Getting to Know Brazil's Less Famous Carnival Destinations & Festivities

From by Lena Katz
Getting to Know Brazil's Less Famous Carnival Destinations & Festivities

With the Summer Olympics taking place in Brazil in 2016 and The World Cup having occurred in 2014, the country has been one of the top travel destinations in the world recently. And of course, there's always Rio de Janiero’s Carnival festivities each February. While you may know about the Rio parade, there are other cities that throw equally massive events, in even more epically gorgeous beach settings such as Bahia and Recife. You may not be able to pronounce their names, but don’t worry, you’re still invited to the party.

carnival SalvadorPhoto Courtesy of Brazilian Tourism Office


Musical and tropical, the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia is kind of like Brazil’s version of Negril, Jamaica. Gorgeous coastline, heavy African influences, and everything operates on tropical time. The capital city, Salvador, has an annual Carnival that rivals Rio’s, as far as Brazilians are concerned.

carnivalPhoto Courtesy of Brazilian Tourism Office

The Salvador parade is spicy and steamy Afro-Brazilian style, with Yoruba chanters, percussion groups and huge blocks of partiers dancing their way down the streets. The most famous block is the all-male “Filhos de Gandhy,” meaning Sons of Gandhi. They don’t drink alcohol, but they do have lots of groupies.

carnivalPhoto Courtesy of Hélio Viana/WikiMedia Commons


Recife in the northeast is one of three cities that will host first-round US soccer matches this World Cup, and the city is gearing up to unveil its new stadium—and perennially fun-loving lifestyle—to an international audience. It is also the city that hosts the largest Carnival parade.

Galo da MadrugadaPhoto Courtesy of Brazilian Tourism Office

Recife has its own distinctive Carnival symbol: the enormous “Galo da Madrugada” (Rooster of Dawn.) Two million revelers follow this festive and folkloric Big Bird down Forte das Cinco Pontas to the harbor during the traditional Saturday morning parade while dancing to Frevo, Recife’s regional Carnival music (Never confuse Frevo with samba around a native Brazilian.)

carnivalPhoto Courtesy of Brazilian Tourism Office

São Paulo

Similar to Rio, São Paulo has a competition between the city’s top samba schools that is held in Anhembi Sambadrome. People from the community participate in costume and float creations for the face-off. The parade attracts around 30,000 spectators each year.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio is one of the most popular destinations for Carnival festivities. Move over, Miley, Brazil was booty-shaking way before twerking came around. Plus, the girls there do it better in feathers and sequined thongs.