The biggest parties around the world are about to kick off, because it is time for Carnival. While in some places people have been celebrating in preparation for months now, festivities begin in earnest this coming weekend and culminate on Fat Tuesday, February 12, though many continue the partying afterward, too. A number of destinations in Latin America go all-out to celebrate Carnival, with multiple generations coming out for the merrymaking. In many places, the Monday and Tuesday of Carnival also are designated as national holidays.
From Trinidad to Brazil, Carnival is the year’s most anticipated event for locals, and scores of tourists also are drawn to the destinations to celebrate alongside them. Each place has its own, history, culture and customs incorporated into the festivities, which make it one of the most interesting – not to mention fun – times to visit. Here is where to go, what to do and what to know for Carnival in Latin America. If you don’t make it this year, there always is next year!
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Simply put, Carnival in Rio is legendary. International tourists and Brazilians alike know it is the place to be to experience holiday, and celebrating Carnival in Rio is on many people’s bucket lists. The city and its residents go all out to host and organize the event at one of Brazil’s most exciting and beautiful beachside cities.
Hit the blocos
People party in and take over the streets during Carnival in Rio. While it might seem like there is no organization to the joyous chaos, the street parties (called blocos) are in fact strategized events, and hundreds taking place every Carnival season. Neighborhoods or cultural organizations put them on, and you’ll get live music, dancing, a moving party and a fun crowd, because most people use them as an excuse to congregate in one spot and party. Find a blocos schedule online (such as here), or just follow the music.
Don a costume
Halloween is not the holiday it is in the U.S. elsewhere around the world. Instead, Carnival is when many people break out their impressive, absurd and entertaining costumes. Have fun with what you wear when you head out during the day, because a lot of other people will be, too.
See the Sambadrómo shows
The biggest, most exciting events of Carnival are the Rio Carnival Samba Parades, and there really is no grander show in the world. Samba schools spend all year preparing for the events, practicing the music and moves and creating their detailed, larger-than-life floats and costumes. The combination competition-shows take place in Rio’s Sambadrómo. Grab your tickets as early as possible, because they sell out quickly.