The Carnival of Brazil is an annual extravaganza that begins 51 days before Easter on a Friday afternoon and ends on Ash Wednesday at noon. Sprawling on the white sands of the Copacabana beach, casually sipping a Caipirihna while looking out at the ocean; ah, the mind does a samba at the prospect! While the most famous carnival in Brazil is undoubtedly the one in Rio Di Janeiro, there are at least a dozen other places in Brazil that throw a mean carnival…
Rio Di Janeiro
Tripped out!! Photo Courtesy: Miratico
Needless to say, the Carnival of Brazil in Rio Di Janeiro is a hotspot for locals and backpackers alike. The highlight of the Carnival is of course, the parade, filled with revellers, floats, and adornments from numerous samba schools which are located in Rio. As the parade is taking place in the Sambadrome and the balls are being held in the Copacabana Palace and beach, many carnival participants are at other locations. Street festivals are very common during carnival and are highly populated by the locals.
All that glitters IS gold. Photo Courtesy: Carnival bookers
Hordes of people head to the Sao Paulo Carnival every year, to party their noses off and to experience unique aspects of Afro-Brazilian culture. Unlike Rio, the main days of the Carnival are Friday and Saturday with the top samba schools competing for the prestigious championship trophy; the winners of which are declared on Ash Wednesday. Over 30,000 spectators at the Sambadrome are transported into frenzy as the sights and sounds of the samba schools begin to work through their bodies. Tickets are available across a range of prices, so you can be sure to find one in your budget!
We’re here, we’re queer! The Florianapolis Gay Carnival. Photo Courtesy: Mister10
Florianapolis, a less populated Brazilian city located on a verdant, mountainous island in the south of Brazil, also offers a chance to party like crazy during the Carnival and enjoy some well-deserved beach time. The Florianapolis carnival is a diverse mix of samba, street parties and parades. As a build up to the Carnival, several small parties happen through the course of the few weeks preceding it. This includes the famous and hilarious Florianapolis Gay Carnival. The carnival hosts the Pop Gay competition, a beauty contest for drag queens and transgender people.
Trio Electrico Trucks, the moving boomboxes! Photo Courtesy: Wanderlust wonderings
The Bahian Carnival, in the Brazilian state of Bahia, is celebrated mainly in its capital, Salvador. One of the main attractions of the Carnaval da Bahia is the presence of Trio Elétrico trucks, which is a generic reference to trucks or buses carrying musicians around. The Carnival attracts hordes of music lovers, and is an important platform in itself for musicians across the country. Beer lovers would love to hear that 10 million liters of beer are consumed every year in Salvador only during this event!
Salvador seems to have high crime levels, so it would perhaps be prudent to take safety precautions, and read up in detail about the Carnival by means of blogs, before making a trip to the city.
Recife and Olinda
It’s one giant, colourful family! Photo Courtesy: Picssr
If you wish to take a slice out of the magic of the carnivals in Brazil, and do so, on a shoestring budget, your best bet would be to head over to Recife and Olinda – colourful and multicultural cities in the northeast. You can get to Recife by flight or road; Olinda has no airport or bus station, but is only 7kms from Recife and local cars make short work of the trip. It’s totally ok to dress up weirdly, fill your hair and face with glitter, wear shoes you don’t mind throwing away on Ash Wednesday and become BFFs with total strangers!
Nutty crowd!! Photo Courtesy: Vitrine de Costa
Porto Seguro hosts a crazy Carnival and hedonistic bash, replete with round-the-clock music, footloose dancing and partying! It’s a little less wild than some of Brazil’s famous, but it lasts until the Saturday after Ash Wednesday. For cultural buffs, the Festa de São Benedito, which involves colourful, traditional dances and regional foods, is celebrated in the Cidade Histórica. Children blacken their faces and perform African dances from December 25th- 27th.
How FUN is this!! Photo Courtesy: Blick
It is no coincidence that Paraty contains the word Party in it because Paraty loves to put on a great festival, starting with has its own odd version of Easter Carnival. Hundreds of young revellers dance through the cobblestone streets and during Holy Week beautiful torchlit processions take place. Paraty hosts a unique carnival. In Paraty’s Mud Carnival – the costumes that its participants wear is black sticky mud which is smeared on their bodies!
Planning a trip to the carnival??
We have three words for you… Vai, Vai, Vai!
So, go head, take your pick of the lot and head over to Brazil and prepare to let your head down for the biggest carnival in the world! It looks promising as hell!!
Feature Image Courtesy: Rough Guides.