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Brazil festivals

Salvador Brazil photo of local people

Brazil has many festivals going on throughout the year, ranging from religious festivals to the world-famous Carnival. The religious and traditional festivals are a great way to experience the real Brazil, and here you will find people of all ages taking part in the festivities. However, if you are in the mood for some dancing and music then you can head to one of the music-based festivals or street parties and practise your samba moves to the sounds of the drum.

Brazil Rio carnival dancers
Brazil Rio carnival dancers

Carnival (Carnaval) – February or March

The most famous and the biggest, Carnival draws more than two million spectators every year. The party is at its biggest in Rio, there are also celebrations in Salvador and Olinda. See the parades of samba schools descend on the streets, hear the beat of the drums and witness the colourful costumes. The streets are transformed into a party of a lifetime, one you’ll never forget! Just bear in mind, hotels get booked up months in advance, so book early.

Semana Santa – April or May

Semana Santa is one of the most traditional and ancient festivals in Brazil. In Ouro Preto it is celebrated the week before Easter (Holy Week). Semana Santa dates back to the 8th century, with many colourful processions, orchestras and beautifully decorated streets that are covered with carpet made of flower petals. As this is a religious festival, you will also find re-enactments of the Resurrection of Christ.

Brazil Ouro Preto Flowers Santa Semana Festival
Brazil street party carnival

Festa de Iemanjá – 2nd February

This festival takes place every year on the 2nd February and honours Iemanjá (the goddess of the sea). Iemanjá is often represented as a mermaid with long hair which blows in the wind. If you head down to the beach you will witness Brazilians making offerings to the sea (flowers, jewellery, perfume). Boats are launched into the surf in the hope that Iemanjá will give good luck for the coming year. It wouldn’t be a Brazilian festival if it didn’t end in dancing, so head out in the evening and enjoy the many lively street parties.