Carnaval Guide
Carnaval Guide

2006 Officially
Pólo 16 centers
Recife Carnaval
Gay Balls
Recife Antigo
Giant Dolls bonecos
Carnaval Cities
Vitória de Santo Antão
DJ Spincycle
City Guide
Check out our extensive list of hotels & hostels here
Recife Antigo, the old town in Recife, reminds many of New Orleans French Quarter with its non-stop party atmosphere and dozens of clubs with live music and dancing. The outdoor bars are an especially nice place to  listen to the music and enjoy the people of Recife, who love to party. Download

The Old Town was the administrative center of the city during colonial times, and after that became quite abandoned until the 1990s. From then on, a revitalization program turned it into a showcase of the city's cultural history, frequented by both locals and tourists. Its main area is along Bom Jesus St, where  some of the best bars, nightclubs and shops are located.

Olinda's festive atmosphere can be found year round, but besides the peak season of Carnaval, the City pays special homage to the cycles of Lent, the traditional celebrations during the month of June, and Christmas season.
Goiana for
Caboclinho Canaval!
 The city is the proud home to more than 10 groups of caboclinhos. It is also a center of the Boi-bumbo bull.


Known for the irreverent masked papangus. This masking tradition began in 1905.  The masked ones went to houses asking for money, but, as the majority of the population was poor, the fools had to content themselves  with eggs, fruits, beiju, hen and cachaça. When finished, they were rebaptized as papangus. There is also ten days of parades by Afro-Brazilian drumming blocos.  One event find the inhabitants of Bezerros out at 3AM with followers wearing pajamas, nightgowns and petty coats. On Carnival Sunday there is the great “papangu” contest, which will appoint the winners of different categories of masked participants. To join Carnival in Bezerros you must wear a mask.

Nearby is the Ecological Reserve of the Black Mountain range. There are many hand-made crafts for sale including masks and toys.

How to Get There: BR-232
Distância da Capital: 114 Km

Luiz Gonzaga sculpture, by Caxiado
The Capital do Forró is also South America's capital for ceramic figurine art. Caruaru is the biggest and most important cities in Pernambuco's countryside. As of 2000, Caruaru had a population of 253,634 inhabitants. It is 135 km from Recife
Vitória de Santo Antão,
Over 100 rival "clubs" vie for attention, dressed in their respective colours (the biggest clash is between O Camelo and O Leão, dressed in red and green, and yellow and blue, respectively).
Triunfo,  some 451 km inland from Recife. Their most famous Carnival festivity is named Os Caretas, which started over 50 years ago. everyone carries and slaps a harmless whip, travelling from house to house, eating and drinking. During the celebrations, participants fight a “battle” in which the winner is the one who produces the loudest slap.
Nazaré, The capital of Maracatus.
11 maracatus, as well as many cavalos marinhos (coco and forré bands)
wiki/Nazare da_Mata
Recife Carnaval
In Recife the main events are concentrated in Santo Antônio and Boa Vista. At night, activities centre around the grandstands on Avenida Dantas Barreto, where the blocos parade for the judges.
The other central area to head for is the Pátio de São Pedro. During the day the blocos follow a route of sorts: beginning in the Praça Manuel Pinheiro, and then via Rua do Hospício, Avenida Conde de Boa Vista, Avenida Guararapes, Praça da República and Avenida Dantas Barreto to Pátio de São Pedro. The day is the best time to see the blocos – when the crowds are smaller and there are far more children around. 
Recife Antigo has become a safer way to do Recife Carnaval at night, which should not be done alone.
Gay Balls
Baille dos Artistas: Ball of the Artists (2 weeks before Carnival Friday)
One of the most famous Gay Carnival Balls of Brazil is the Baille dos Artistas, the first of three Carnaval balls that attracts a lot of TV media and a lot of strait trendy locals as well. 
Baille Masque (Ball of the Masks): [2 weeks before Carnaval Saturday]
Baille Municipal: [Saturday before Carnaval Saturday]
The Baille Municipal is the biggest carnival ball of Recife. TV companies also enjoy showing the extravagant costumes worn by the fabulous participants .

