Places to Celebrate Carnival in Brazil

The Carnival of Brazil, locally called Carnaval do Brasil or simply, the Carnaval, is a major, highly charged event in the country that is popular worldwide. It is the most important holiday season in the country. Celebrations begin before Ash Wednesday at noon and typically last for six days thereafter.

The “Carnavales Brazil” is celebrated in various parts of the country, but the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the most well-known. It consists of dancing and singing performed by professionals who practice year-round for the event. The general public comes to watch the spectacular performances, and in some regions, they are also allowed to participate in the celebrations.

An In-Depth Look at the Carnival History in Brazil

The Carnival had an entirely different, violent theme the first time it began in 1723. People used to flock on the streets and throw various worthless items at each other, like mud and expired food. However, it often led to serious, devastating riots that ended the festival on a bitter note. However, as the core nature of the Carnival became more and more popular, the festivities kept evolving until they became more organized in the early 19th century.


The local festivities were led by professionally coordinated parades spearheaded by the Emperor himself so that the people would enjoy the event in a more responsible manner. The more elite groups were brought into the mix, which opened doors for masquerade balls and waltzes. It marked the beginning of the costume craze in the Carnival that remains popular to this day.

However, the carnivals of Brazil weren’t always a reason to party. For instance, during the military dictatorship, the Carnival became a part of the cultural movement that opposed political oppression. As you might know, the music of the festival usually consists of several variations of samba. But did you know that the energetic dance and musical genre wasn’t introduced in the festivities till 1917?

Today, the famous samba parade is what the people come to admire at the Carnival. The very first samba school for the purpose was founded in 1928, and since then, many professional training centers have cropped up throughout Brazil.

Best Places to Celebrate Carnival in Brazil

The Carnival is celebrated throughout Brazil and in a number of other parts of the world as well. However, it doesn’t mean that you can simply visit any remote town and have the best carnival experience of your life. While the village carnivals, indeed, have their very own charm, it is the cities that bring the essence of the festival to light.

Rio de Janeiro

The event in Rio de Janeiro is the best and grandest amongst all the carnival cities in Brazil. Statistically, it is the biggest, most popular carnival on the planet. Millions of people, including hundreds of thousands of tourists, flock to the streets every single day during Carnaval do Rio de Janeiro. No wonder it is called O maior show da Terra (the biggest show on Earth).

rio de janeiro carnival

Since 1984, the major performances have been ticketed events conducted in the Sambadrome. It is a special tier-seated stadium, not unlike a soccer stadium but with a wide, horizontal alley separating the seats for the performers.

You can also attend several balls on the beach, but the one at the Copacabana Palace is wildly in demand. If you are one of those unfortunate many who haven’t been able to secure places at either the main events or the balls, then don’t be disheartened. The fun continues on the streets of Rio, with dancing and singing and food and drinks aplenty!

Salvador (Bahia)

If you cannot manage to get to Rio in time for the Carnival, then try your best to reach the one in Salvador. You will get a taste of Afro-Brazilian heritage like nowhere else. The Bahians celebrate the festival with a passionate vigor, vastly different from the organized parades in Rio. However, they also have well-managed, elite sets of carnivals that are equally enjoyable.

carnival in salvador

The carnival in Salvador has its very own name for the festivities – O Maior Carnaval do Mundo (the biggest carnival in the world). And it does, indeed, live up to its name. Be sure to visit the Campo Grande and the Pelourinho fests for some of the finest parades in Brazil. It is said that more than half the people attending the Salvador carnival are tourists, which contributes greatly to the local economy.


If you are in Brazil only to party during the festive season, then you can never go wrong with the regions of Recife and Olinda in Pernambuco. The Guinness Book of World Records has even rated it the biggest street party destination in the world! The events are almost as grand as those in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, and the best part is, they can be freely attended by anyone.

São Paulo

When it comes to the Carnival, one of the most famous tourist destinations of Brazil, São Paulo, cannot be left behind. Ironically, it is one of the city’s less touristy regions that host the best carnival – Sao Luiz do Paraitinga. Its population is somewhere around 10,000, but hundreds of thousands of people turn up for the Carnival festivities every year.

Where is the Best Carnival in Brazil?

The best Carnival, without a doubt, has to be in Rio de Janeiro. After all, it is widely considered that the very first carnival was held in the city way back in 1723. Since then, Rio has managed to produce some of the most spectacular shows that the world has to offer.

carnival in rio de janeiro

If you are looking for something more local and native to Brazil, then you should visit the carnival in Manaus, Amazonas. It happens bang in the thick of the Amazon rainforest, which makes it more exotic. The parade there is even bigger and grander than that in Rio, with a capacity of 100,000 people. Know that you need to book the tickets well in advance. If you can’t manage to book a seat, then you can always have a great time at their street parties.

What are the Economic Benefits of the Carnival in Brazil?

The Brazilian Carnival has had a huge impact on the country’s economy. Did you know that the tourism sectors have managed to generate billions during each Carnival for the past few years? The local employment opportunities are also boosted during the festive season, leading to over 25,000 temporary jobs each year.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the festivities hard. It was the first time in over a century that the Brazilian Carnival was canceled in 2021 due to the rapid spread of coronavirus. Even the 2022 Carnival is slated to be canceled, thanks to the continued mutation of the pandemic. 

The very first cancellation occurred in the year 1912, with the death of the then Brazilian Minister of External Relations, Baron of Rio Branco. However, the people still partied on the streets back then. The passion of the Brazilians for the Carnival burned so bright that they continued the festivities throughout two World Wars, and despite the bans during the military dictatorship of the ‘60s through the early ‘80s.