Survival guide to New Year’s Eve in Copacabana

I’m sorry, world, but here in Rio we have two of the biggest shows on Earth: Carnival and Copacabana New Year’s Eve. Among cariocas, however, the New Year’s Eve is far from being an unanimity (Carnival too, but I should talk about this in other text!). Some people love, others say “I prefer to spend the countdown even sleeping” or “I want to travel so I don’t end up in Copacabana”

But on one thing we can all agree: see the festival of colors and shapes that takes over the Copacabana sky is a must-have experience for everyone, at least once in a lifetime. For those who are going to do this for the very first time, I’ve made this small practical guide of “survival”.

Transportation

Biggest drama of New Year in Copacabana is always the same: getting there and leaving. For those who are not lucky enough to be hosted in Copacabana, the best way is the subway. Copacabana has 4 stations, all in the orange line: Cardeal Arcoverde, Siqueira Campos, Cantagalo and General Osório (exit D – Sá Ferreira St.).

But the subway works on a special operation. You will need to buy a special ticket with pre-determined time, in a range like 8pm-9pm, 9pm-10pm… The price is the same (R$4,10 each way), it’s just a matter of control. Imagine if everyone decides to go at the same time!

These cards are being sold already at the stations Pavuna, Uruguai, Siqueira Campos (only until 24 Dec), Jardim Oceânico, Jardim de Alah (only until 24 Dec), Carioca (exit C), Glória (exit B) and Central (exit C). More info here.

One good tip is to go closer to the end of the time range. For example, arrive at the station 9:40pm if you bought the 9pm-10pm ticket, because most people will go right after 9pm. Just be careful to not get late, especially if you are in a big group!

Don’t even think of going by car. Trust me: it is not worthy. On 31 Dec, parking is only to those who live in Copacabana, many streets gets closed and everything is chaotic! Cabs and bus only get in there until 10pm. After that, they can drop you off at Lagoa. Ah, and cabs usually charge fixed and absurd prices, due to the big demand. Uber will probably be with a huge dynamic price as well.

Only thing you can count on in this day, specially to return, are your feets. Wear a comfortable pair of shoes and burn the calories of the holidays.

-> Suggestion: in Rua Siqueira Campos, there is an easy access to Botafogo, through Túnel Velho. Usually, this is not the most pleasant or safe path of the world, but at New Year’s Eve many many people do that, so its OK. In 15 minutes you are in Botafogo already, where its way less crowded and confusing in case you need to take another ride to more distant neighborhoods.

Attractions

Yep, the crisis hit the budget for New Years too. Fireworks will go from 16 to 12 minutes, but the level was maintained. Producers opted for reducing the time than the quality of the fireworks, what I think was a wise decision.

Regarding the shows, its going to be only one stage, in front of Copacabana Palace Hotel (Closest station: Cardeal Arcoverde), with the schedule as follows, starting from 6pm:

  • Alex Cohen
  • DJ MAM
  • Leo Jaime
  • O Grande Encontro – Elba Ramalho, Alceu Valença e Geraldo Azevedo
  • G.R.E.S. Unidos da Tijuca
  • G.R.E.S. Mangueira

Safety

Mostly, it’s a peaceful enviroment, with people wearing white, happy with their family and friends. But its still 2 millions of people. Well, that being said: robbery, with some kind of violence, are relatively rare in this day. But pickpocking is extremelly common, due to the gathering of people.

– Don’t bring valuable things. Don’t even think of wearing jewelry, expensive watches, Chanel purses, etc. And unless you are a photographer who does that for a living, leave your professional camera home.

– My basic kit: keys, ID, some money, debit card and cellphone.  Yes, nowadays is difficult to leave without cellphone, especially because you should be able to communicate. But if you have an old cellphone who can call and send SMS, leave your expensive one home. I’m sure other people from your group will take good cellphones and you can take pictures of this special moment in other cameras!

– Never, ever, ever, carry your things in your pocket, specially cellphones. If its the only way, carry it at the least in the front pocket and pay a lot of attention!

– With kids:  I’ve spent many New Year’s Eves in Copacabana when I was a kid, and I was terrified of getting lost! At the most crowded spots, if possible, put them around your neck. Agree a meeting point in case you get lost and put some identification on the kid (name and contact phone) is a good thing too. Talk to your kid that she should talk to Police officers in case she gets lost (they are all around in this day) is also very important.

Bathrooms

There are some chemical toilets, but they are never enough. So:

  • Go wait in line before you get too desperate to pee.
  • Bars and restaurants usually charge for bathroom use or only allow it to clients. What I do: I buy something that I would buy from sellers at the streets in these establishments and I use the bathroom!  Some give you a bad look because they are aware of my strategie, but I don’t care!
  • I don’t advise you to do it on the streets. There are many people around all the tie, and you risk getting a fine by officers (R$600,00).

Traditions

For those who believe: wear white to have peace in 2017, yellow to attract money, red passion/love, green is hope and the other I don’t know, hahaha. But most important thing is to go with comfortable clothes: remember that you will be walking a lot, that its going to be crowded and that its a beach. I usually use swim-wear, because I always get in to the sea. I avoid using long dresses/skirts because the bottom always gets dirty of sand, seawater and all kinds of things.

Many people take roses and other offers to Yemanjá, the sea orisha. Ah, and jump over 7 waves is also a classic! 🙂

No matter what you believe in, the important thing is to keep up the good vibes, enjoy this spectacle in peace and cheer for a better 2017!

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