By Sibel Tinar, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Pumpkins carved as Jack-o’-lanterns, spiderwebs, ghosts, skeletons, and witches on a broom adorn the windows and gardens of houses in the United States in the days leading up to October 31st each year, and this Halloween spirit has been spreading in Brazil like wildfire, regardless of the fact that the run-off round of elections will be held that very day.

The Jack-o'-lantern, made by carving a pumpkin, is one of the major symbols of Halloween around the world, photo by Jeff Kramer/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Primarily an Irish tradition, popularized by the mass celebrations and parades in North America, Halloween’s appeal owing to its carnival-like vibe, costumes, and the plethora of candy, has led many other countries to adopt this holiday, and Brazil, where the day is known as “Dia das Bruxas” (Witches’ Day), is certainly no exception.

Even though in Brazil the anticipation for Halloween does not show in the streets in the form of pumpkins and symbolic figures as in the U.S., there is no shortage of celebrations being planned for the Halloween weekend. An occasion in which people leave their own personas at home, and let their inner cat, witch or vampire come out is familiar ground for Brazilians, whose Carnival allows them an escape from their everyday selves.

Rio de Janeiro, the fun-loving city that would never pass up an opportunity to celebrate and have a party, offers countless options both for children and adults for Halloween; however the majority of Brazilian Halloween parties do not necessarily stick to the October 31st date, as small parties are being held around town since the beginning of the month.

Shenanigan’s, the widely popular Irish bar in Ipanema will host a promising Halloween party on Friday, October 29th, including two-for-one drink specials, food promos, a best costume prize, and a drinking competition that also comes with prizes. The entrance fee of R$15 will be waived for those who show up in full costume.

“We will be decorating the place, and playing special Halloween themed music with several horror flicks playing on the big screen all night”, says Michael Taylor, the co-owner of the pub, also mentioning that there will be a live show by the band Arizona.

The American Society of Rio de Janeiro (AmSoc Rio), a non-profit association that assumes the mission of celebrating American traditions, is organizing a big Halloween party that is open to both members and non-members on Saturday night, October 30th.

Elaborate costumes and make-up are integral parts of Halloween celebrations, photo by Sibel Tinar.

“Gremlins and goblins and witches on brooms, you are invited to party under the moon” is how AmSoc Rio greets the prospective participants. Taking place at a private home in Gávea, the party will start at 9PM, and offer food, drinks, music, and dancing all night, in addition to a best costume contest and door prizes.

The tickets for the party are R$45 for members, R$76 for non-members, and since it promises to be one of the best parties in town, the available spots are quickly running out. AmSoc Rio strongly advises anyone interested in the party to contact them in order to secure their spots in the party.

Another party that promises to be a blast is the Ipanema restaurant Blue Agave’s Halloween festa on Sunday, October 31st, beginning at 7PM. The American-owned popular Mexican restaurant is encouraging everyone to come fully dressed in costumes, and will award R$200 to the customer with the best costume.

“We will have drink and food specials, possibly some witch’s brew. And at midnight there will be a viewing of Dark Side of the RainbowWizard of Oz synched up to the audio from (the Pink Floyd album) Dark Side of the Moon“, informs us Richard Nelson, the co-owner of Blue Agave, raising curiosity about the party even more.

There is no doubt that it will be tough to make it to all the parties, or choose among the options, but one thing is for sure – this weekend is the time to wear a costume, hit the streets, and celebrate a North American tradition Carioca style.


  1. Years ago, when I lived in São Paulo, about this time of year one would see signs proclaiming “halloween é o caralho! viva o feriado nacional!” Always seemed strange to me, because Halloween and costumes should be right up the alley of people who love street carnaval, but in those days the left was still rabidly against anything American.


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