IN EVERY REGION, IN EVERY STATE, THE BRAZILIAN PEOPLE HAVE THEIR OWN DISTINCT CULTURES, TRADITIONS AND CELEBRATIONS. CHECK TEHM OUT!
The world’s greatest spectacle! That might just be the best definition of Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival.
Carnival originated in ancient Rome and then was revamped by Christianity to always begin on the day of the epiphany and run through to Ash Wednesday, the eve of Lent. It is known for its festivals, incorporating many pagan rituals and customs, and for the freedom of self-expression.
In the past it was known as Shrovetide, in Latin introis, which means “entrance”. At the end of the day, as are all things, it was secular and religious. And Carnival is celebrated throughout the world. However, in Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro, Carnival has taken on cinematic and superlative proportions. It is the parties of all parties. It is a great rite of celebration
How to dress up at Carnival
1) SAMBA SCHOOL
If you are going to be part of the official samba school parade you will have to buy your costume well in advance, via the school’s website.
2) FANTASY BALL
If your idea is to go to some large fancy dress ball, be it at a club, nightclub or closed party (like the traditional “Baile do Copa” (Copa Ball), at the Copacabana Palace Hotel or the Vogue Ball, the publications chic party), make a special effort. Pay attention to detail such as hair, make-up, and accessories.
3) BLOCK PARTY
Finally, for the street parties, you go as you wish – but, preferably, use light and comfortable clothes. Use and abuse the make-up and glitter and usually some sort of headdress is almost obligatory.
The Rio version has always been the more elaborate, chic and trendy of the celebrations, frequented by both Brazilian celebrities and those from overseas (this year the highlight was the presence of award-winning film director Tim Burton who commented, “The Rio show is like a movie I would like to make”.
However, the São Paulo version, these days, is also of huge importance. Since taking place at the Sambódromo do Anhembi (Anhembi Sambadrome), previously the parade was held along a famous street in the city centre, the samba schools have begun to invest more and more in their floats, costumes and overall performance. It also helped that Rio and Sao Paulo have formed a partnership which has brought significant improvements to both events.
THE SÃO PAULO / RIO DE JANEIRO PARTNERSHIP
Much of the progress of the São Paulo event has taken place thanks to the partnership established with Rio samba schools. The two spectacles not take place on the same day: half the São Paulo schools parade on Friday and the other half on Saturday. Then there’s a day off on Monday and the final results are released on Tuesday.
In Rio half of the schools parade on Sunday and the other half on Monday. Tuesday is the day off, and the results are confirmed on Wednesday. Thanks to the careful planning and cooperation of schedules both the participants – dancers, percussionists, etc. – and the tourists who come to watch the parades can be part of both events! Many of the teams that organise, rehearse and develop the parades for the schools of São Paulo, are in fact from Rio. Similarly, many Paulistas go to the Rio Sambadrome to show allegiance and support the samba schools from there. All mixed together for two large illustrious parties for our eyes, ears and heart to enjoy.
Parties from the North to the South
But Brazil is not limited to Carnival. In each region, in each state, there are dozens of other interesting parties. In the Amazon, for example, there is the Folklore Festival of Parintins also known as the party of the Boi-Bumbá (Boi meaning Bull). Two bulls, one red and called Garantido (Guaranteed), the other blue and called Caprichoso (Very Skilled), challenge each other by making a presentation each night. Each team consists of more than three thousand people and are evaluated by the stories they tell. In the end, there is a prize giving, held in the Bumbódromo (kind of arena). The Parintins Festival is the largest open air opera in Latin America and the greatest folklore in the world.
The Bonecos de Olinda (Olinda dolls), is the biggest attraction of the Carnival of Olinda (Pernambuco), and are giant puppets made of paper mache, with a wood and Styrofoam structure. The tradition began in 1919 after a Belgian priest told a young Pernambucano about the traditions of some European parties. Inspired by this, he created a puppet 3.90m tall and called it Zé Pereira. Zé was so popular that, ten years later, he gained a companion called Vitalina that until this day are displayed in the streets during the carnival celebrations. Currently the number of dolls created exceeds 100 and pay homage to national and international icons like Obama, Mandela, Pele, among others. There is a permanent exhibition of dolls on display at the Embassy of Pernambuco, in Old Recife.
