By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Officially happening from February 9th to February 14th this year, Carnival is considered the hottest season in Brazil, mainly in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. However, cities like Ouro Preto, in Minas, and Manaus, in Amazonas, can be great places to have a different – and as pleasant – Carnival experience.
Little known fact among many foreigners, Ouro Preto, in Minas Gerais, has one of the most traditional Carnival celebrations in Brazil. The city’s colonial architecture and countryside atmosphere really takes one back to the nineteenth century, when “Zé Pereira dos Lacaios”, Brazil’s oldest Carnival bloco, was founded (in 1867).
Besides Zé Pereira, other blocos in Ouro Preto worth to check out are “O Balanço da Cobra”, playful group founded in 1975, which parades in the neighborhood of Pilar; “Bloco da Barra”, in which men dress up as women (and women as men); and “Bandalheira Folclórica Ouro-pretana”, whose impressive energy has been attracting crowds for 40 years.
Known as a college town, Ouro Preto’s Carnival is also organized by its diverse sororities and fraternities. “Bloco do Caixão”, “Bloco da Praia”, “Bloco Cabrobró” and “Bloco Chapado” are some of the students’ blocos one must check once in Ouro Preto. Additionally, the city also has a samba school championship, which takes place at Praça Tiradentes, Ouro Preto’s main square.
Those who only associate Manaus to the Amazon Forest will get really surprised by the city’s vibrant carnival. Strongly influenced by Indigenous folkloric cultures, Manaus’ carnival is the most traditional in Brazil’s North.
The greatest landmark of Manaus’ Carnival is the Boi-Bumbá party (also called “Carnaboi”), aimed at celebrating the “boi”, traditional cultural expression from the region, and its “toadas” (Boi’s typical music). The “Carnaboi” will happen on Monday, February 12th and gather 18 different attractions.
Celebrated since the beginning of the twentieth century, Manaus’ carnival also includes street blocos, like the famous Banda dos Jangadeiros. In total, a hundred official blocos and bands will parade during Manaus’ carnival this year.
Another great destination for those into a very traditional Carnival party is Olinda, in Pernambuco (Brazil’s Northeast). For visitors willing to experience regional culture in a hearty atmosphere, Olinda, approximately 9 kilometers away from Recife, Pernambuco’s capital, is certainly the place to be.
In Olinda’s over 500 Carnival blocos, one can enjoy Pernambuco’s diverse music genres, including caboclinho, maracatu, coco, afoxé, and the famous frevo (danced with a small umbrella). Part of Olinda’s carnival are also its “bonecos gigantes”, the giant puppies representing iconic personalities, from former Portuguese King Dom Pedro I to Nelson Mandela.
This year, Olinda’s carnival will include 230 shows, 300 orchestras and 1,500 blocos. Among Olinda’s best blocos, one cannot miss “Eu Acho É Pouco”, “Enquanto Isso na Sala da Justiça” and “Bloco da Saudade”.
What’s more, Florianópolis, in Santa Catarina (Brazil’s South), can be the perfect destination for those interested in a more chilled Carnival party. Way less busy than the Southeast and Northeast festivities, Florianópolis’ Carnival also promotes plenty of streets blocos from February 9th to February 14th.
The party already starts on February 2nd, when traditional bloco “Berbigão do Boca” will perform and choose its queen for Carnival 2018 at Largo da Alfândega, in Centro, at 11AM. Those spending Carnival in this city should check the blocos “Enterro da Tristeza”, “Quero Parar, Mas Não Consigo”, “Engenho de Dentro”, “Baiacu de Alguém” and “Avante”.
Finally, São Paulo also concentrates an impressive number of blocos and a respected samba schools’ championship, almost as big as Rio’s. This year, São Paulo will offer an eventful agenda for all tastes and ages, including over 100 blocos that will parade in diverse parts of the city.
Blocos like “MinhoQueens”, “Desculpe Qualquer Coisa”, “Nêga Fulô e o Palhaço Bebum”, “Beleza Rara”, “Sereianos” and “Academicos do Baico Augusta” are worth to experience. Samba schools from São Paulo’s Grupo Especial will parade on February 9th and 10th at the Anhembi Sambódromo.
Correction: The original version of the article has been changed to update the date of “Carnaboi”, in Manaus, which happens on Monday, February 12th (instead of Tuesday). Additionally, the information about groups Garantido and Caprichoso was deleted, since they perform at “Festival de Parintins”, in Parintins (Amazonas), which happens in June (and not during Carnival).