Recife and Olinda have long been Carnival hot spots for Brazilians from all over the country to let loose and really party. In Recife, there are music stages 98BRZ039.jpg downtown and spread out through the city. In Olinda, the partying takes place in the colorful, house-lined, sloping streets of the city. At night the streets of Olinda are filled with music and the color of the many blocos, while Recife's old town, or Recife Antigo, is the first choice for many trying to escape the hotel Carnaval scene of Boa Viagem for something more authentic. Before long you too will “fall into step” with the Pernambuco Carnaval euphoria: one that is like no other in the world.

Participation is for everyone and there is little of the high-priced status sought by spectators vying for the best seats. Everyone is seriously into a having a good time by participating. Whether it's the belly-bumping bate-coxa or the umbrella-wielding frevo, the regal maracatú or the extremely agile caboclinho, the dancing is as impressive as anywhere in Brazil.

In Recife, the Carnival festivities begin in December, when locals begin preparing for the official Carnival, which starts the week before Ash Wednesday. The pre-Carnival parties usually consist of percussion groups practicing in local clubs, city streets and squares, and even Carnival balls. There are a variety of rhythms, from native Indian and African Maracatu beats to Frevo and samba. The Recife Carnival's most famous tradition takes place early Saturday morning, when the Galo da Madrugada host a party in downtown Recife, attracting as many as 1.5 million costumed partiers to toast the crack of dawn.

Over 2 million people jam into the downtown streets to be part of what is perhaps Brazil's most massive gathering of bodies for Carnival. Livening up the scene are 30 plus trio electricos and numerous foliões (parading bands), as the four kilometers of streets around the central area are filled with the high energy sounds of frevo.

Recife-Olinda Carnival is the best value for Carnaval  in Brazil. Its pre-Carnaval festivities begin early enough that you can also enjoy Carnaval in Rio Salvador. If you book late, you can often find rooms here when Salvador and Rio are sold out.

Official Carnaval || Translated by google -- Official City Carnaval Site ||Search this site for CARNAVAL by google

2006 Carnaval News
For 2006, the Recife City hall sponsors 16 centers of Carnaval animation, or Pólo regions.

Carnaval Friday: The official opening of the party will happen in the evening of Carnaval Friday. There will be a great show starring the Pernambucano percussionist Naná Vasconcelos at the front of 500 batuqueiros representing the 11 nations of maracatu. The City's symphonic band, a youth chorus, will also play the rhythms that have come to mean party in Pernambuco. A spectacle of fireworks and a series of shows by local bands round out the program.

Carnaval Saturday: the programming continues, with the presentation of the Spok Frevo Orchestra in front of City hall on Guararapes Avenue - the point of concentration for the Rooster of the Dawn. Untilrooster.JPG  Ash Wednesday, hundreds of schools of samba will parade through the streets of the city, along with afoxés, caboclinhos, orchestras of frevo and maracatus. A highlight of Carnaval in Recife is always Carnaval Saturday morning, when the traditional parade in honor of the Rooster of the Dawn, [Galo da Madrugada] takes place. It's the event that no one wants to miss, which means you can expect the area to be packed with over 1.5 million revelers enjoying the streets around the central offices of Recife.

The public also will be able to attend shows by artists such as Lenine, Alceu Valença, Silvério Pessoa, Pedro Luís e a Parede, Beth Carvalho, Otto, Dona Ivone Lara and Lula Queiroga, among others. Each one of the Carnaval centers will be dedicated to a specific subject. Landmark Zero has been designated the multicultural Pólo region, although it will also focus on the traditional Pernambuco carnival art forms with presentations by caboclinhos, frevo blocos and maracatus.

The Pólo region Fen, located at the Customs Wharf, will mix live bands with parades of Brazilian fashion set to the sound of DJs. Here you can also find the MangueTown Tent, where both national and foreign rock and pop bands will be playing.

The carnival climate, however, is already in the streets well before the big five days begin. Starting with the December Christmas and Revéillon (New Year), Recife City Hall programs presentations of typical folguedos, maracatus, caboclinhos and afoxés. Boa Viagem, the hotel-lined beach front, has regular entertainment programming, with a growing reputation for one of the best New Year celebrations in Brazil. In 2006, the Multicultural Carnival of  Recife pays homage to the  writer Ariano Suassunaand singer Claudionor Germano.