The Círio de Nazaré, held in Belém do Pará (State of Pará) since 1793, is a catholic procession in the name of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré (Our Lady of Nazareth), one of the titles given to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The procession, that dates back more than two centuries, takes about nine hours and starts at the Cathedral of Belém and ends at the Praça Santuário de Nazaré (The Square of the Shrine of Nazareth), where the image of the Virgin Mary is exhibited for 15 days for the public to offer their prayers and make their requests. About 2 million pilgrims and devotees from throughout Brazil participate each year.
The Festa Junina (June Party) is celebrated throughout Brazil. The party in Caruaru, Pernambuco, is considered the biggest in the world. It is famous for its coloured flags, balloons, dances, firecrackers and rockets, and especially the food: peanuts, corn, coconut, quentão (type of hot, mulled drink made with cachaça), pé-de-moleque (Brazilian sweet made with crushed nuts), sweet potatoes, etc…
In Pernambuco there is Maracatu, a traditional show derived from cultures of African and American Indian descent, in which two distinctive groups parade: percussionists (drums) and the court, formed of characters who tell the story of each group. Every court must have a King and a Queen, a standard bearer and its Dama do Paço, amongst other roles. Women and spear throwers dress in colourful skirts made of cheap satin. The clothing can weigh at least 25 kilos and is made up of, amongst other things, a blanket of rhinestones and a set of bells that adorn their backs (known as Surrão). These days, as well as the Maracatu groups of Pernambuco (there are 10 important ones), there are many others throughout Brazil and overseas. In England there are five groups, with two in London: the Maracatu Estrela do Norte (North Star) and the Maracatudo Mafuá.
In Maranhão, there is the famous and classic Bumba-Meu-Boi (or Boi Bumba). This festival dates from the eighteenth century and mixes indigenous, European and African traditions. The festival tells the story of a period of cattle breeding by the slaves through theatre, music and dance, participants act out the abduction, death and resurrection of a bull.
Further south, in Goiás, there is the Cavalhadas, who represent a kind of medieval battle between Christians and Iberian Moors. Reuniting 24 horse riders, 12 red (Moors) and 12 blue (Christians), this party dates back to 1820. The population that follow the procession of the Cavalhada also participate, with appropriate costumes – and are dubbed – The Mascarados (The Masked).
In the Southeast Region of Brazil, the Festa do Divino (Party of the Divine), which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and occurs throughout the country, has one of its most important versions in São Luís do Paraitinga, in the city of Vale do Paraíba Sao Luis do Paraitinga (SP). It is held during the last ten days of June and attracts many people who seek blessings and who want to accompany the procession of the Divine.
In Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, during Semana Santa (Holy Week), the passion and resurrection of Christ are remembered with huge carpets made of coloured sawdust that line the streets and a procession, where children dress up as angels.
The revellers party non-stop, dancing and celebrating this most public affair: there are no restrictions at all in terms of age, gender, social background etc – nothing! Everyone happily parties together. And then afterwards, as they say, “the year can begin for real”.
In Vinhedo, a city in the state of São Paulo, the traditional Festa da Uva (Grape Festival) began in 1948, and since has 55 held festivals. Amongst the various attractions are the exhibition and sale of fruits, auctions of prized fruits, assorted crafts, a kid’s amusement park, concerts, dance recitals, a food court, a horse-riding show, a motorcycle convoy and much, much more.
