Carnival originated from European pagan traditions. It was a food festival in the past when it was the last time to eat abundantly before the 40 days of Lent. Thus, we can affirm it is a Catholic event by origin. Brazilian Carnival is a mix between the Portuguese and the African influences. The first group brought the European Carnival Festival; the second ones contributed music and dances. In 1917, Samba became the main character of this celebration, mixing the love for the music of colonists and slaves.
The most famous Carnival in the world was attended by almost one million tourists in 2015, which it was increasing the following years. In Rio de Janeiro only, the carnival generates around BRL $2.2 billion, which three-fourths of it come from tourists. The north-east of Brazil, like Natal and Recife, is the second one which generates more money in the country. They expect 1.6 million of tourists every year, bringing in BRL $1.55 billion. Between Rio and Natal on the map, we can find Bahia state, which welcomes 700.000 tourists. The most famous city of Bahia is called Salvador, all their streets become a carnival. It is considerate the most authentic one because it preserves the tradition and spontaneity which has characterized the Brazilian carnival for decades. In the south of Brazil, there is a city called Florianopolis where there is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender center of Carnival which gets around 50.000 people. Brazil is a very liberal country with an open mind. It is not weird to find people of the same gender kissing each other on the street, or holding their hand. Everybody feels free to do what they want, without feeling judged for their sexual orientation. The full streets of people in Carnival show you all of this freedom and respect for each other.
Officially, Carnival lasts one week. However, it is not completely true because a couple of weeks earlier everybody is already preparing the celebration. Even some days before the parties start you can find some events. Further, when Carnival is finishing, there is always one day more, some people called Brazilian Carnival the endless celebration. When Carnival is over, people are just thinking about the next one. The most important event in Rio is the ¨blocos da rua¨ (streets blocks), group of people who dress with similar theme or topic. It is associated with neighborhoods. The most famous ones are in Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and Lagoa, the most touristic places in Rio. Music and dancing surround the city, such as popular Samba songs. Three- to four-year-old children dance samba alongside professional adults around the streets block, they move as natural, so easily, so magic. Everybody try to dance samba even if they have never tried in the past. Atmosphere smells happiness in every corner where you are walking or dancing. During this event you can see people of all ages, but young people are the most numerous. They never stay at home, because the party is on the street, all day, all night long. Next day they are ready to continue the party again and again.
Another important event during the main week of Carnival are the parades of the Sambódromo. It is like a huge stadium where people can see different groups and schools which show their costumes, dances, and music. It starts every day at 8 pm and ends at 5 am. It is a spectacle which you cannot miss because you will regret it if you don’t live this experience. There are several ways to get the tickets. First one, you can go in a travel-events agency previously a couple of days earlier, in this case, the price is around 60-80 euros approximately, the cheapest one seats. The second option, if you want to get cheap tickets, there is always someone around the entrance selling them much cheaper than the agency, it could cost around 20 euros. There are always some tickets left, so if you are willing to risk paying less this is the best option. However, you need to live the street carnival experience where you will see the authentic spontaneous parties.
If we want to know how young people feel about Carnival in Brazil and how they personally celebrate it, we need to ask them. Here a short interview with Marco (27) and Carlos (25), two Brazilian guys who have a different opinion about Carnival.
- How do you celebrate Carnival in Brazil?
Marco: I always go to the ¨blocos¨ of Carnival (street blocks), where you can dance, sing, jump, drink, meet people, etc.
Carlos: I really don’t link Carnival. It is totally terrible with a lot of apologies for sex and drugs. People destroy themselves. So usually, I travel with my friends to the beach or farms.
- What is your favorite event or activity during this event?
Marco: The block which takes place in Flamengo, a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro
Carlos: Travelling and enjoying the holidays with my friends.
- What do you think about all the tourists who are coming for Carnival?
Marco: They are very nice, kind and friendly. They are open to living new experiences, so I think it is great.
Carlos: Incredible. It is a great opportunity to forget the borders and meeting new cultures and traditions.
- Do you think tourists feel this celebration as locals do?
Marco: I think so.
Carlos: Yes, Brazil is a good place to include new people.
- From your opinion, which is the best place in Brazil to celebrate Carnival?
Marco: Rio de Janeiro, definitely.
Carlos: Despite I don’t like it, I believe it would be great to enjoy it in Ouro Preto (Minas Gerais) or Rio de Janeiro.
- Could you provide some advice to Europeans who would like to visit Brazil for this event (especially for your people)?
Marco: Actually, I think it I exactly what they are doing every year: they come to enjoy very openly what this event can offer them.
Carlos: Enjoy everything, but take care when you walk thought Rio de Janeiro. It can be dangerous for foreigners.
As we can see, Carnival in Brazil is an international party, accessible for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are from the favela or from the richest part of Rio. It doesn’t matter if you are foreigner or local. Everybody goes out on the streets, wear costumes, dance, sing and enjoy. But not everyone has a positive opinion about this event. It is interesting to see both points of view because any event or celebrations has a good and bad side. It can be dangerous if you are not careful on the streets, further it can be stressed for someone who doesn’t like agglomerations. Anyway, more and more tourists are planning to visit Brazil in Carnival next year to discover by themselves this famous adventure. Fun and show insured.