Two million revelers are expected to make this the biggest-ever New Year’s Eve at Copacabana Beach, where 200 tons of fireworks will help celebrants start the year off with a bang and a bossa nova.
The predominantly Roman Catholic population annually pays homage to Brazil’s African heritage on the last day of the year, when white-clad beachgoers wade into the ocean to offer white roses, food and wine to Yemanja, the Yoruba mermaid goddess.
Families light candles on the sand to ask for health and prosperity for the coming year.
This year, musicians Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil and others deliver a two-hour bossa nova lineup backed up by a 40-plus-member symphony orchestra. Fireworks will light up the coast for the first 20 minutes of 1996.
When the skies dim from the display, 300 samba musicians will drum Rio into the first sunrise of the year.