In what will be disappointing news to many people, the world's largest carnival festival in Rio de Janeiro has been postponed due the COVID-19 pandemic. A cultural mainstay, the Carnaval do Rio de Janeiro is held every year in February before Lent and is a five-day event.

A samba school parading in Sambadromo, the carnival stadium in Rio de Janeiro
Samba schools parade in Sambadromo, the carnival stadium, before 90000 spectators © T photography/Shutterstock

However, Liesa, Rio's League of Samba Schools, has announced in a Portuguese-language statement on its website that the spread of COVID-19 has made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades this year, for the first time in over 100 years. The festival attracts two million people per day to parties on the streets of the Brazilian city, which are known as known as blocos. Rio's City Hall has yet to announce a decision about the street parties, although some have already been canceled.

Attracting 90,000 spectators, the Samba Parade is the carnival’s main event, and the most important time of year for the city's samba schools. They feature impressive floats and dazzing costumes and the top 12 samba schools from different communities in the city perform in the Sambódromo. The schools have an hour each to present their songs, dances, floats, costumes and themes for the judges, who then decide on the year’s winner.

crowd (view from above)
The festival is a celebration of color and dance ©John Foxx/Getty Images

It was inevitable that the parade would be canceled, as the samba schools were forced to halt preparations for the 2021 event due to the spread of the virus. The last time the word-famous festival was canceled was back in 1912, due to the death of the long-time foreign minister, Jose Maria da Silva Paranhos Jr.

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