People usually say that Carnival in Brazil is the biggest party in the world. There is a reason for that. Did you know that Carnival is celebrated in the whole country during one week of festivities? The tradition varies depending on which region you are. Almost everybody knows that there is samba in Rio de Janeiro, but not many people know the amazing parties they will enjoy if they travel to other parts of the country during this magical time.
This year carnival will be celebrated officially from February 24th-28th, but in many cities the festivity is extended for a few more days. If you have some days available in your calendar, you still have time to plan a quick and fun vacation to Brazil. Below, we summarize a bit of the best that happens in the country at this time of the year.
The Salvador Carnival, in Bahia, is by far the biggest street party in the world. Every year, around 2 million people participate in the Salvador Carnival Parades. During six consecutive days, from 5pm to 5am, dozens of Bands make a parade along the streets, play-ing on big trucks (called Trios).
You can dance on the Salvador Carnival inside a safety area sorrounding the Trio, protected by bodyguards and thus isolated from the crowd. To be accepted it is necessary to buy a pass (called “Abadá”), a colorfull t-shirt that identify you as a member of the Trio.
Since 1991, the Anhembi Sambadrome is the focus of Carnival celebrations in Sao Paulo. The parade features the top samba schools from the city, which compete for the prestigious championship trophy. But the Sambadrome isn’t the only place for a Carnival experience in the biggest city of Brazil. On the streets the parties begin well before Carnival week with a number of street parades or blocos where the excitement is just as hot.
Carnival in Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, is characterized by blocos carnavalescos with varying themes and costume styles, almost always accompanied by a brass and drums band. It is very popular with college students in the area. The city has a large proportion of students, who during the year live in places called Repúblicas (a rented house maintained and ruled by themselves). During carnival, the Repúblicas are literally packed with residents and many visitors coming from all over the country.
The historic city of Paraty, located between the cities of São Paulo e Rio de Janeiro, celebrates the street carnival, as it was made in the old days. Everyday, at every moment, it is possible to see big dolls, with masks and costumes and all kinds of lively people playing in the streets. Paraty counts currently with many carnival blocos. The most famous of them is the “Bloco da Lama” (“Mud Bloco”). Muddy from head to toes, covered in rags, carrying skulls, lianas and bones, the “Mud Bloco” is said to have the function of repelling bad spirits and attracting joy to Paraty’s Carnival.
Olinda and Recife
Both these cities, in Pernambuco, are internationally famous for their Carnival celebrations.
Olinda, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site since 1982, offers visitors a unique experience they are not likely to forget in a lifetime. Much of the fun takes place on the streets. Revelers head straight for the historic center or “Cidade Alta”, which is the liveliest place during the Carnival. Energetic crowds dance to the rhythms of drums and horns in an array of the most creative and hilarious costumes, which you cannot afford to miss.
In Recife, the passion for “frevo” is felt the strongest during the Carnival. The high energy sounds of this tipical rhythm of Brazil is at the forefront with the “Desfile do Galo da Madrugada” (Parade of the Rooster of the Early Hour). You can join the crowd of over 2 million along the four-kilometer route around the central area of Recife.
Rio de Janeiro
Although Carnival is celebrated in many cities throughout Brazil, Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival capital of the world. The Rio Carnival is not only the biggest Carnival, it is also a bench-mark against which every other carnival is compared and one of the most interesting artistic events on the globe. The glorious Sambadrome Parades, with Rio de Janeiro’s 12 most elite samba schools, present a show full of unforgettable moments. You can purchase tickets to the big show. Throughout the neighborhoods of Rio, Cariocas celebrate the Carnival. People dance along the streets singing the songs of the Samba. Cariocas make no distinction between locals and foreigners, who are most welcome to participate in the event. Without a doubt, this is the favorite holiday celebration in Rio.