Learn about Music, Costumes, Extravagance and the Spirit of Brazilian Carnival

The anthropologist and journalist Haroldo Costa states in the introduction of his book 100 years of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro:

“The Carioca carnival is one of the most legitimate expressions of the Brazilian way of being. So much so that, escaping from the geographic sphere of our city, its transformation took place inexorably, influencing other cities and states, creating a temperature that has nothing to do with the weather, but rather with the internal pulsation and contamination of difficult resistance. In the streets, its natural habitat, in the halls, on the beaches, there is not a single place where the carnival of Rio de Janeiro is not present”.

Streets of Rio Carnival

The nature of Brazilian carnival is of constant evolution. Costa points out that it, “is a very interesting trip through the various phases that carnival is going through, recording the musical talent of the people, creating visual devices, be they fancies or floats, always adding innovations and varieties, always taking care not to lose sight of the reasons for their existence which are the spontaneous joy of the people and the sum of our cultural influences.”

Carnival party in Salvador, Bahia. Bloco dos Bonecões no Pelourinho = Big Dolls Group in Pelourinho

Ways to celebrate Carnival

A Samba School is a type of community association that is characterized by the singing and dancing of samba, almost always with competitive intent. Originating in the city of Rio de Janeiro, the samba schools present themselves in public spectacles, a parade, a moving play.

These performances are accompanied by drums; the actors and musicians- which may be a few hundred or even thousands of people- use costumes alluding to the theme proposed, with most of them parading on foot and a minority parading on “cars” or floats, where papier-mâché sculptures and other props are also placed. The best-known samba schools are in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, which parade in the “Sambódromo”. The Sambodromo is a space reserved for this yearly celebration and parade, Carnaval! Brazilian Carnival is so important there are spaces exclusively reserved for it.

União da Ilha school parade in Rio’s Sambódromo

These schools hold a competitive show, a competition that is known around the world as one of the most glamorous and ostentatious displays on earth. Tourists come from all over the world to watch, participate, sing and dance. Unlike the Rose Bowl Parade, an American cultural event, in which most of the work is done by trained professionals, the parade of each samba school is totally done by the community.

Beyond a musical group, schools have often become neighbourhood associations that cover the social needs and issues of the communities they represent (such as educational and medical care resources).

The Samba school “Acadêmicos de Venda Nova” offers professionalizing courses for the community of João Batista em Venda Nova (BH)

More Parties

The celebration in the northeastern state of Pernambuco is one of the most celebrated, animated and traditional of Brazil. Its calendar, of course, anticipates and extends, far beyond, the three main days of carnival.

Carnival in Olinda, Pernambuco

The carnival of Salvador, Bahia, is a popular street party that is organized annually in Salvador, in the Brazilian state of Bahia. It began to evolve from the difference between social classes – street carnival versus carnival in private clubs – resulting in a reversal of the social order. The Carnival of Salvador begins six days before Ash Wednesday or a Thursday night. It is spread throughout 7 circuits and 12 districts of Salvador city with musical presentations and carnival parades, as well as space for small dance parties, electronic music, of all ages. After a period of decadence of the street festivities, when the carnival of the city was almost exclusively limited to the parades of the samba schools, the carnival of the blocks and street bands began to grow, officially entering the Guinness Book. This is just a bit of history because Brazilian Carnival is certainly one of a kind.

Famous Brazilian singer Ivete Sangalo happy at Carnival in Salvador, Bahia

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Celebrate life passionately and in color the way Brazilians do!