By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Easily the second most famous Carnival celebration in Brazil (behind Rio) is in Salvador, the capital of the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia and the largest city on the northeast coast. This year the event expects to draw 770,000 tourists, and bring R$1.7 billion into the city’s economy.
The estimates were announced last Friday (January 12th) by the mayor Antônio Carlos Magalhães Neto. “The numbers in the hotel sector point to 25 percent higher occupancy than the 2017 Carnival. Being conservative, we should have a bed occupancy of over ninety percent,” the mayor announced at a press conference.
According to the city’s government, of the 770,000 tourists expected to attend, 400,000 should come from the interior of Bahia state, 300,000 from other states, primarily from Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Pernambuco, Sergipe and Minas Gerais, and 70,000 from other countries, mainly Argentina, France, Chile, Germany and Uruguay.
These numbers are up considerably from 2013, when the Salvador tourism department estimated 500,000 visitors during the six days of Carnival. Last year during the seven days of the celebration, the government estimated that approximately 750,000 tourists visited the city, of which 100,000 were foreigners.
According to a government news report, visitors usually spend seven days in the city during the Carnival, according to studies by the city. During this period, the national tourists spend about R$4,915, while the Bahians usually spend about R$1,700, and foreigners, R$3,500.
The 2018 Carnival program for Salvador will start on February 3rd with performances around the city, but the official opening of Carnival with Claudia Leitte and Pitbull and Furdunço will be in Barra on February 8th. From February 9th to the 13th the traditional programming of the blocos throughout the city’s neighborhoods.
For those that have not been, the celebrations in Salvador usually start around 5PM each afternoon and run until 5AM and later the next day. Multiple performers and bands parade along the streets on Trios Eletricos, large flatbed trucks with massive sound systems.
During the parades, revelers who pay for a pass which is a piece of cloth that sometimes resembles a t-shirt known as an “Abada” gain access to a roped off section. There they are protected by bodyguards during the parade.
The prices vary depending on the day and the Trio. Followers who do not purchase an Abada remain outside and are known as pipoca.
Whether attendees are behind the ropes with their Abada or they are part of the “pipoca”, the Salvador Carnival always offers amazing energy and celebration to remember.