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How to spend New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro - one of the best!

New Year's Eve in Rio de Janeiro is one of the best parties in the world. And the best place to go to is, of course, the famous beach of Copacabana. There will be tons of other parties; especially cool if you can go with a local, but you have to spend the last minutes of this year and the first of the New Year at the famous beach of Copacabana. It is probably the best fireworks show -a whole 16 minutes!-  you will see in your life; so don’t miss out on the opportunity! Here at Rio by Bike we give you 5 tips for how to be prepared for this night so you will be able to enjoy it in the best way possible!

1. Come early

One of the best things to do is to arrive early at the beach. The program for the two stages at the beach starts at 6 pm. Make sure you are well prepared, take some small chairs or a so called canga to sit on. You can pick the best spots when you are early and make sure you really can enjoy and experience all the excitement of this evening. Even if you don't go to the beach directly, it is smart to arrive early in Copacabana because from 6 pm the neighborhood will be closed for traffic (though taxis and busses will be allowed until 10 pm). Eat something in one of the many restaurants in Copacabana to make sure you will survive the night, and then make your way to the beach to not miss one minute of this special evening. 

(the coloured areas in the middle of the beach and on the left and right sides are the best places to enjoy your evening and to watch the fireworks.)

2. Wear white… and old

Almost every Brazilian will celebrate the changing of the year wearing white. It is considered to bring good luck for the new year ahead. Do not wear black or you will be doomed throughout the coming year. Dress tip: wear clothes that are not new. Though Brazilians believe that clothes that are worn for the first time on New Year’s Eve bring more luck in the year to come, it probably is best to get some old, or at least cheap, outfit. In all the chaos of champagne, beach sand and seawater the probability you can wear them again is small anyway. It’s better to wear closed shoes instead of flip-flops, because of all the dirt and broken glass on the streets.

3. Buy flowers

Many cariocas -nickname for people that are born and living in Rio- and other Brazilians will bring flowers to the seashore and toss them into the sea, especially after midnight. This is a tribute to Yemanja, the goddess of the seas. Some locals go so far as to include beauty sets. These kits include soap, lipstick and powder.  You can buy flowers on every corner of the street during the day. Red is for romance, yellow for success, white is for peace, purple for inspiration and green for health. Buy seven of them (the number seven is the symbol for lots of things, but mostly indicates a change after an accomplished cycle and of a positive renewal) and, another nice tradition; jump the waves that arrive at the shore seven times. With every jumped wave throw one flower in the ocean and make a wish related to the theme of the colour of the flower. What also helps for a good financial year is to eat seven raisins or grapes. Don’t swallow the seeds but keep them in your wallet. 

4. Bring drinks… and nothing else!

It’s good to be prepared for a long night! So bring at least one bottle of champagne and plastic glasses, this gives you the possibility to enjoy the fireworks with sparkles in your hand. If you want to go on the cheap bring a small box filled with ice and beer, so you will save yourself some money buying beer from street vendors. The street vendors will be around for a while, but the majority of the people will leave before 2 am. Less people means fewer vendors. Near the main stage, located in front of the famous Copacabana Palace hotel, you should be able to find drinks until early in the morning. Don’t buy pre-made mix drinks. You never know what you are going to get. Caipirinhas that are made before your eyes, of course, are a must. Going to a club or bar helps as well to get drinks, but most of them have private parties that sell out fast and therefore are difficult to enter. Best is to bring as less as possible to the beach. With so many people -especially lots of tourists- in one place, there will be pickpockets around. Bring some cash to come home, buy drinks (again, better bring your own) and food (better eat a lot before you come to the beach and bring some snacks for your first hunger). Don’t bring your passport, only a photocopy and leave all jewelry and expensive bags at the place where you stay. A plastic bag will do the job.

5. Transportation

Transportation is going to be a huge problem. So it is necessary to think about this in advance. Copacabana will be full of people, around 3 million, so until the early morning it will be extremely difficult to get out of the neighborhood. City buses are packed and it will take some waiting to get a metro (you will have to buy tickets in advance to get out of Copacabana), with long lines. The normal way would be to get one of the many taxis, but you can imagine that will be difficult as well; also because fewer taxis are working during this night. Alternatives are: 1) make sure you arrange a taxi in advance, with help of connections from your hotel, hostel or B&B host, 2) stay in Copacabana or Ipanema so you can walk home (make sure you plan the route in advance, so when you are drunk of happiness and champagne you will still be able to find your way back!) or 3) hang around until the very early morning, 6/7 am, and you will be able to get a taxi or other transportation back easily.

And if you are around Copacabana in the days leading up to New Year's Eve and see some nice beige Dutch looking bikes, that’s us! Just give a shout and say hi.

Happy early New Year!!!

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