, ham and porridge.
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.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|2 weeks||$545 Equivalent to $39/day|
|3 weeks||$695 Equivalent to $34/day|
|4 weeks||$845 Equivalent to $31/day|
|5 weeks||$995 Equivalent to $29/day|
|6 weeks||$1,145 Equivalent to $28/day|
|8 weeks||$1,445 Equivalent to $26/day|
|10 weeks||$1,745 Equivalent to $25/day|
|12 weeks||$2,045 Equivalent to $25/day|
|16 weeks||$2,645 Equivalent to $24/day|
|20 weeks||$3,245 Equivalent to $24/day|
|24 weeks||$3,845 Equivalent to $23/day|
- Daily breakfast
- 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
- Discounts on language lessons
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of $299 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, souvenirs, in-country trips or tours.
- Transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program.
- Portuguese lessons (optional).
- Spending money - Volunteers in Brazil generally find US$150 to be sufficient for weekly expenses.
Portugese 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
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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.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
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.