Every year for a week in February, Brazil is taken over by the wild, exuberant and pulsing display that is Carnival. The 2023 celebration is already in full swing! Many blocos area already parading through the streets and there’s decorations everywhere! Meant to celebrate the beginning of Catholic Lent, it’s perhaps most well-known for being an incredible spectacle of samba dancing, live music in the streets, world-class parades, colorful costumes, and vibrant revelry. Carnival in Brazil is the most popular time to visit the country, and is an experience that captures the essence of the lively Brazilian culture unlike any other. Think Mardi Gras turned all the way up… with a ton of Latin flair.
To dive further on the particularities of the Brazilian Carnival, read this super article!
When is Carnival in Brazil?
Celebrated between the Friday before Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday itself (51 days and 45 days before Easter respectively), you’ll find Carnival happening all over Brazil, yet the festivities in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia are by far the largest celebrations. The 2023 Brazilian Carnival will take place from the afternoon of Friday February 17 until midday on March 22, the Wednesday od Ashes.
Where to celebrate Carnival in Brazil
Rio de Janeiro capital
When talking about carnival in Brazil, the first image that comes to mind is the samba schools’ parades on the Sambadrome, claimed to be “the greatest show on earth”.
The event in Rio de Janeiro takes place over four nights, and on Friday and Saturday schools from the A series will perform (tickets from 15BRL); on Sunday and Monday it is the turn of the giants of the Special Group (tickets from 200BRL), with Portela, Mangueira, Beija-Flor and others.
But the Wonderful City Carnival goes far beyond the Sambadrome. After all, who hasn’t heard of the traditional street blocks? The most popular are Cordão do Bola Preta (Friday, on Av. Rio Branco), Banda de Ipanema (Saturday, on Praça General Osório), Cordão do Boiatá (Sunday, on Praça 15), Céu na Terra (Saturday, in Santa Teresa) and Simpatia é Quase Amor (Sunday, at Praça General Osório). Without a doubt, one of the best places to travel during Carnival in Brazil and to enjoy the many attractions of Rio de Janeiro in great style.
Get to know everything about Rio’s Carnival at our blog!
Another carnival that is a true landmark of Brazilian culture as it brings together a huge number of revelers behind the electric trios.
Salvador’s carnival is divided into circuits, where each one sells its own tickets and presents its own attractions; the main one is Dodô/Barra Ondina (Farol da Barra), where the main artists perform; other outstanding circuits are Osmar (Campo Grande) and Batatinha (Pelourinho).
To enjoy the party, you can choose the block you want and buy the abadá (a mandatory tshirt that works as a ticket) or buy the entrance to one of the cabins and enjoy the whole night; there is also the option of going pipoca (literally go bouncing like popcorn by foot), which is free, but evidently with a huge crowd. It takes a lot of energy and stamina to go after the electric trios.
Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais
Ouro Preto breathes the Brazilian colonial period and walking through its cobblestone streets takes us straight to the past, when the city became one of the most important in the country. Its Carnival is the favorite for university students, whether they are from Minas Gerais or from different Brazilian states and all over the world. The city’s atmosphere is unique, as it is full of hills and historic buildings.
The biggest tradition is in the street blocks, which receive important artists of Brazilian music, the most famous of which are the Bloco do Caixão (Saturday), Bloco Cabrobró (Sunday), Bloco da Praia (Monday) and Bloco Chapado (Tuesday).
It is important to point out that in Ouro Preto there is no airport, therefore, to get there, you need to disembark in the capital Belo Horizonte (Confins Airport) and from there take a direct bus to the city; the distance is 140 km.
Recife’s Carnival is one of the biggest events in Brazil during the period, with more than 1.5 million people coming together for six straight days and nights of revelry. The street party Galo da Madrugada represents the beginning of Carnival in Recife, with everyone dancing Brazilian rhythms like frevo and samba. Visitors will find lots of people dressed up as well-known personalities, so don’t be surprised to see Barack Obama or Fidel Castro waving to the crowd.
In Recife, Carnival is free for all, with blocks or groups allowed to play their own variety of music and put on their own show. One of the most touching moments of Carnival in Recife is the Night of Silent Drums, a tribute to African slaves who died in prison.
Still in Pernambuco, the magic of Carnival in Brazil continues in the colonial city of Olinda with people of all ages celebrating together. The Olinda’s Carnival receive a number of celebrities who come to the city every year to enjoy the charms of a very unique and picturesque celebration. Excited crowds line the streets early in the morning, dancing to the pulsing rhythms of drums and horns.
In Olinda, but not only, the Carnival outfits are a huge theme for Brazilians. Read more about Brazilian Carnival Costumes at our blog and don’t be left out.
Sao Paulo capital
Each year, the carnival in Brazil’s largest metropolis gets livelier, attracting tourists from all over the world. Like Rio de Janeiro, the capital of São Paulo is the stage for parades of samba schools during Carnival, attracting tourists from different parts of the world.
Held annually at the Anhembi Sambódromo, the show, with a lot of art, samba and tradition, is an opportunity to see up close great floats, the talent of passistas and drum queens, sing and dance a lot to the sound of lively percussion and learn a lot with each school routine, since each one brings a different tale to the avenue; they can talk about an specific artist, sportiest, place or, in general, relevant historical affairs.
In addition to the traditional parades and the street blocks, ideal for those who want to dress up, dance, drink and meet a lot of people, in 2023, the capital of São Paulo will be the stage for concerts by famous Brazilians artists, like Anitta and Alok, who promise a wild party for revelers!
Being the most famous holiday in Brazil, Carnival draws over a million tourists every year (1.5 million flocked to Rio de Janeiro alone for Carnival in 2019; Salvador around 800k). So, if you plan to visit any of the more popular destinations, you’ll definitely want to start planning in advance and at GT DMC we can provide the best itineraries for a perfect incentive trip. Whichever destination you choose, be guaranteed that, during Carnival in Brazil, your trip will be unlike any other experience!
Access www.gotogetherdmc.com and get in contacts to our travel specialists.