Brazil also has other important parties like the Festa do Peão de Barretos in the state of São Paulo, the Lavagem da Escadaria do Bonfim (the washing of the Bonfim staircase), in front of the Senhor do Bonfim Basilica in Salvador (Bahia), and some well-known German celebrations like Oktoberfest. Check out the list of other parties and their regions:
|Festa de São Sebastião||Saint Sebastian’s Festival||Brasil||Religious celebrations, masses and processions||January|
|Festa do Bonfim||Bonfim Festival||Salvador, Bahia||Event of religious syncretism, traditional washing of the staircase, masses and processions||January|
|Festa de Navegantes||Mariners’ Festival||Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul||Novena prayers, masses, processions, shows and gastronomy||January (end of the month)|
|Festa de Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes||Our Lady of the Mariners’ Festival||Salvador, Bahia; Itajaí, Blumenau, Santa Catarina; and Porto Alegre, Navegantes, Rio Grande do Sul||Religious event, with processions, novena prayers, masses in honour of the protector of mariners. Lasts 12 days, until 2 February||January (end of the month), until the beginning of February|
|Festa da Uva||Grape Festival||Jundiaí, São Paulo||Event which celebrates the grape harvest, with parties, markets, presentations and shows||January (second half)|
|Festa da Uva||Grape Festival||Ponta Grossa, Paraná||Event which celebrates the grape harvest, with markets, sales of grape products and shows||January (second half)|
|Festa Nacional do Vinho (Fenavinho)||National Wine Festival||Bento Gonçalves, Rio Grande do Sul||Event which occurs once every two years, with expositions, wine and grape tasting and shows||January and February (every other year)|
|Festa da Melancia||Watermelon Festival||Arroio dos Ratos, Rio Grande do Sul||Event put on by Watermelon producers, with shows and a beauty pageant||February|
|Festa de Iemanjá||Iemanjá Festival||Brasil||Celebration from the Afro-Brazilian calendar, in tribute to Iemanjá, African Goddess of Water||02/fev|
|Festa da Uva||Grape Festival||Caxias do Sul, Paraná||Event which celebrates the grape harvest, with parties, markets, presentations and shows||February/March|
|Festa da Melancia||Watermelon Festival||Jatobá do Piauí, Piauí||Agricultural event, with mass, sporting and cultural competitions and shows||March|
|Festa do Boi Falô||Boi Falô Festival||Campinas, São Paulo||Gastronomy festival, with dance and roots music shows||March|
|Festa da Pitomba||Pitomba Festival||Jaboatão dos Guararapes, Pernambuco||Religious and cultural festival, with presentations, processions, speeches and shows||March/April|
|Fepimenta||Pepperfest||Turuçu, Rio Grande do Sul||Festival commemorating the pepper harvest||April|
|Festa de Tradições da Ilha||Island Traditions Festival||São Francisco do Sul, Santa Catarina||Cultural presentations, gastronomic and handcrafts event||April|
|Festa do Quiririm||Quiririm Festival||Taubaté, São Paulo||Local Italian community festival||April (end of the month)|
|Expokennedy||Expokennedy||Presidente Kennedy, Espírito Santo||Rodeo||April (first half)|
|Festa de Nossa Senhora das Mercês||Our Lady of Mercy Festival||São João Del Rei, Minas Gerais||Traditional religious celebration in honour of Our Lady of Mercy||May|
|Festa das Nações||Festival of Nations||Vargem Grande do Sul, São Paulo||Festival of folklore, culture and solidarity||May|
|Triunfo Eucarístico||Eucharistic Triumph||Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais||Regional religious and Baroque festival||May|
|Festa Nacional do Chimarrão||National Chimarrão Festival||Venâncio Aires, Rio Grande do Sul||Festival dedicated to agricultural produce, with an exposition, shows, theatre, a Motorcross competition and a beauty pageant||May (two weekends)|
|Festa Nacional do Milho||National Corn Festival||Patos de Minas, Minas Gerais||Big agricultural fair, with an exhibition park, rodeo, gastronomic events, auctions, shows, beauty pageant and sporting activities||May (end of the month)|
|Festa Nacional do Pinhão||National Pine Nut Festival||Lages, Santa Catarina||Themed festival, with national and regional shows, traditional dances and a singing competition||May (end of the month)|
|Festa de Santo Antônio de Barbalha/Festa do Pau da Bandeira||St. Anthony of Barbalha/Flagpole Festival||Barbalha, Ceará||Religious and cultural forms of expression from different local groups||May/June|
