Carnival, Rio de Janeiro
On a par with Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Rio is now one of the biggest celebrations in the world. It also takes place at the same time of year beginning on the Saturday before Shrove Tuesday. The festival itself is so crazy and full of so many things to do and see you are quite likely to feel slightly overwhelmed, and there is no better feeling. The highlight of Carnival is the traditional Brazilian dance, the samba and the parades of dancers are full of more colour and rhythm than you can possibly imagine. If you are planning a trip to Brazil, this is probably one of the best and worst times you could possibly travel. The best for sheer enjoyment, the worst for travel and accommodation so book early and enjoy.
Parintins Folk Festival
Taking place on June 28th, 29th and 30th every year and attracting over forty thousand people from all over the world, this is a unique festival taking place on the banks of the Amazon. Comprising traditional music, dance and folklore, the main theme of the festival is the mystical ‘Boi Bumba’, a battle between two groups representing the legendary bulls, Caprichoso and Garantido. While the costumes and floats are not unlike those seen in Rio’s Carnival, the atmosphere and the festivities are much milder. Beginning at the harbour, three and a half thousand boats bring tourists from the rest of the country to take place in one of Brazil’s greatest folk festivals. If you are in Brazil around this time, it is certainly well worth making the trip to Parintins to take place in this fascinating event.
Bahia Carnival, Salvador
This one takes place between the 23rd and the 28th of February and is probably the second largest of Brazil’s festivals. Bahia or Salvador (the city goes by both names) is the African centre of South America and the carnival celebrates all things African in the region. The festival is a flurry of sights and sounds where you will hear the best Afro-Brazilian music the country has to offer as well as getting to see every traditional form of dance ever created. There are also numerous parades unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It is an unusual five days but one you are guaranteed to enjoy thoroughly once you are there.
Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo
Motor racing in a Brazil has a long history with the first race taking place back in 1908 built in Sao Paulo. So, to catch a Grand Prix during your stay in the country should certainly be regarded as an added bonus. While the drivers themselves might not appreciate the Sao Paulo, the spectators love it. The whole region becomes caught up in the hype that the race brings with it making the city a really exciting place to stay on a Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend. The track itself is only about ten miles outside the city centre too so making your way there shouldn’t pose any major problems.
While motor racing may prove popular in Brazil there really is no other form of entertainment which can compare to the first love of all natives – futebol. This passion can be seen all over the country in the number of football stadiums which are scattered throughout, even in the smallest towns the grounds are huge. In fact the Marcana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro is the largest in the world with a capacity of two hundred thousand. Winners of the World Cup in 1958, 1962, 1970 and in 1994, and home to the greatest player of all time, Pele, football in Brazil is the game at its most powerful so make sure you catch at least one game while you are there.