Most people have their own conception about what Carnival is. Is it a religious celebration originating in Europe and transported to Latin America? Is it an African tradition of ceremonial healing and spiritual cleansing passed on thru the importation of slaves? Or is it just a big party beginning the Saturday before lent each year? Actually, it’s a little of each and all of the above. Carnival is celebrated throughout most of Latin America, some parts of Europe and the U.S.A. In New Orleans it’s Mardi Gras. But it’s Brazil, most notably Rio de Janeiro which carries the torch as the international standard bearer of Carnivals.
Each year after months of preparation, foreign guests by the hundreds of thousands, travel to Rio (and some relatively near-by sister cities)to enjoy and often times participate in a contagious frolicking of dance, song, costumes, parties and parades. Highlighting the festivities is the samba parades along the Sambodrome. Hundreds of members of each of the dozens of samba schools with-in the city have gloriously adorned themselves and their floats with sequined, skimpily clad costumes and masks. Regal proportions of plumage, glitter, foils, beads, shells and exotic fabrics combine to form a reflection of the annual theme. Competition is highly spirited between the schools as judges are strategically placed along the route of travel spurring the performers to secure highly coveted bragging rights for their neighborhoods.
Eclipsing the gaiety and festive commemoration lies the heart and soul of this festival. An intrinsic pathway to self expression, a personification of ones perseverance to overcome life’s darker sides, a revival, revalidation and recognition of our ancestors and forefathers, a spirit to strive for world understanding, acceptance and applause for our differences. A renewable meta physical art form cloaked in anonymity and disguise.
And while Rio is a great place for Carnival it’s not the only place. Salvador, the “Happy” city with its deeply entrenched African roots typically starts the party early and extends it beyond the traditional time frames. Visitors are encouraged to join the celebratory singing in the streets and dancing to ‘Axe’ music played by bands in trucks called “trios electricos”. Up and down the coast cities such as Recife, Forteleza, and Sao Luis each carry out their own twists of revelry. The largest city in Brazil, Sao Paulo, is now spending millions each year to extol its citizenry and visitors to engage in the annual affair on a level with its more notorious neighbor Rio. They’ve even built their own ‘Sambodromo’.
Carnival in Brazil is truly a spectacle. Witnessing it first hand serves up entitlement to extreme good fortune and blesses you with rewards of rich and fulfilling memories. It is not however a spur of the moment trip. Accommodations should be booked well in advance and provisions for transportation and documentation details worked out. Our sponsors have packages geared specifically for Carnival and can assist you on your way and back to one of the most exciting and memorable times imaginable!