5 fun facts about Brazil’s Carnival

November 10, 2023

We all think we know all about the Carnival in Brazil. Images of bright colours, feathers and raucous music come to mind. 

But the Carnival actually takes place all over the world – though it is most popular in Brazil. 

Before the dancing starts, we wanted to give you some background on this infamous event: why and when it’s celebrated, and 5 fun facts about Brazil’s Carnival. 

Why is Brazil’s Carnival celebrated?

The word “Carnival” comes from the Latin – the root of Portuguese, a Romance language. 

Carnem-levamen (or levare) in Latin means “to remove the meat” – so the word “Carnival” refers to the era where followers of the Roman Catholic faith would indulge in one last day of dancing, drinking and general fun (and most probably meat!) before the start of Lent – a period of abstinence from life’s indulgences in the run-up to Easter. 

Today, this one day of indulgence has transformed into a week-long festival of revelry and fun, celebrated across the world, but most prominently in Brazil. Different cities in Brazil have their own ways of celebrating, but the most famous festivities take place in Rio De Janeiro. Masses gather at the city’s Sambodromo stadium, often wearing masks and colorful costumes, dancing to the rhythmic drumbeats of Samba music.

When is Brazil’s Carnival in 2023, and how long does it last?

Rio’s Carnival festivities – the most popular Carnival event in Brazil – is taking place between 17th to 25th February 2023, in Rio de Janeiro.

Here are 5 fun facts about Brazil’s infamous Carnival

1. Carnival in Brazil attracts quite the crowd

  • 500,000 foreign visitors attend Carnival every year
  • 2 million people take to the streets every day
  • 10 million litres of beer are consumed every year

2. Carnival is technically a farewell to meat

As we’ve mentioned, the word Carnival comes from the Latin, translating as a removal of meat.

So, really, all that dancing, drinking and fun is really just to say goodbye to steak dinners!

3. Carnival has made the Guinness Book of Records

That’s right – Rio’s Carnival is world record-breaking.

It is registered as the biggest carnival in the world in the Guiness Book of Records.

4. Carnival takes it to the streets

Carnival is celebrated either on the city streets of places like Rio and Salvador, or at the popular Samba Parade.

The parades are broadcasted live to the entire country, and there are competitions among local communities from favelas called samba schools.

Held in the Sambodromo, the schools are judged on how elaborate their floats and costumes are, as well as their dancing and music. Some schools spend over $4 million on their endeavours.

5. Carnival has a bloco for everyone

There are around 587 street parties, known as blocos, which take place in Rio de Janeiro during the Carnival period. They’re more casual affairs than the official parades, but still come complete with the Carnival costumes and wild parties you’d expect from these wild festivities. 

They’re the true heart and soul of Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival – especially because there’s truly a bloco for everyone, from family-friendly to gay-friendly. 

Looking to pick up a few Portuguese words for the Carnival?

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