The Rio Carnival Guide website details how this is done:
You can also participate and do not have to only watch the Rio Carnival Samba Parade. Get a 2008 Rio Carnival costume and have the experience of a life-time, parade yourself in the Sambodromo. This is the real thrill, an unparalleled experience - to parade in a beautiful costume, to the heartbreaking beats of samba, on the biggest "stage" in the world. People who "just" watch the parade say it is a definite must once in a lifetime. People who parade want to do it every year!
On top of a float - We can also organize you a place on a float, on one of those richly decorated cars with a few dancers in some special, most lavish costumes. In order to be considered for a place on a float you do not have to do anything just send us some recent photos preferably in bikinis or swimming trunks. Then we will discuss with one of the major Samba Schools whether they will give you a position. If they do, we will send you the invoice for your payment.
Costs of Parade Participation with costume
Ground wing: US$289.00
On top of a float: US$589.00 - for those who want to be the star in the limelight
Price includes everything: your parading, the organization (help with your preparations, the liaison with the school and the president of the particular wing in which you will be and all necessary instructions), your costume and delivery. No additional taxes, fees or charges.
You will not need to do anything else just go to the Parade with your costume as you will know everything what to do by then through our information materials sent to you.
You have to buy a separate ticket to watch the Parade.
It is a fascinating read about Rio Carnival which illustrates the differences between their Carnival and ours:
The Rio Carnival Parade is not a street carnival where people move chaotically about as they like but more of a highly orchestrated show of vast proportions. Every parader has a specific role and place according to his costume in a particular wing of a particular section of the samba school he is parading in support of.
Each year each school chooses a different theme for the Samba Parade. It can be celebrating a particular period or some famous figures of the Brazilian history, highlight a special event or talk about anything really what might move the spirit and imagination; like a special animal or one of the elements, like water or fire, etc. The school has to illustrate the chosen theme through all its work - the samba tunes, especially written for that year's theme, the richly decorated floats and the costumes of their 3,000 to 5,000 parading members designed by the school's Carnavalesco (carnival designer).
The parade of every school is highly organized and designed. They line up in a unique way to present their pageant. The schools are divided into a number of sections and each section has a number of wings of about 100 people wearing the same costume. Sometimes even 2 wings (ca 200 people) have the same costume design. You will find more info about the role and name of some special sections on the other side of this page.
In between the wings, there are huge floats. Most of them are pushed along by men from the community but some are motorized and have mechanical parts. The floats carry some special guests on top along with some young and beautiful samba dancers in very elaborate, feather-rich costumes.
For much more information on Rio Carnival please visit the website The Rio Carnival Guide where you can read up on costumes, tickets to the samaba parade as well as pursue photos of the Samba Schools Carnival presentations.