|Festa do Mastro||Mast Festival||Capela, Sergipe; and Pirenópolis, Goiás||Procession, marching, tree-felling and parties||June|
|Forró Caju||Forró Caju||Aracaju, Sergipe||June Festivities, with cultural activities and traditional regional music shows with nationally famous artists||June|
|Mossoró Cidade Junina||Mossoró City June fest||Mossoró, Rio Grande do Norte||Traditional Brazilian June Festivities||June|
|São João||Saint John||Campina Grande, Paraíba||One of the country’s biggest St John’s Festival celebrations||June|
|Festa dos Caminhoneiros||Truck drivers Festival||Itabaiana, Sergipe||Festival with religious presentations and musical shows||June (first half)|
|Festa Junina/Folguedo/Quermesse||June Festivities/Merriment/Kermess||Brasil||Festivals paying tribute to Saint John||June/July|
|Festa do Ovo||Egg Festival||Bastos, São Paulo||Regional Avicultural and agricultural event, with speeches, exhibitions and shows, during three days||July|
|Festa do Vinho||Wine Festival||Andradas, Minas Gerais; and Urussanga, Santa Catarina||Parade, shows and events paying tribute to the wine producing region||July|
|Festiqueijo||Cheese fest||Carlos Barbosa, Rio Grande do Sul||Gastronomic event, with exhibition and cheese and wine tasting, and shows||July|
|Romaria dos Cavaleiros de Santana||Pilgrimage of the Knights of Santana||Analândia, São Paulo||Procissão religiosa em homenagem à Sant’Ana Religious procession in honour of St Ana||July|
|Festa de aniversário de Padre Cícero||Religious event to celebrate Padre Cícero birthday||Juazeiro, Ceará||Religious event to celebrate Padre Cícero birthday||July|
|Festa da Polenta de Santa Olímpia||Santa Olímpia Polenta Festival||Piracicaba, São Paulo||Gastronomic festival, with choral presentations and folk dancing||July (end of the month)|
|Festa do Peão de Tujuguaba||Rancher of Tujuguaba Festival||Conchal, São Paulo||Rodeo and shows||July (end of the month), until the beginning of August|
|Festa do Senhor Bom Jesus||Good Lord Jesus Festival||Tremembé, São Paulo||Meeting of Drovers and travellers for masses and prayers beside the sanctuary paying tribute to Jesus||July (end of the month), until the beginning of August|
|Festa do São Pedro de Belém||Saint Peter Festival, Belém||Belém, Paraíba||Traditional Brazilian June Festivities||July (first weekend)|
|Festa Nacional da Cenoura||National Carrot Festival||São Gotardo, Minas Gerais||Festival promoted by the agricultural sector paying tribute to the municipality’s culture||July (second half)|
|Festa Nacional do Boi no Rolete||Ox on a Spit National Festival||Marechal Cândido Rondon, Paraná||Event with two fairs (Expomar and Expopecuária) for industry, commerce and services from the agricultural and agribusiness sectors||July (second half)|
|Festitália||Italy fest||Blumenau, Santa Catarina||Gastronomic and cultural festival dedicated to Italian culture, with traditional dishes and presentations from folk groups and singers||July (second half)|
|Festribal||Tribal fest||Juruti, Pará||Festival for the city’s native indigenous culture, among the Amazon’s biggest cultural events, and is known for its traditional confrontation between the Mundurucu tribe (red and yellow) and the Muirapinima (red and blue); with shows as well||July (end of the month), until the beginning of August|
|Festa Nacional do Kiwi||National Kiwi Festival||Farroupilha, Rio Grande do Sul||Promoted by the City Chamber of Industry, Commerce and Services, with exhibitions, traditional gastronomy, cultural and sporting activities and shows||July and August|
|Festa de Santana||Santana Festival||Caicó, Rio Grande do Norte||Religious and cultural programming||July/August|
|Congada do Terno de Sainha Irmãos Paiva||Terno de Sainha Irmãos Paiva Group’s Congada||Santo Antônio da Alegria, São Paulo||Religious-folkloric festival, with afro-Brazilian origins, the group has over 100 years of tradition.||August|
|Festa de Aparecida||Aparecida Festival||São Manuel, São Paulo||Festival of worship for Our Lady Aparecida||August|
|Festa de São Joaquim e São Roque||St. Joachim and St. Roch Festival||Joaquim Egídio, São Paulo||Celebration for the patron saints, with masses and shows||August|
|Festa do Peão de Boiadeiro||Herdsman’s boy Festival||Barretos, São Paulo||Biggest and most important rodeo, with concurrent events and shows||August|
|Festa Nacional do Charque||Dried meat Festival||Candói, Paraná||Country rodeo, cavalcade, exhibitions and shows||August (end of the month)|
|Nossa Senhora Achiropita||Our Lady Achiropita||São Paulo, São Paulo||Festival in honour of the patron saint of the Italians||August (weekends)|
