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Brazil's best carnivals

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No-one parties like the Brazilians. The sounds, the colours, the costumes and the sheer unadulterated hedonism of a Brazilian festival are unbeatable. From the flamboyant extravaganza of the world renowned Rio Carnival to the smaller local celebrations that give you an insight into different regional cultures, there are endless festivals dotted across the Brazilian calendar. We’ve gathered together a few of our favourite events to inspire you to join in the festivities on your next trip to Brazil.

Umbrellas at a carnival in Recife, Brazil

Party at Rio Carnival

The party to end all parties takes place 40 days before Easter for five days of utter abandon. The incredible spectacle of the parades are a huge part of the appeal - the artistry and imagination involved is staggering, let alone the eye-popping costumes and impressive choreography. Apart from the parades many people come to Rio de Janeiro at Carnival time in order to let their hair down at the grand balls, or the ‘blocos’ - street parties which take place in many neighbourhoods across the city. For young and old alike, the parties are great fun, with live music, throngs of people in extravagant costumes, and a huge sense of freedom and excitement.  

Women celebrating at Rio de Janeiro Carnival

Make a toast at Oktoberfest in Blumenau

For two and a half weeks every October, the southern Brazilian town of Blumenau becomes a little corner of Germany in tribute to its German roots. This Santa Caterina State community was founded by German colonists in 1850 and the Oktoberfest, which has taken place annually since 1986, is now the world’s second largest such celebration after the original in Munich. The festivities stay close to their roots with lots of different beers available, a constant supply of wurst (German sausages) and plenty of traditional German outfits. Including the enthusiastic participation of the locals, around one million people join the fun every year.

The German Village Park in Blumenau

Join the procession at Lavagem do Bonfim in Salvador

This coastal city is a hub of colourful culture and it has a fantastic Carnival of its own in the days before Ash Wednesday, one of the most exciting and important outside Rio de Janeiro. For a more low key and traditional event, head to Salvador for the third Thursday in January where the steps of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim Church receive some special attention. Crowds of devoted worshippers form a procession through Salvador, including hundreds of local women dressed in their finest Bahian splendour, and when they arrive at the church they ceremonially wash the steps with scented water and sing devotional songs.

A local Bahian lady on the steps of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim Church

Celebrate the Festival do Boi Bumbá in São Luís

Celebrated across three main days in late June, this is the biggest celebration in the northern region of Amazonas. The Festival do Boi Bumba (also known as Bumba Meu Boi) marks the importance of local folklore and celebrates the heritage of the indigenous Amazonian culture.  The fun filled festival uses parades featuring music, dance, acting and singing to retell the tale of an ox that died and then came back to life. It is essentially a big competition between team Garantido and team Caprichoso, each vying to out-dazzle the other with their flamboyant show. It’s an event that brings the whole city out to party, and has a great cultural aspect which makes it appealing to visitors.

A toy ox at the Festival do Boi Bumba in São Luís

Bring in the New Year on Copacabana Beach

Everybody knows that the Cariocas know how to party, so what better place to see in the New Year than on one of Rio’s most famous beaches. This famous celebration often involves around two million revellers who pack the beach from dusk on 31st December, to enjoy the show. Expect several simultaneous live music concerts at intervals along the beach, along with general merrymaking, dancing and a more sedate Candomble religious celebration alongside. When the clock strikes twelve, a huge firework show lights up the shoreline, then the party really gets going!

Fireworks above Copacabana Beach on New Year's Eve

Have a tipple at the Festival de Cachaça in Paraty

An easy trip from Rio brings you to the pretty colonial seaside town of Paraty where each August a long weekend is set aside to enjoy a favourite Brazilian tipple - cachaça. The celebrations include numerous opportunities to sample the classic sugar cane based spirit, the best examples of which can be smooth, fiery and delicious. There are lots of street food trucks and stalls to choose from, so you can try out some authentic Brazilian cuisine along with the cachaça. To ensure the atmosphere keeps up with the enticing food and drink, there are various concerts and samba performances to enjoy.    

Pretty streets in Paraty, Brazil where the Festival de Cachaça takes place

Make it happen

Brazil throws some awesome parties and you are all invited, so why not plan your Brazilian adventure to include a festival or two, a great excuse to let your hair down on holiday. Our specialist local partners know all the best festivals to experience, and will plan your itinerary around your priorities. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.

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