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How much do you know about the Carnival of Brazil? How did it start? When is it celebrated? Find out in this vibrant infographic!

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Brazil's Carnival

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Río de Janeiro and Sao Paulo

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Rio´s Guinness World Record




Rio de JaneiroThe most famous in the world

Sao PauloSpectacular rhythm and colors

SalvadorRenowned and extraordinary


At the Brazilian Carnival, Samba schools, or escolas do samba, play a central role, with very elaborate dance, music, and singing ensembles that parade through the streets (in Salvador) and in "sambadromes" (in São Paulo and Rio De Janeiro).






The different carnivals of Brazil

Recife & OlindaSpontaneous and colorful

When did it start? A bit of history

What does it mean? Eymology

When is it celebrated? The dates can vary

The main events

According to government calculations, more than 62% of the total revenue of the Carnival of Brazil is generated between these 2 cities.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world's biggest carnival celebration is that of Rio de Janeiro, with over 2 million attendees. Other internationally famous carnivals are those in Barranquilla in Colombia, Oruro in Bolivia, Venice in Italy, Veracruz and Mazatlan in Mexico, and Cadiz and Tenerife in Spain.

This city spends all year preparing for Carnival and the samba schools often take over entire neighborhoods. Millions of tourists flock to Rio de Janeiro each year to feel the rhythm of the drums, at parties that last all night long.

Here the main attraction is what's known as the trio electrico, a truck that's been kitted out with huge speakers and a stage on which famous bands perform local tunes such as maracatú. The trucks are accompanied by dancing fans and supporters.

Some of the largest carnivals in the country happen here. In Recife there are huge parties in the street, including the Galo da Madrugada, which often sees more than 2 million people gather at the official opening of the carnival.

Latin America's biggest city is home to over a hundred samba schools, which make up one of the most incredible parades in all of Brazil. Each year more and more visitors are drawn to this party.

Traditional Brazilian Carnival music consists of:

  • Samba (in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro)
  • Axé (in Salvador)
  • Frevo (in Recife and Olinda)

The Greeks celebrated many festivals of this kind in honor of the God of wine. The Romans continued this tradition in honor of Baco and during Saturnalia, when men would spend an entire day in a drunken state, and according to the tradition, masters and soldiers swapped clothes. The Roman Catholic Church later adopted these celebrations in the lead-up to Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Christian Calendar. The first Italian carnivals consisted of masked dances with a large emphasis on costumes. The tradition soon spread to other European countries, such as Portugal, where the Brazilian Carnival was born. The Portuguese brought many slaves from Africa, which is why the carnival has a strong African influence. The Africans used masks and costumes made from feathers, bones, leaves, stones, and other elements to invoke the gods and banish evil spirits. All of these details had a symbolic meaning in the tradition of this region and now form an integral part of the design of the costumes for the modern-day Carnival of Rio. "Entrudo" is the name of a Portuguese festival which also accounts for the part of the origins of the Rio Carnival. The first Rio Carnival was held in 1840 and the participants danced polkas and waltzes rather than samba, which wasn't introduced until 1917.

The current popular explanation for the term carnaval in Portuguese is that it comes from the Latin carne-vale, which means 'goodbye to meat' making a clear reference to Lent when Roman Catholics traditionally abstained from the consumption of meat. The idea was to have a lavish celebration before the imminent prohibition and in honor of King Momo, the monarch of the carnival.

The dates of the Carnival vary each year (between February and March) depending on when Easter falls, as it is held 40 days before Holy Thursday. This year, 2022, it will begin on February 13th. The Tuesday of Carnival, the last day before Ash Wednesday, will be March 1st.