Festas Juninas, June
Festival do Rio, November
Following the excitement of New Year's Eve, Rio starts the year in high gear, with steamy beach days, open-air concerts and the buzz of pre-Carnaval revelry.
Dia de São Sebastião
The patron saint of Rio is commemorated on January 20 with a procession that carries the image of São Sebastião from Igreja de São Sebastião dos Capuchinos (Rua Haddock Lobo 266) in Tijuca to the Catedral Metropolitana in Lapa.
High season is in full swing, with people-packed beaches, sold-out hotel rooms and the unbridled revelry of Carnaval. Periodic thunderstorms bring some relief from the sweltering humidity.
Brazil's biggest fest is celebrated with abandon in Rio, with hundreds of street parties, as well as costume balls and elaborate samba-fueled parades that attract revelers from all corners of the globe.
Rio Music Carnaval
Arriving in the midst of Carnaval, this big February fest (http://riomusiccarnival.com.br) features a stellar lineup of electronic-music gurus. Past guests at the five-night event have featured Diplo, Fatboy Slim and Bob Sinclair. Headliners appear in the Marina da Glória.
After Carnaval the visiting crowds disperse, though the weather stays hot and the tropical rain showers continue. Ongoing summer concerts and events make it a festive time to visit.
Dia da Fundação da Cidade
The city commemorates its 1565 founding with a March 1 Mass in the church of its patron saint, Igreja de São Sebastião dos Capuchinos (Rua Haddock Lobo 266, Tijuca). A procession, concerts, a children's parade and a massive birthday cake are part of the festivities.
Sexta-Feira da Paixão
In March or April (depending on when Easter falls), Good Friday is celebrated throughout the city. The most important ceremony re-enacts the Stations of the Cross under the Arcos da Lapa, with more than 100 actors.
Festival é Tudo Verdade
Latin America's most important documentary film festival (http://etudoverdade.com.br/br/home) takes place over 10 days in March or April; more than 100 films from Brazil and abroad are screened at theaters in Rio and São Paulo.
After the sweltering heat of summer, April remains warm but pleasant, with slightly cooler temperatures and fewer rainstorms. Following the festive January-to-March period, cariocas (Rio residents) return to work, and the kids are back in school.
Dia do Índio
April 19 pays homage to Brazil's indigenous cultures, with special events, including indigenous songs, dancing and art exhibitions. Locations vary, but the event has recently been held in Parque Lage.
Dia de São Jorge
On April 23 the city pays its respects to St George, an important figure in the Afro-Brazilian community. There's a Mass at Igreja de São Jorge (Rua da Alfândega 382, Centro), followed by a procession. Food vendors abound.
June brings milder weather, with temperatures in the low 20s (Celsius) and little rainfall. Although it's low season, there's much merriment in the air during the fun-loving Festas Juninas.
Rio das Ostras Jazz e Blues Festival
Located 170km east of Rio, en route to Búzios, pretty Rio das Ostras hosts one of Brazil's best jazz and blues fests (www.riodasostrasjazzeblues.com), with four days of concerts by international performers on outdoor stages.
Spanning the month of June, the feast days of various saints mark some of the most important folkloric festivals in Brazil. Celebrations are held in various public squares, with food stands, music, fireworks and bonfires. The big days are June 13, 24 and 29.
Set along the coast, with the ocean always at your side, this marathon course ranks among the world's loveliest. The event (www.maratonadorio.com.br) typically happens in June or July (but sometimes as early as late May), when the weather's mild. Also has 6km and 21km runs.
The cooler days of winter arrive, with little rainfall, clear blue skies and mild temperatures. There aren't many visitors in town, and accommodations prices are near their lowest.
Artists in Santa Teresa open their studios for a week in the winter during this lively annual festival. Expect music, a diverse crowd and inventive installations that make good use of the atmospheric bohemian 'hood.
