The soaring temperatures of Brazilian summertime might not seem very festive for those traveling from the northern hemisphere, but while dreams of a white Christmas might be smashed, spending Christmas in Rio doesn’t mean giving up on tradition all together. As the holiday season gets underway, Rio unveils its striking festive centerpiece – the Bradesco Seguros Christmas Tree, the world’s largest floating Christmas tree, which towers 85 meters over the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.
Decorated each year to a different theme, the iconic tree is unveiled on December 1st, as the city’s Christmas lights are turned on, and Rio celebrates the start of the festive season with a dramatic waterfront fireworks display and a series of music and theater performances held in Parque de Cantagalo (Cantagalo Park). With everything from shop fronts to palm trees dripping with fairy lights, the center of Rio de Janeiro makes an atmospheric backdrop for Christmas shopping in the run up to Christmas with many of the malls and shops extending their opening hours for the season.
For most Brazilians, Christmas is traditionally celebrated with a family supper on Christmas Eve, but there are plenty of ways for visitors to get in the Christmas spirit too. Check out the famous Christmas Crib Festival at Jardim de Alah; go ice skating at the Barra ice rink; marvel at the extravagant lights display at the historic Centro Cultura Banco do Brasil; or tuck into some sweet Panettone. Keep an eye on the waters too – surfers taking to the waves in Santa suits is a common sight.