If you’ve ever considered a trip to Brazil or taking one of the available Brazil tours, it’s very likely Carnival could be on your itinerary.
For example, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro draws millions each year.
Carnival is an annual, country-wide celebration in Brazil that’s one of the most exciting events in the world for locals and travelers. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience if you are planning to travel to Brazil during Carnival, but you also need to be safe and careful and plan ahead.
Officially known as the Carnival of Brazil, the event occurs between the Friday before Ash Wednesday, and Ash Wednesday at noon, which is when Lent begins. Lent is the Christian 40-day period before Easter.
Carnival is the most famous holiday celebrated in Brazil, and the celebrations go on day and night.This is especially true in the cities along the coast.
You should plan to book your airfare and if possible, your hotel anywhere from six months to a year in advance due to the popularity of Carnival in Brazil. You should also expect to pay anywhere from two to three times higher prices to book a hotel than you would at any other time of year.
It would be challenging and costly to try and book a trip to Carnival without a lot of planning ahead of time.
Where to Go
Celebrations occur throughout the country for Carnival, but some places are better than others in terms of being a tourist destination. In the South, you’ll likely want to go to Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador if you’re going north.
In Rio de Janeiro, much of the action occurs at the Sambadrome, which can fit 90,000 people. This is where the things you might most associate with Carnival, such as the elaborate costumes and decorations can be spotted.
Tickets to Sambadrome can be costly, but there are street parades throughout Rio that are free. There are also suburban areas like Ipanema and Copacabana where you can enjoy the festivities.
The smaller events are called blocos.
If you want to go to Carnival, try to get to Brazil a few days before it starts because otherwise, it can be overwhelming. Also, a lot of the shops and attractions are closed during this time, so if you want to visit certain places or stock up on anything, it’s best to do it before the start of the event.
Salvador’s Carnival is different from the one in Rio. It’s more influenced by Afro beats, for example.
Take Care of Yourself
If you’re going to Carnival, you can expect huge crowds, all day and night partying and an environment that can take its toll on your health. To make the most of your experience, stay as healthy as you can. Drink plenty of water, and try to eat as much healthy food as you can like fresh fruits and juices.
The sun is also extremely intense, so wear plenty of sunscreens. It’s not uncommon for temperatures to go up to 90 degrees before lunch since the event is in February, which is summer in Brazil.
You can participate in the street carnival, known as the Carnaval da Rua. There are different ways to do this. For example, you might meet with a bloco at a certain time and then join the parade, or you should just join in with the crowd.
Expect to see it all in terms of how people are dressed, and there are primarily costumes. Typically, the more skin, the better, at least from a local perspective.
Finally, as you might imagine, Carnival is extremely chaotic, and that can lead to some issues. There is a heavy police presence during the event, particularly in the big cities, but you still need to exercise caution.
If you get lost from the people you’re with, you should have pre-planned meeting spots where you’ll all go to reconvene.
Female travelers should be careful about walking alone as well because Carnival can be used as an excuse to behave in a sexually aggressive way, unfortunately. Never accept an open can from anyone, including a street vendor. Be aware that it’s possible to walk through urination on the streets as well because of limited bathrooms, although it’s not technically permitted.
If you do experience something that makes you nervous, try not to panic and start running because in huge crowds that can be dangerous. Try to remain calm, and walk away from any rowdy or risky situations quickly but without running.