Salvador Carnival 2019 festival in

Salvador Carnival

The Best Carnival in Brazil?

Salvador Carnival 2018

Rio's Carnival is much the more famous, but those in the know will gently suggest that the best Carnival in Brazil is actually up in the north-east, at the huge street party that is the Salvador Carnival.

In contrast to the spectacular formal parades which are everyone's image of the Rio Carnival, Carnival in Salvador is a much more democratic affair which focuses on an enormous street party. 2018's Salvador Carnival will feature six different parade routes through the city but instead of elaborate costumes and massed ranks of drummers, you have lines of blocos or carnival groups which each have their own trio electrico (soundsystems mounted on articulated lorries) which snake their way through the streets, each accompanied by their 'abadas' or dancers. You can actually become an 'abada' by the simple act of buying the right tabard the day before, or like most people just stay as a 'pipoca' (popcorn!) and take your place in the crowded streets to dance the night away.

Because there's no Sambadrome/Street party split, you can just choose the bloco you want to follow, or try a different one every night. In general we recommend trying a different route every night so that you can see more of the city. It also means that there are no pricey Carnival tickets to buy, which makes Salvador Carnival a much more affordable proposition than Rio.

Carnival in Salvador also differs to Carnival in Rio in that the focus is not just solely on samba styles. Instead it features many Bahian styles of music such as Axé, the term given to artists from Salvador that make music based on north-eastern Brazilian, Caribbean and African rhythms with a pop-rock twist. Salvador Carnival also much more obviously celebrates its black history. In the 1880s the Bahian black population celebrated carnival by dancing and playing instruments in the street, this was looked down on by the ruling white elite. However, the black population defied the ban and the spirit of this lives on in Bahian carnival groups such as the Afoxês, who take inspiration from the African religion Candomblé.

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