Last updated: 10:24 PM ET, Thu February 04 2016

Where to Go When Carnival Kicks Off in Brazil

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | February 04, 2016

Where to Go When Carnival Kicks Off in Brazil

PHOTO: Dancing in Rio for Carnival in Brazil. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)

More than 3 million revelers are expected to visit Brazil for Carnival, which takes place Feb. 5-10. If you are traveling there to visit during the event, make sure you get acquainted with the many different celebrations that make up Carnival. It’s not all about Rio de Janeiro. Many visitors don’t realize that massive parties take place throughout the country.


Salvador, the capital of Bahia, has an estimated 2 million festival attendees during Carnival and holds the Guinness record for the largest street party in the world.

Its Carnival kickoff celebration includes a masquerade ball called "Baile dos Mascarados,” as well as the traditional handing over of the keys to the city to the “Carnival King,” which is done by the mayor.

Visitors can get involved in local activities and celebrations by choosing a neighborhood block to join and marching in the Carnival parades. The only requirement to join a block is to buy a shirt to participate and follow the “trio elétricos” through the circuit around the city.

Recife and Olinda

Recife has its own distinctive Carnival symbol: the “Galo da Madrugada” or the “rooster of dawn.” Millions of revelers follow this festive and folkloric doll down Forte das Cinco Pontas to the harbor during the traditional Saturday morning parade, dancing to frevo, Recife’s regional Carnival music.

For Brazilians, Recife is one of the top Carnivals to attend, and the city's population swells to 2 million people during the celebration.

Visitors to Recife’s neighboring city of Olinda will also see carnival dancers jumping with umbrellas in hand and dancing to frevo. The five-day festival begins with the typical parade of giant puppets known as mamulengos. 

READ MORE: 5 of the Best Carnivals in Europe


The northeast part of the country stands out as a region of joy, relaxation and celebration during Carnival. In Fortaleza, the capital of the state of Ceará, what stands out the most are the maracatu groups and the dances at Iracema Beach and Avenue Domingos Olimpio, which are the major sites of Fortaleza’s celebration.


The creation of the Carnaboi party helped join Carnival celebrations with the traditions of the Boi Bumba, turning this into one of the most famous Carnival celebrations in the Amazon. The Manaus Carnival keeps traditions that go back to the early 20th century alive with its great parade of traditional costumes that takes place in the historic city center.


Carnival in Florianópolis is among the best in Brazil. Similar to Rio, the celebration is cheerful and open to all; gays, lesbians and other supporters head to Magic Island to enjoy a quiet and lively street party. At the city center, samba schools parade on the Nego Quirido catwalk.


Carnival in Diamantina takes place among narrow streets full of old mansions, and the party has no time limit – it is an ongoing celebration 24 hours a day, for the full five days. Everything takes place in the Old Market Square, with more than 15,000 people joining in the fun on a daily basis.

READ MORE: Hiking Rio’s Famous Peaks

Ouro Preto

Most of the carnival celebrations in Ouro Preto are organized by local university students, called Cabrobró. But there are also events organized by residents of Ouro Preto, including the oldest carnival group in the country; The Zé Pereira dos Lacaios.

Sao Paulo

Similar to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo has a competition between different samba schools. Carnival in Sao Paulo starts on the Friday and Saturday of Carnival week, a day before Rio de Janeiro, at the Anhembi Sambadrome. Anhembi Sambadrome. Here top samba schools congregate to compete for the grand honor of winning the Carnival championship title. Festivalgoers can expect to see a lot of Afro-Brazil cultural influences and dances in Sao Paulo's Carnival. 

Rio de Janeiro

For many years, Rio de Janeiro has been known for its main samba parade, which will take place Feb. 5-8 this year. During this enormous parade, six of the 12 best samba schools march to the Sambodromo (Samba Stadium) each day for the opportunity to be selected as the year’s champion. What many travelers might not know prior to planning their trip is that the Carnival fun doesn't end there and that the festival has additional samba parades, Carnival balls, children's parades, neighborhood block parties and other events that are just as entertaining. 

For more information on Brazil

For more Destination & Tourism News


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Xcaret: Experience All of Mexico in One Place

Hotels & Resorts