By Fiona Hurrell, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As many households throughout the world prepare for Halloween, a selection of restaurants and bars in Rio are also getting ready to celebrate the spooky festivities. Since the unofficial holiday falls on a Wednesday (October 31st) this year, it means a full weekend of fun beforehand with costume parties catered to adults and children alike.
When compared to the U.S. and UK, the Halloween celebrations in Brazil are noticeably fewer. However with a growing number of expatriates settling in the city of Rio, and Cariocas developing more international tastes, the amount of parties and events have steadily increased.
To start the weekend, the Gringo Café in Ipanema has planned a costume party for the adults on Friday, October 26th with happy hour promotions from 7-9PM and themed drinks including Blood Thirsty Mary’s, Sinister Sangria and Witches Sour.
American expatriate and owner Sam Flowers explains “The child in me loves an excuse to over indulge on ‘treats’ and as an adult I miss the fun of dressing up and for one night living a bit of a fantasy. We have Carnival here where some people do dress up, but it isn’t the same feeling as Halloween.”
Also on Friday, there are Halloween parties at the Blue Agave, Mexican bar and restaurants, with two locations in both Ipanema and Copacabana. American expatriate, and co-owner Richard Nelson reveals, “We are having parties at both bars [on] Saturday and costumes are strongly encouraged because we will honor the most creative with prizes. We have witches brew promotions and absolutely no entrance fee.”
On Sunday, October 28th from 2-6PM, it’s the children’s turn to dress up, and for the second year the Gringo Café is transformed into a Halloween workshop where kids can create spooky cupcakes, frightening cookies and creepy candy apples as well as a number of terrifying decorations for the home. Both adults and children are advised to dress up for the events since the spookiest costume will win a prize.
Expatriate Anna Whyte, who sits on the board of both the InC (International Club Rio) and The American Society of Rio de Janeiro (AmSoc Rio) explains that Halloween is an important and fun celebration, especially for families with young children.
“I think both kids and adults enjoy Halloween, but by far the greatest fun is with the kids as they all love picking a costume, trick or treat, and accumulating tons of candy.”
Despite this, Whyte also understands that for some families Brazil’s lack of attention to Halloween can somewhat limit the extent of the celebration, adding “Personally I love trick or treat with the kids, but that’s not possible in Brazil as nobody here knows the tradition of going door-to-door and giving candy to the kids.”
All the more reason to bring the family to the Gringo Café event on Sunday, and for Flowers it is also a chance to involve Brazilian residents in this American tradition, “[Halloween] really is alive and growing throughout the world, spreading from the U.S. and UK to other places so I feel like it’s important to help share the tradition here and get Brazilians excited about celebrating it too.”
On the actual holiday – Wednesday, October 31st – Shenanigan’s in Ipanema will host a Halloween costume party with some special drink promotions, details of which will be released on their website nearer the time. The popular bar was recently sold and taken over by new Brazilian owners, although it remains clear that the fun atmosphere will continue on unchanged.
Anyone wishing to dress up for Halloween but is unsure of where to buy a costume can find a wealth of inventive options for both children and adults at shops in the SAARA market in Centro. There are also several specialty costume shops, such as Clube de Fantasia in Copacabana, Imaginearte in Barra da Tijuca, and Atelie Mundo da Fantasia in Tijuca.