The centerpiece of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the schedule of Sambadrome Parades put on by Rio's 12 most elite samba schools. The biggest parades occur on Sunday and Monday with more parades on Friday and Saturday.
The Sambodrome is the stadium specifically built for Carnival and its parades. The samba schools spend weeks preparing for the big events through technical rehearsals held at the Sambadrome. Elsewhere in the city, all other daily functions are altered to fit around a schedule of all-night partying following the Sambadrome parades. Foreigners are welcome to join in the fun by purchasing the costume of a samba school.
Rio Carnival begins with the opening ceremony on Friday, as Rio's mayor crowns King Momo. In addition to the main parade, a huge children's parade is held that night. Saturday features parades from the Access Group, aspiring samba groups who hope to perform in the next year's Carnival. Sunday and Monday are the main event parades, as six of the samba schools march on each day.
The samba schools are renowned for inserting boundless creativity into their performances. Samba schools compete to feature things that spectators have never seen before, such as levitation and flying astronauts.