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Carnival time in Brazil is not only one of the most entertaining times of the year in the country but a great opportunity for tourists to experience the essence of Brazilian culture. The 2014 Brazil Carnival promises to be even better with Rio leading the way in celebrations across the country. However, many other cities put up an equally grand show during Carnival week which begin from the 28th to the 5th of March 2014. Cities like Sao Paulo, Recife, Olinda, Florianopolis, and Salvador da Bahia celebrate the Carnival with fervor, which are also popular destinations for tourists during the season.
Carnival celebrations in the twin towns of Recife and Olinda are as vibrant and entertaining. While the celebrations reach a feverish pitch during Carnival week, the parties begin as early as December.
The parades and street parties have a strong African influence where the Carnival spirit spreads like magic to every street corner. Among the popular parades is the Rooster of the Dawn or the Galo da Madrugada, the opening event of the Recife Carnival. The Night of the Silent Drums is one of the most emotional moments during the Carnival celebrations where the town’s best drummers play an ode to the slaves who unfortunately died during imprisonment.
The twin town of Olinda hosts an equally grand spectacle as its neighbor during the Brazil Carnival. The pulsating beats of the samba drums echo throughout the town where the old and the young gather together in elaborate costumes to celebrate the Carnival in a way that only the locals know.
The most colorful parade is Bonecos, where giant papier-mâché puppets are paraded throughout the town on Carnival Friday. Drag queens and transvestites are out in large numbers on the day and host their own show, which has become increasingly popular with the gay and straight alike.
Another big event leading up to the Carnival in Olinda is the New Virgens do Bairro Novo de Olinda, one of the largest blocos that parades through the town towards the seafront. Recife and Olinda are great places to enjoy the Brazil Carnival. However, you will need to book your accommodation well in advance since there are many people that desire to join in the revelry during the season.
The African way of celebrating the Carnival can be best experienced in Salvador, the "City of the Holy Savior of the Bay of all Saints.” The city’s residents are notorious for their partying spirit including its street Carnival. The festivities begin well in advance before Carnival week where a vibrant mood sets in over its easy going population who host a number of street parades and parties around the city. Salvador is where axè, an Afro-Brazilian beat, gets the crowds into the party mood, singing and dancing throughout the week.
One of the most colorful and entertaining sections in the parades is the Bahian drummers and spinning dancers who are definitely worth watching. The Filhos de Gandhi is another popular parade that promotes peace and brotherhood during the Carnival.
Salvador has a number of popular bands with a strong African influence. These include Olodum, Timbalada, and Psirico, which parade through the city followed by thousands of revelers. Everyone is free to join these parades as long as you purchase a T-shirt that represents the band.
The parades in Salvador are spread over three main circuits where grandstand and luxury seats or camarotes have been set up for the convenience of the public who desire a bird’s eye view of the parades.
However, many prefer to join the parade rather than watch from the sidelines. The Batatinha Circuit is mainly for parades by Afro-Brazilian religious groups while the Campo Grande Circuit and Barra-Ondina Circuit are the ones that have the wilder parades that alternate between circuits on the days of the Carnival. You can book tickets for the Carnival in Salvador, but make sure you do that as soon as possible.
The residents of Sao Paulo know how to party and when it comes to the Carnival, you can expect the highest level of entertainment that carries on non-stop for over a week. The city’s main center of celebrations is the Anhembi Sambadrome where the top samba schools parade during Carnival week.
Among the popular schools that produce some of the most electrifying entertainment during the week are Unidos do Peruche, Vai-Vai, Gavioes da Fiel, Mocidade Alegre and two afoxé groups that give the 30,000-strong audience a taste of true Afro-Brazilian culture. Vai-Vai is the oldest samba school with thousands of supporters that get the audience on their feet in matter of seconds once they enter the runway. The two major nights are Carnival Friday and Saturday where the samba schools regale the audiences with the song and dance performances and the intoxicating beats of the samba. Tickets to the Anhembi Sambadrome include private boxes that seat up to 25 people.
Sao Paolo’s street parties or blocos are just as exciting as the events at the Sambadrome. Among the most popular are Bantantã and Banda do Trem Elétrico. There are several Carnival balls held throughout the city at hotels, bars, and restaurants which include Bar Brahma and Avenida Club that host Carnival parties.
The gay-friendly city of Florianopolis is an excellent host during Carnival week with gay festivals, samba parades, and street parties the flavor of the week. The city’s 42 beaches turn into party venues throughout the week with live bands and impromptu parties attracting a number of revelers. The Florianopolis Sambadrome is where all the action is with special samba parades by the top schools including União da Ilha da Magia, Copa Lord, and Consulado entertaining the audience with their colorful performances.
There are two grandstands at the Sambadrome. However, you will need to book tickets early if you want a prime seat in the house to watch some of the best performances with live bands, innovative floats, and a bevy of sensuous samba dancers.
The Pop Gay Festival at Tancredo Neves Square draws a large crowd of members from the alternative society and straight people as well. The festival is definitely worth attending if you are in town. For some great family entertainment, Blocos dos Sujos is one of the best parades on Carnival Sunday. If Florianopolis beckons, it is time to make your reservations for the Carnival.