Festa da São Pedro do Mar
The fishing fraternity pays homage to its patron saint in late June. A maritime procession of decorated boats leaves from the fishing community of Caju and sails to the statue of São Pedro in Urca.
Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty
This important literary festival (www.flip.org.br) brings authors from around the world to Paraty (located four hours west of Rio) for five days in July or August. Writers Jhumpa Lahiri, Colm Tóibín and Richard Flanagan have been among the featured guests in past years.
With continuing cool weather but sunny skies, it's an excellent time to take advantage of outdoor activities such as cycling, rock climbing, and hiking in the Tijuca forest.
Festa de NS da Glória do Outeiro
On August 15 the historic church overlooking Glória and the bay holds a procession, stages a concert and hosts colorful stalls. Festivities start in the morning and continue all day.
For several days in August, Rio hosts Brazil's biggest culinary event (www.riogastronomia.com.br). The focal point of all the action is out on Pier Mauá, with special tastings, workshops and cooking lessons, plus concerts.
Temperatures are rising, and although Carnaval is still months away, samba-school rehearsals begin, making for a great opportunity to get a taste of the excitement out of season.
Samba schools begin hosting open gatherings once a week (usually on Friday or Saturday nights). In spite of the name, these are less a dress rehearsal than an excuse to dance (to samba, of course) and to celebrate. All are welcome.
Mondial de la Biere
This four-day event draws brew-lovers from far and wide to an extravaganza of food and beer tasting currently held on Praça Mauá (www.mondialdelabiererio.com).
Dia de Independência do Brasil
Independence Day is celebrated on September 7 with a large military parade down Av Presidente Vargas in Centro. It starts at 8am at Igreja de Nossa Senhora de Candelária and goes down just past Praça XI.
Rock in Rio
One of the biggest rock festivals on earth has recently returned to Rio (after alternating between Lisbon and Madrid). Expect a stellar lineup of bands and huge, celebratory crowds. Scheduled to happen in Rio in 2019 and 2021; check out www.rockinrio.com.br.
October brings more beach days and a touch more daylight; Rio also pushes the clock ahead for one hour from mid-October (till mid-February). Comfortable temperatures make this an excellent time to be in the tropics.
Festa da Penha
Held on Sundays in October, this religious fest draws thousands of pilgrims who ascend the 365 steps to the dramatically set Basílica da Penha in the northern suburb of Penha. In the plaza below, food and drink stalls and live music create a festive environment.
Gay Pride Rio
Although not as large as São Paulo's massive parade, the Rio Gay Pride event (www.gaypridebrazil.org) gets bigger each year, with more than a million people turning out in recent years. It usually takes place in October or November.
Summer has nearly arrived and the city begins to gear up for the festive days and nights ahead, with a dance festival, a film fest and more activities on the city's sands.
Festival do Rio
Rio's international film festival (www.festivaldorio.com.br) is one of the biggest in Latin America. Some 400 films from more than 60 countries are shown at 30 theaters. Running over two weeks, it typically kicks off in November.
Festival Panorama de Dança
Spanning two weeks in November, the Festival Panorama (www.panoramafestival.com) showcases the work of dozens of contemporary dance groups from across the globe, bringing together a mix of experimental troupes as well as traditional performers.
While the northern hemisphere shivers, cariocas strip down to the bare essentials for hot days on the beach and steamy nights at samba parties around town.
Lighting of the Lagoa Christmas Tree
Throughout December the world's largest floating Christmas tree (85m) glows brightly on Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. To celebrate its lighting, the city throws a concert in Parque Brigadeiro Faria Lima on the west side of the lake, usually on the first Saturday in December.
Festa de Iemanjá
This December 31 Candomblé festival celebrates the feast day of Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea. Celebrants dress in white and place their petitions on small boats, sending them out to sea. If their petitions return, their prayers will not be answered.
Rio's biggest holiday after Carnaval takes place on Copacabana Beach, when some two million people pack the sands to welcome the New Year. Fireworks light up the sky as top bands perform on stages built on the sands.