Festivals

Brazilians love a party and the mixing of different ethnic groups has resulted in some particularly colourful and varied celebrations. The difficulties of daily life are often relieved by the fantasy and release of Carnaval as well as the many other popular festivals held throughout the year. Wherever you go you will find street vendors selling ice-cold beer and the smell of
churrasco
coming from improvised barbecues accompanied by loud vibrant music and dancing in the streets.

Carnaval

Almost all Brazilian towns have some form of Carnaval festivities. Although the most famous is Rio de Janeiro, there are equally spectacular and different traditions in Bahia and Pernambuco, as well as a number of other good locations for those who wish only to party. The colonial mining towns of Diamantina and Ouro Preto in the interior of Minas Gerais are good locations to spend Carnaval in atmospheric surroundings. Florianópolis and Laguna on the coast of Santa Catarina have less traditional but still very popular and lively carnivals.

Out of season carnivals

Street carnivals with
trios eléctricos
in the style of Bahia are held throughout Brazil at various times of the year. Some of the most popular are
Micareta
in Feira de Santana (April),
Fortal
in Fortaleza (July) and
Carnatal
in Natal (December). Although by no means traditional they are nonetheless exuberant and enjoyable.

Other popular festivities

There are several other festivals which are almost as important to Brazilians as Carnaval.
Reveillon
(New Year's Eve) is a significant event and is generally celebrated on beaches. This can be either a hedonistic party as at Copacabana and Arraial D'Ajuda with the revellers dressed in white for luck, or as a respectful
candomblé
ceremony in which flowers are launched into the sea at midnight as an offering to Yemanjá.

The
Fiestas Juninhas
(São João) are extremely popular especially in the northeast and are held around 24 June (St John's day). Fires are built and
forró
is the music of choice with the festivities lasting for over a week at times. Fireworks and the co-ordinated dancing of groups called
quadrilhas
are also part of the celebrations.

In the north, the African and Indian cultures have mixed to form the Boi-Bumba tradition. In Amazonas, the
Festa do Boi
has become more commercialized but is still very impressive and popular. In Maranhão, where it is known as
Bumba-Meu-Boi
, the festivities are more traditional but equally as popular.

There are many Catholic saints' days that are sometimes celebrated in conjunction with African deities (especially in Bahia). Every town has a patron saint and his or her day will be an excuse for civic festivities, in addition to those of the foundation day of the town.

Immigrants from Europe to the south of Brazil and elsewhere have brought festivals from their own cultures such as the Oktoberfest
 held in Blumenau, believed to be second only to Munich.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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