Pólo Carnaval Centers

Pólo Recife Multicultural - Marco Zero
Pólo das Fantasias - Praça do Arsenal
Pólo Mangue - Cais da Alfândega
Pólo de Todos os Frevos - Avenida Guararapes
Pólo de Todos os Ritmos - Pátio de São Pedro
Pólo Afro - Pátio do Terço
Pólo das Agremiações - Av. Dantas Barreto
Pólo das Tradições - Pátio de Santa Cruz
Pólo Descentralizados - Santo Amaro, Chão de Estrelas, Casa Amarela, Nova Descoberta, Alto José do Pinho, Várzea, Ibura e Jardim São Paulo

Olinda Carnaval

Olinda means "oh beautiful"


carnaval_de_olinda by
You can expect 2 million participants for 6 days of party, beginning Carnaval Friday and going until Ash Wednesday. There will be hundreds of groups performing, ten sets of shows 98BRZ017.jpg running more than 12 hours/day with a packed program of music and dance performances, all set against the beauty of Olinda and organized for the comfort and security of its participants. The old city is covered with decorations: ribbons, streamers and colored lanterns are hung everywhere, banners are prominent throughout the streets and coloured lighting is set up in all the squares

Unlike Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, in Olinda you don't pay for the best places to sit. All the party is in the streets. There are no "bleachers" or security guards enforcing a rope zone around the dancers; there are musical groups everywhere: sometimes just one person and other times hundreds in many different styles, ages and costumes.

Sunday before Carnaval Sunday:
Carnaval in Olinda actually gets going the Sunday before the official start, when the Virgens do Bairro Novo, a traditional bloco several hundred strong, parades down the seafront road followed by crowds that regularly top 200,000. 

The area of town around the Pousada dos Quatro Cantos is one of the liveliest during Carnaval. The most famous blocos, with mass followings, are Pitombeira and Elefantes; also try catching the daytime performances of travestis, transvestite groups, which have the most imaginative costumes.


"A few days before Carnival the food and drinks stands began to set up and the first blocos began their practice runs. Each bloco has its own character and music and they tend to stick to the same basic formula as they snake through the streets. Some focus on a strong brass section blowing out tunes to shake your stuff to. Others concentrate on the rhythm with thirty drummers and percussionists in perfect synchrony - the head drummer may well be walking backwards on stilts." ..............“Adieu.” With a laugh she disappeared into the night.
---by RJ's Gringo Guides

The narrow streets and large crowds can be a bit intimidating. In 2003, officials had to issue strong threats of reprisals for a tradition which threatened the good humor of the affair. Apparently, many guys were insisting on kisses as tolls to let woman pass past them.

Compare notes with others on the taxi ride and ask the price before you commit yourself. Better yet, figure out the frequent bus schedule between Olinda & Boa Viagem early and save significant sums of cash.

Beyond the giant dolls, more than 500 registered clubs officially cheer up the city during the reign of King Momo. There's so many it's hopeless to keep track of the afoxés, schools of samba, caboclinhos, maracatus, but together they make a fair claim that the Carnival of Olinda is one of the world's greatest celebrations. There is something very special about Olinda Carnaval. If you lose yourself in its spell you can most effortlessly experience  the mysterious magic of a rare feeling of complete enchantment outside of everyday time.
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Traditionally, caboclinhos make their presentations in Recife, Olinda, Nazaré da Mata, Carpina, Tracunhaém, Camaragibe, São Lourenço, Paudalho and in the states of Alagoas, Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte. The traditional characters from the tribes of the caboclinho are: the king (cacique), the queen (cacica), the captain, the lieutenant, the guide, the fore-guide, the perós or indiozinhos (the name given originally to the natives by the colonizers), the flag bearers, the caboclinhos (masculine), the caboclinhas (feminine), the witch doctor, the hunting caboclinhos, the princesses and the healer.

The orchestra is made up of the following instruments: pipes (made of a kind of bamboo called taquara), caracaxás (a kind of rattle or maraca) and drums. Katarina Real describes the sound that is given off by the pipes (gaita) as
98BRZ012.jpg follows : "...the melodies, scales and tones contain an oriental exoticism - they are truly impressive - Hindu, Chinese, North American Native, Inca, none of which is at all European".

