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What To Do In Rio In December

What to Do in Rio During December

December 1, 2014

Lagoa Christmas Tree 2014, Rio de Janeiro
Four transitions of the Christmas Tree on the Lagoa © Rio Times Online

See the floating Christmas Tree

Every year, a tree is set afloat on the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoa (lagoon) with a spectacular display of lights following a different theme. This year’s theme is Um Natal de Luz (A Christmas Light), which can be seen as the lights cycle through four distinct transitions.

In true Rio style, the tree is all about grandeur. The entire tree structure weighs the same as two Boeing 787 Dreamliners – approximately 542 tons. (The star topping alone weighs 2.5 tons!) The Lagoa tree is a must-see if you are in Rio before January 6th, the last day the tree makes its slow journey around the lagoon.

Porcão, Rio de Janeiro
Bacalhau (L) and rabanaba (R) © Flickr and Revista de Historia

Try a Portuguese-style Christmas dinner

While turkey or chicken is commonly served, the star protein of the meal is bacalhau, salted cod fish. For dessert, fans of french toast will want to try a slice of rabanaba: bread dipped in an egg mixture, fried, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

Porcão, a chain of churrascarias (Brazilian steakhouses), is a popular option for dining out. Porcão is known for its meat cuts and special holiday dishes.

Copacabana fireworks on New Years Eve, Rio de Janeiro
Copacabana fireworks © Condé Nast Traveler

Celebrate Réveillon at Copacabana beach

Ano Novo (New Years), also called Réveillon, is one of the most anticipated celebrations in Rio. Crowds gather at Copacabana beach for the famous midnight fireworks display. Traditionally, partygoers are decked in head-to-toe white. Read more in our Guide to Ringing in the New Year in Rio.

Centro Cultura Banco do Brasil © Tripomatic

Investigate the long-awaited CCBB decorations

In the center of Rio stands the Centro Cultura Banco do Brasil (Bank of Brazil Cultural Center), a cultural organization run by the Bank of Brazil. This art-deco building hosts some of Brazil’s best exhibitions, theater and classical music performances, along with a permanent display of the evolution of Brazilian currency.

The ornate building is worth a visit any day, but especially during December when the building is draped with an impressive display of holiday decorations.

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