|Auto da Liberdade||Freedom Festival||Mossoró, Rio Grande do Norte||Stage spectacular (sometimes open-air), which mixes theatre, music and dance||September|
|Festa de São Benedito||St. Benedict Festival||Tietê, São Paulo||Religious programming, procession and cultural activities||September|
|Festa do Sairé||Sairé Festival||Santarém, Pará||Processions and folk demonstrations to the rhythm of traditional Carimbó dance||September|
|Festa Nacional da Costela||National Rib Festival||União da Vitória, Paraná||Gastronomic festival by cattle producers, with a fair, exhibition and shows||September|
|Semana Farroupilha||Farroupilha Revolution Week||Rio Grande do Sul||Festival with gaúcho traditions (gaúcho = from Rio Grande do Sul), which commemorates the declaration of the Republic of Rio Grande do Sul||September|
|Pomitafro||Pomitafro||Vila Pavão, Espirito Santo||Cultural event which honours Pomeranian, Italian and African cultures||September (end of the month)|
|Festa das Etnias||Ethnicities Festival||Criciúma, Santa Catarina||Cultural and gastronomic event with musical shows||September (first half)|
|Festa de Nossa Senhora do Rosário||Our Lady of the Rosary Festival||Aracati, Ceará||Religious homage to the city’s patron saint, with masses, canticles and novena prayers||September/October|
|Fenarreco||Fenarreco||Brusque, Santa Catarina||National Marreco (Garganey) Duck Festival – gastronomic event||October|
|Festa da Polenta||Polenta Festival||Venda Nova do Imigrante, Espírito Santo||Gastronomic event, with beauty pageant, musical presentations and traditional dance||October|
|Festa da Primavera||Spring Festival||Curitiba, Paraná||Event with flower exhibitions, bazaars and arts and crafts||October|
|Festa de Santa Teresinha||St. Teresa Festival||Tietê, São Paulo||Bazaar, gastronomy, shows and religious events||October|
|Festa do Rosário||Rosary Festival||Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais||Over 300 year old religious event from the local black community, with folklore and shows||October|
|OktoberFemorango||Strawberry October Fair||Turuçu, Rio Grande do Sul||Cultural fair, arts and crafts, shows and sales of strawberry derived products||October|
|Oktoberfest||Oktoberfest||Blumenau, Santa Catarina; Guaramiranga, Ceará; Missões, Rio Grande do Sul; Olinda and Recife, Pernambuco; Rolândia, Paraná; Santa Cruz do Sul; Rio Grande do Sul||Traditional German style festival, dedicated to beer; with an events, produce and cultural fair||October|
|Congada/Congado||Congada/Congado||Minas Gerais, Goiás||Folkloric merriment which mixes religious and traditional historic cults from the Congo||October (during the Nossa Senhora do Rosário festival)|
|Schützenfest – Festa do Tiro||Shot Festival||Blumenau, Santa Catarina||Traditional German beer festival||November|
|Festa Nacional do Chope Escuro (München Fest)||National Dark Draught Beer Festival||Ponta Grossa, Paraná||Beverage themed event, with shows, beauty pageant and musical parades||November (end of the month), until the beginning of December|
|Marejada||Marejada||Itajaí, Santa Catarina||Cultural and gastronomic event, with musical events, which culminates with the traditional arrival of the sailboats of the French regatta Transat Jacques Vabre||November (first half)|
|Festa da Conceição da Praia||Beach Conception Festival||Salvador, Bahia||Religious procession honouring the Immaculate Conception||December|
|Festa do Caju||Cashew Festival||Jaçanã, Rio Grande do Norte||Agricultural event, with musical shows, beauty pageant and fruit expo||December|
|Natal||Christmas||Natal, Rio Grande do Norte||Christmas festival||December|
|Natal Luz||Christmas Lights||Gramado, Rio Grande do Sul||Christmas festival||December|
|Sonho de Natal||Christmas Dream||Canela, Rio Grande do Sul||Christmas festival||December|
|Cavalo Marinho||Sea Horse||Olinda, Pernambuco||Scenic party to honour the Three Kings||December (Christmas period)|
|Festa do Divino Espírito Santo||Holy Spirit Festival||Brasil||Religious event, with processions, novena prayers and masses, as well as folkloric activities||Pentecost Sunday (50 days after Easter)|
|Procissão do Fogaréu||Cresset Procession||Brasil||Religious procession which symbolizes the search for and the arrest of Christ||During Easter|
|Folguedo||Merriment||Brasil||Popular, playful festivals in diverse regions of Brazil. Some have religious origins, either from Catholicism, or African and folkloric traditions||Various dates|