World famous for its colourful carnivals and fabulous parties, Brazil is already preparing for the celebrations of 2016. Visitors to this diverse and fascinating country can expect flamboyant outfits bedecked with glitter and sequins, extravagant make up and endless parades of beautifully crafted floats. With carnivals taking place all over the country it can be difficult to choose where to go, so here we have created a quick guide to five of the best;

Festival Smile

1. Rio Carnival

The most famous carnival in the world attracts millions of visitors every year from all 4 corners of the globe.

Carnival Costumes

The streets fill with the sound of drums as samba schools all over the city prepare to take part in the Sambadrome Parade – an astounding performance of exotic dance, music and creativity. Beaches are packed with revellers and hundreds of street parties, known as ‘blocos’, take place from dusk until dawn. Glitzy, glamourous and unashamedly outrageous, this event should be on every travellers bucket list.

Carnival Float

When? Celebrations begin 40 days before Easter.

How to get there: fly direct into Rio de Janeiro; a taxi takes around 1 hour to get into the city.

2. Olinda & Recife Carnival

Known as the ‘Carnival of Participation’, this raucous party sees the locals take to the streets in their finest celebration outfits and samba the night away.

Olinda Carnival

Huge papier-mâché puppets seem to ‘dance’ through the crowd to the beat of drums – the imposing ‘Rooster of the Dawn’ symbolises the beginning of the festivities. Over 1 million people will enjoy the revelry over 6 days and 6 nights and the atmosphere is electric.

Recife Masks

When? Festivities begin as early as December, but the main parties and parades are in the final days running up to lent.

How to get there: fly direct to Recife, optional short 20 minute taxi journey to get to Olinda.

3. Parintins Folklore Festival

Situated in the heart of the Amazon, ‘Boi Bumba’ celebrates the unique culture of the people who live in this fascinating environment through ancient stories, myths and legends.


Throughout the celebrations storytellers, impressive floats and bewitching costumes fill the streets, many of which boast replicas of the colourful wildlife and tribes that live in the rainforest. This is the only carnival that doesn’t take place in respect of Easter, and it attracts huge crowds. Due to it’s unique jungle location, this carnival presents a chance to try some fantastic local foods as street vendors are packed along the streets selling their finest dishes.

Carnival Ox

When? Last weekend of June. If you are unable to make the February carnivals, this is the best choice for you as it is the only carnival to take place outside of the regular dates.

How to get there: you can take a short 1 hour flight from Manaus, but many people would rather enjoy a scenic 2 day boat journey along the river to reach this waterside city.

4. Sao Paulo Gay Pride

Widely known as the biggest and most extravagant gay pride parade in the world, the event attracts an astonishing 5 million people to the streets of Sao Paulo.

Carnival Street

Ornate outfits and dazzling make up are on display for all to see, and visitors to this spectacular parade can expect rainbow colours, friendly revellers and a once in a lifetime experience by joining in with this impressive show of unity.

Carnival Makeup

When? Usually in early June

How to get there: fly to Sao Paulo and take a 30 minute taxi ride into the city.

5. Oktoberfest in Blumenau

Well known in Europe, this beer centered celebration began when German immigrants living in Blumenau, Brazil decided to host their own version of this popular festival.


Now the event attracts almost 1 million people who come to feast on traditional German cuisine whilst drinking merrily from large steins of beer. Other highlights include a drinking competition where participants race against the clock to finish a ‘yard of ale’, and the crowning of the most beautiful ‘Oktoberfest Princess’.


When? The festival runs for 3 weeks during October.

How to get there: fly to Navegantes and then take a 30 minute taxi ride into town.


Simon Williams is Director of The Bespoke Travel Group.

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Tags : BrazilEventsFood and DrinkGay & Lesbian TravelRegionsSouth AmericaSpeciality Travel

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