Carnival and festivals in rio and bahia

Carnival is the most famous Brazilian festivity and far more popular than Christmas, Easter or New Year celebrations. Only the Rio de Janeiro's New Year’s Eve rivals with Carnival. Iemanja, the African goddess that is particularly venerated by the Cariocas in the New Year’s Eve, is a great pretext for a big rehearsal of the Carnival balls and parades in that time of the year.

The Brazilian Carnival is astonishing and unique in its expression of human aspirations, hidden or dormant desires, joy, colours or music.

Image of the Brazilian Carnival in RioFor many Brazilians, Carnival is their raison d'etre – and the Carnival days are just the top of a much bigger iceberg. In Rio de Janeiro or Salvador da Bahia, the Carnival balls, the rehearsals, the processions, begin long before the four official days of parades. The carnival schools have a permanent activity, all year long, congregating millions of participants.

There are dozens of other festivities in Brazil. Brazil is a country of festivities, mainly in Salvador da Bahia, a special place, where ancient African traditions, mixed with European culture, make surprising and exotic events. 


The main parade of Carnival in Rio is at the Sambodrome, a massive concrete stadium-like structure, built along Avenida Marques de Sapucai. The parade involves more then 50.000 figurants and a selected number of top samba schools. Most of the schools, representing many districts and social clubs, aren’t present in the main Samba School Parade though.

Carnival in Rio is centred in samba schools and the selected themes for each year. The themes may be very diverse: they can be a myth, a historical or present event, a political or artistic personality, and must embrace every detail of the year’s school presentation. The lyrics, the music itself, the costumes of the figurants, the papier-mâché figures and paintings of the allegoric car, all must in accordance with the selected theme. 

Brazilian Carnival in Rio de Janeiro


The Bahian Carnival is as fervent in its expression and tradition as the Rio’s, though rather different. Essentially, the Carnival in Bahia (more precisely in Salvador da Bahia, the capital of the state of Bahia) is a musical and folkloric parade, centred in Trio Electricos – musical cars, carrying musicians and top singers. It’s the Trio Electrico that spreads the music and puts everyone in a Carnival trance.

There are dozens of Trio Electricos, each one acting in a different street circuit of Salvador, performing different musical themes, allowing people to choose the preferred music and performers. 

The sounds of the Carnival of Salvador aren’t limited to samba, as it is the case of Rio. Salvador da Bahia Carnival is more of a representation of the current musics of Brazil, and, as a rule, many of the top brazilian singers are present in it.

Brazilian Carnival in Bahia and Recife

Brazilian Carnival calendar up to 2020

2015: February 14th - February 17th
2016: February 6th - February 9th
2017: Feb 25th - Feb 28th
2018: February 10th - February 13th
2019: March 2nd - March 5th
2020: February 22nd - Feb 25th