Rio Carnival evolves into low-cost street party extravaganza

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Once a party of luxury and glamour, Brazil’s most famous Carnival is increasingly being dominated by thrifty tourists more interested in free street parties than the pricy samba school parades.

Cariocas, as Rio de Janeiro residents are known, and tourists used to spend a lot on Carnival parade tickets and costumes. But a grinding economic crisis in Latin America’s largest nation and the rise of “blocos,” as local street parties are known, are changing the nature of the big bash.

Rio’s tourism agency expects a quarter of all visitors to spend less than $100 a day, compared to 12 percent who did so last year.

Carnival historian Luiz Antonio Simas said that for tourists who want to save money, the block parties are “an obvious choice.”