While Carnaval is the most famous and well-known festival, there are many more throughout the year and throughout the country that are just as incredible to experience–some are even more spectacular than Carnaval. Whether a festa is religious or historical in nature, one thing you can count on is it’ll be a heck of a party.
Most of us at Moon have an ever-growing list of places we want to visit, a common side effect of working on travel books. This list reflects a few of the destinations that inspired our wanderlust in the last year. There are trip-of-a-lifetime–type destinations, and there are smaller destinations, but all of them triggered that classic reverie, imagining what it would be like to be there, feeling that pull.
When I was asked to contribute an article to accompany the recently launched 4th edition of Moon Brazil, my editor suggested an update of sorts to a piece I published four years ago upon the release of the 3rd edition. As I reread the former post, the refrain of Changes, David Bowie’s existential hit of 1971, popped up and began unspooling in my mind.
Brazilians’ fame for merrymaking is not an exaggeration. Carnaval is a spectacular example, but the year is filled with fantastic events–and many of them are quite different from Carnaval. Here’s what to expect from each celebration along with when and where they’re held.
Salvador has all the prerequisite ingredients for a good party: an idyllic climate, a powerful musical and cultural heritage, the mix of Catholic and Candomblé, and a population that loves to take to the streets and celebrate. The following are a sampling of the most important and unique festivals.
The Río Yavarí is in an unspoiled, isolated part of the Amazon basin and is home to two excellent private natural reserves where you will be immersed in the jungle through all manner of activities. Spend at least three days or up to a week at one of the Yavarí nature reserves (they are both excellent) to gain a real appreciation for jungle life.
In Rio the beach is a fundamental part of life, and the locals abide by various cultural habits and codes. If you want to blend in, check out this list of dos and don’ts from Brazil expert Michael Sommers.
While Rio’s vibe is quite gay friendly, few specifically gay venues exist. GLS (a Brazilian slang term for gay, lesbica, e simpatisante; i.e., gay friendly) spaces rule, with gays, lesbians, and heteros mixing socially. Here are the hot spots to check out.
Three weeks is probably the minimum amount of time required to get a quick sampling of some of Brazil’s most noteworthy attractions, landscapes, and cultures. Considering the country’s sheer size and diversity, and the distances and travel time involved, this itinerary is very selective. After all, the goal is to enjoy your time, not to exhaust yourself, and many of Brazil’s destinations involve some sort of relaxation.