Brazilians’ fame for merrymaking is not an exaggeration. Carnaval is a spectacular example, but the year is filled with fantastic events.

Réveillon in Trancoso. Photo © Robert Miguel (Own work)

Réveillon in Trancoso. Photo © Robert Miguel (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

  • Réveillon: Fireworks, cheap champagne, and revelers clad in white wade into the sea with flowers for the Afro-Brazilian sea goddess, Iemanjá. The biggest bash is in Rio (Jan. 1).
  • Lavagem do Bonfim: Bahianas lead a procession through Salvador’s Cidade Baixa for the ritual washing of the steps of the Igreja do Bonfim with perfume (second Thurs. in Jan.).
  • Carnaval: Five days of throbbing music and unbridled hedonism. The biggest festivities are in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife, and Olinda (Feb.-Mar.).
  • Cavalhadas: A haunting re-creation of a medieval battle between Christians and Moors is dramatized in the colonial town of Pirenópolis in Goiás (May).
  • Parada de Orgulho GLBT: Avenida Paulista shuts down for São Paulo’s exuberant Gay Pride Parade (May).
  • Festas Juninas: In the northeastern Sertão, June is devoted to bonfires, forró dancing, drinking fruit liqueurs, and eating delicacies made from corn in celebration of Santo Antônio, São João, and São Pedro. One of the biggest events is the Festa de São João in Caruaru, Pernambuco (mid-late June).
  • Bumba-Meu-Boi: In São Luís, Maranhão, splendid costumes, pounding drums, and whirling dancers characterize this popular festa (end of June).
  • Círio de Nazaré: The highlight of the Amazon’s most important religious festival is the procession of Pará’s patron saint, Nossa Senhora de Nazaré, through the streets of Belém (second weekend of Oct.).

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Brazil.