Rio de Janeiro is about to host Madonna’s huge Copacabana beach concert, which will be her biggest concert ever

RIO DE JANEIRO — Madonna will perform a free concert on Copacabana Beach on Saturday evening, turning the vast sandy beach into a giant dance floor. It comes after Rio de Janeiro spent the last few days preparing for the Queen of Pop’s historic performance.

Rio City Hall has said that around 1.5 million spectators are expected, more than ten times more than Madonna’s record attendance of 130,000 at Paris’s Parc des Sceaux in 1987. Madonna’s official website lists the show as the biggest ever in its four seasons Decades-long career praised.

It will be the final show of the Celebration Tour, her first retrospective, which began in London in October.

The enthusiasm has been palpable in the last few days. Fans crowded outside the stately Copacabana Palace beachfront hotel where Madonna lives, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pop star. They danced in the sand during the sound check on the stage in front of their hotel.

“Since Madonna arrived here, I have come every day in this outfit to greet my idol, my diva, my pop queen,” said Rosemary de Oliveira Bohrer, 69, who wore a gold cone bra and a black cap.

“It will be an unforgettable show here in Copacabana,” said Oliveira Bohrer, a retired civil servant who lives in the area.

18 sound towers have been placed along the beach to ensure all visitors can hear the hits. Their two-hour show is scheduled to begin at 9:45 p.m. local time.

City hall released a report in April estimating the concert will bring 293 million reals ($57 million) to the local economy. According to the Rio Hotel Association, hotel capacity in Copacabana is expected to reach 98%. Fans from across Brazil and as far away as Argentina and France searched for Airbnbs over the weekend, the platform said in a statement. And Rio’s international airport is forecasting an additional 170 flights from 27 destinations from May 1 to 6, city hall said in a statement.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Madonna, who knows if she’ll ever come back,” said Alessandro Augusto, 53, who flew in from the state of Ceara – about 2,500 km (1,555 miles) from Rio.

“Welcome Queen!” Read Heineken advertisements plastered all over the city. The lettering above the image shows an upside down bottle cap that resembles a crown. Heineken wasn’t the only company looking to capitalize on the excitement, with bars and restaurants reportedly preparing “Like a Virgin” cocktails, named after their 1984 hit. A downtown store known for selling carnival clothing , has completely reinvented itself and filled its shelves with Madonna costumes, fans, fanny packs and even underwear.

The organization of the mega event will be similar to New Year’s Eve, when millions of people gather at Copacabana for the world-famous fireworks display, local authorities said. This annual event often sees large-scale thefts and robberies, and there are fears such problems could occur at Madonna’s show.

The Rio state security plan calls for the presence of 3,200 military personnel and 1,500 civilian police on standby. In advance of the concert, the Brazilian Navy conducted inspections of ships that planned to position themselves at sea to watch the show.

Copacabana Beach has hosted several major concerts, including a 1994 New Year’s Eve show by Rod Stewart that attracted more than 4 million fans and was the largest free rock concert in history, according to Guinness World Records. However, many spectators had come to watch Rio’s fireworks show, so a more apt comparison might be to the Rolling Stones in 2006, where 1.2 million people crowded the sand, according to the military police’s newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo at the time quoted by Rio.

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