It’s no secret that Brazilians know how to party. In honor of Carnaval, we take a look at the most epic celebrations in Brazil in this post. The good news is that if you can’t make it to South America, you can join us for an energizing Carnaval weekender at SUSHISAMBA City.
Rio de Janeiro
Considered the greatest party on the planet, Rio’s annual Carnaval celebration brings scores of spectacular floats surrounded by thousands of dancers, singers and drummers dressed in elaborate costumes, masks and headdresses parading through the Oscar Niemeyer-designed Sambódromo arena in the heart Rio de Janeiro. The origin of Brazil’s Carnaval dates back to a Portuguese pre-Lent festivity called “entrudo,” a chaotic happening where participants threw mud, water and food at each other in a street event that often led to riots.
Rio de Janeiro’s first masquerade Carnaval parade took place in 1840, where the participants danced to polkas and performed the waltz. The sound closely associated with the Brazilian Carnaval, the samba, did not become part of the festival until 1917. Today the Carnaval celebration is organized by the escolas de samba (samba schools) of Rio de Janeiro.
Located on the Atlantic coast of Brazil, Salvador is the capital of Bahia, one of Brazil’s 26 states. The city’s Carnaval delivers six full days of fanfare and fun, with every day bringing about 16 hours a day full of music and celebration. The days-long party hosts about 2.5 million people annually, of which 1.5 million are tourists.
From the city to the shore to a range of historical neighborhoods, Bahia’s Carnaval unfurls with rhythms, performances, parties, parades and tradition. Bahia gave birth to “trio eléctrico,” (known more commonly as simply a “trio”), a special type of truck/float that includes an elevated stage for musical performances and a booming sound system. First coined in 1950, trios are now a mainstay at Carnavals throughout Brazil.
In the northeast part of Brazil, you’ll find Recife and Olinda, where one of the country’s most multicultural and colorful Carnavals of Brazil unfolds.
A beautiful city full of rivers and bridges, Recife is also the capital of the Brazilian state Pernambuco. Dating back to the 16th century, Recife Antigo is the city’s historic old town center, and a very special place to experience Carnaval festivities; from singing along to frevo, theregion’s native musical style to enjoying the region’s own style of Afro-Brazilian dance performances, maracatu, there is no shortage of music and camaraderie.
Just about 5 miles away from Recife is the colonial town of Olinda. Here, revelers parade alongside the city’s infamous giant puppets–some as tall as 15 ft.–as they collectively wind through its alleys and hills. The puppet parade is helmed by the celebration’s most famous character, The Midnight Man, a character inspired by a legendary Olinda paramour who climbed from window to window romancing the city’s women.
The colonial town of Ouro Preto is another Carnaval highlight. Located within the mountains of Eastern Brazil, its winding cobblestone streets, squares and fountains make for an instantly picturesque setting in which thousands celebrate carnaval. Throughout the town, traditional band music plays as people dress up in costumes (with a decidedly “less is more” theme for their chosen garb ) enjoying samba schools and street parties, or “blocos,” Carnaval’s street bands that keep the performance moving through the street.
With a huge population of university students, the revelers in Ouro Preto are young and fun-loving. But be warned! You must plan in advance to visit Ouro Preto’s carnaval, including booking a “republica”: student halls rented out specifically during Carnaval.