Carnaval is almost surpassed by Reveillon (New Years Eve) as Rio`s biggest party. All neighborhoods have their own firework show, but by far the grandest and most popular is in Copacabana. Each year about two million people gather on the beach to see the fireworks and the various concerts. All hotels have special parties costing one minimum monthly wage or more (R$300). Virtually all apartments with a beach view host a party. Reportedly some people just keep their apartment for this one night of the year. Cruiseships are anchored in the bay. Everybody wants to be in Copa on this night!
R?veillon is also an important event in the Candombl? calendar. Flowers are tossed into the sea to pay hommage to Iemanj?, the mother of the water. Many people are dressed in white hoping this will bring them peace, love and prosperity in the new year. Some are more interested in money (yellow), love (pink), passion (red) or tranquility (blue). And many just wear what they are always wearing.
For many of Rio?s poor R?veillon is an opportunity to make some money. Selling beer, softdrinks, water or anything that sprays like champagne. After everybody has gone they are looking for lost valuables on the beach.
Although there are shows of Brazilian top artists (Alcione, Bar?o Vermelho) everybody is waiting for midnight. This year the fireworks show was organized by an Argentinian company. After the first few minutes, there was so much smoke that much of the rest of the show was invisible. The company claims this was due to the lack of wind and high humidity. Authorities are not sure about this, and an official enquiry will be held. Some nationalistic Brazilians will believe the Argentinians did it on purpose. After the smoke had lifted there were more shows . On all three stages the night was closed with a show of one of the major Samba Schools. To show that there is no rivalry between Rio’s two major events.
To get 2 million people together in such a short period of time is a logistical nightmare. The return is even worse, because everybody wants to return after the fireworks. To manage this feat the whole neighborhood is closed for private cars after 18:00. The Subway sells special tickest for a specific time period, and actually gets sold out. Even so the roads are overcrowded with taxis and busses after midnight and progress is at walking pace.