Concerning the musical elements, Roberto Benjamin informs that "...they were extracted from native ritual cults, which have survived semi-secretly, despite the persecutions that the magic-religious manifestations have suffered". Always wearing loin clothes and feathered headdresses (of emu, ostrich and peacock), the caboclinhos also wear a number of other decorations - bracelets, feathered arm bands (caboclos), necklaces made of beads and seeds, small calabashes on the waists, large arrows (for the girls), the above mentioned 'preacas' - the bow and arrow. The musicologist Guerra Peixe, comparing the caboclinhos with many other folkloric manifestations, concludes that, "The presentations of the caboclinhos is the most original of the Recife carnival".


The head float bears the figure of an animal, followed closely by a float carrying the king and queen, and the dama de passo, a doll that brings cheers from all members of the crowd, and the tirador de loas, who faces the crowd and chants in African dialect.

Maracatu is a term common to two distinct performance genres found in Pernambuco state in northeastern Brazil: maracatu nação and maracatu rural

Maracatu nação (also known as maracatu de baque virado) is an Afro-Brazilian performance genre. The term, often shortened simply to nação ("nation", pl. nações), refers not only to the performance, but to the performing groups themselves.

Maracatu nação’s origins lie in the investiture ceremonies of the Reis do Congo (Kings of Congo), who were slaves that occupied l98BRZ022.jpgeadership roles within the slave community. When slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888, the institution of the Kings of Congo ceased to exist. Nonetheless, nações continued to choose symbolic leaders and evoke coronation ceremonies for those leaders. Although a maracatu performance is secular, traditional nações are grouped around candomblé (Afro-Brazilian religion) terreiros (bases), and the principles of candomblé infuse their activities.

Traditional nações perform by parading with a drumming group of 80-100, a singer and chorus, and a coterie of dancers and stock characters including the king and queen. Dancers and stock characters dress and behave to imitate the Portuguese royal court of the Baroque period. The performance also enacts ancient African traditions, like parading the calunga, a doll (representing tribal deities) that's kept throughout the year in a special place and that the women carry along during the cortege.

The musical ensemble consists of alfaia (a large wooden rope-tuned drum), gonguê (a metal cowbell), tarol (a shallow snare drum), caixa-de-guerra (another type of snare drum), abê (a gourd shaker enveloped in beads), and mineiro (a metal cylindrical shaker). Song form is call and response between a solo singer and a female chorus.

Today there are around 20 nações operating in the cities of Recife and Olinda. Although one or two have an unbroken line of activity going back to the 1800’s, most have been set up in recent decades. Each year they perform during the Carnival period in Recife and Olinda. Maracatu Nação Pernambuco, while not a traditional maracatu, was primarily responsible for introducing the genre to overseas audiences in the 1990s.98BRZ001.jpg

Maracatu rural is also known as maracatu de baque solto, maracatu de orquestra, and maracatu de trombone. It is rooted in the Pernambucan interior and evolved in the early 20th century as a fusion of pre-existing forms of Carnival revelry. It is considered to be Afro-indigenous in origin. Its members, typically sugarcane workers, are involved with the native-influenced catimbó religion. Maracatu rural has a high participation rate with dozens of groups operating all over the state.


totalrhythm.comSan Francisco Carnavalesco Bobby Wallace adds to Jim Sowers report above:
"I was with Jimbo and Recife Carnaval 2005 was fantastic, dare I say my favorite carnaval of all time?!"


CARNAVAL in the State of Pernambuco eNCOmpasses a myriad of traditions & Rhythms. :
Maracatus, Frevos,  Troças and Caboclinhos,
as well as
Afoxés, Sambas, ciranda, coco, samba, rock, reggae and manguebeat.

Frevo is a wide range of musical styles originating from Recife, Brazil, all of which are traditionally associated with carnaval.

The word "frevo" is said to come from "frever", a working class dialectal way of pronouncing the word "ferver" (to boil).
Frevo dancers, called passistas, usually wear bright, shiny, multi-coloured costumes and carry small umbrellas. The dancing itself features very high jumps. The image of the passista is one of the most prominent icons of the carnaval of Pernambuco.
The movement appeared in the town of Recife, in the early 90s, when bands like Chico Science & Nação Zumbi (CSZN) and Mundo Livre S.A. (Free World Co.) began inserting the newest pop elements available (rap, electronica and neo-psychedelic brit rock) into traditional folk styles from Pernambuco (maracatu, coco, ciranda, etc.). Originally named Mangue Bit (as in bits and bytes), the movement produced and issued the manifesto Caranguejos com Cérebros (Crabs with Brains), written by former punk Fred 04 (leader of mundo livre) and local journalist Renato L. in 1992. "Icon image: a satellite dish sticking out of the mud. Or a crab re-mixing Kraftwerk' Anthena in the computer", they said.

The name comes from the mangrove tree ecosystem which dominates the coast of Pernambuco. The founders of the manguebeat movement were proud of their origins and used the mangue to symbolize the rythm; mangroves are the natural habitat of crabs, hence the frequent reference to them among the manguebeat groups.

Olinda Carnival Music (mp3s) at Managing Director Peter Bauer
DJ Spincycle returned with this report from the 2005 Recife Carnaval

"Both Olinda and Recife have non-stop Carnaval activity, but the best ticket is really to spend the days in Olinda parading around with the scores of frevo and maracatu Blocos, and then heading to Recife Antigo (old Recife) at night for a wide variety of FREE shows.

Let me just list a few reasons why this old Carnavalesco thinks that the Recife Caranval is one of the best:

* It's participatory  -- virtually everyone is doing something: dancing in the streets, playing an instrument or dressing up in a costume from stilts to baby diapers.* It's musical! I'm not just talking about the groups performing; I'm talking about many many small groups with less than 50 people with drums, percussion, trumpets, trombones (I'm partial to this one, as I played trombone back in the day) and tubas! And these guys (and gals) are not riding on trucks; they are walking amongst throngs of people in narrow streets blasting away.* It's egalitarian -- a real mix of races and genders, performing as muscians and dancers. Not some, but MOST of the groups I saw had as many or more women than men on all the instruments (except the brass). There was an all-women local band playing great frevo and maracatu.*It's local. Few foreigners, or the ones that are there are hard to pick out. There are tourists, but mostly Brazilians from other parts of the country.

*The people! My experience with Brazilians has almost always been positive. But in Pernambuco, the state where Recife is located, they are especially nice. I attribute this to the fact that they have their own rich culture: music, dance and a great Carnaval, but they are overlooked for their better known siblings of Rio and Bahia. Thus, they are that much more excited that a foreigner has opted to spend Carnaval with them.

Brazil Cracks Down On Child Prostitution for Carnaval by on 5FEB05

Seeking to crack down on an epidemic of child prostitution,In Rio, two girls rest before going to work. Both are rec...  the Brazilian government is targeting Carnival, the annual pre-Lenten festival during which the illicit trade reaches its zenith.

The Winds of Delight:
"Recife Antigo seemed kind of like the French Quarter in New Orleans. They were playing MPB with an emphasis on locals....We all danced. It seemed like minutes, but turned into hours. I learned that a proper Carnavalista stops every 15 or 20 minutes to have a beverage or a snack from the street vendors. The object is to pace one's self, in order to keep up with the frenzy. One doesn't slam down a dozen brews and act crazy, like in New Orleans." -- Author Darrell Westmoreland was delighted about not running into a single Americano for his entire 2 weeks at Recife Olinda Carnaval, after booking an ocean view room in Boa Viagem when he learned that Salvador Carnival rooms were sold out in November.
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GIANT DOLLS [bonecos]: The giant papier-mâché figures of folk heroes or  caricatures of public icons is an old Olinda Carnaval tradition. The giant dolls are frequent companions to the foliões [parading bands], and are dragged around to the sound of frevo.  The dolls can measure three meters in height. Set against the streets and slopes of the High City they add much drama to the many processions. The most famous giant character is Midnight Man, who has been marking the zero hour of Saturday since 1932. In 1967, he was introduced to the Woman of the Day.
 The Rooster of the Dawn
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Recife most famous Carnaval tradition begins Saturday Morning at dawn with
Rooster of the Dawn (GALO DA MADRUGADA). The Rooster of the Dawn is one of Recife's great Carnival traditions, beginning at dawn or 5:30 am on Carnaval Saturday with bugle calls, and heralding the beginning of the pernambucano carnival in bairro de São José. It began in 1979 as an effort to revive the traditions and spirit of street Carnaval by a new frevo club and has entered the record book as the biggest tablet (theme float) in the world.

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