Salvador Carnival 2017
Welcome to the biggest party in the world!
Where: Salvador, Brazil
Date: Feb. 23 - March 1
Attendance: 4 million
2017 Theme: City of Music!
You are about to reach soaring heights and hit energy levels never imagined. Get ready for blast off. Carnival in Salvador NEVER fails to amaze. I promise!
But before we get started with the beer drinking, girl/guy grabbing, samba dancing, and sleep depriving, let's begin with some Carnival culture.
Every Carnival has a theme. So what's the theme for 2017?
"City of Music!"
This Carnival 2017, Salvador will celebrate it's recent UNESCO designation as "The City of Music", in UNESCO'S Creative Cities Network
So how does this all work?
This Carnival the party kicks off two days ahead of schedule on Tuesday, February 21th, 2016 at 6pm in Barra
Carnival in Salvador has traditionally 'officially started' on a Thursday. Carnival, however, isn't so easily accounted for. It seems the merrymakers have always been one-step ahead of the organizers! In recent years, in a spontaneous manifestation of the Carnival spirit, small independent blocos have begun taking to the streets of Barra on Wednesday night, adding yet another night of festa to the festa!
The city's carnival committee has finally caught up and recently they have "sanctioned" this independent action so that now Wednesday night is also a part of carnival. Starting at 7pm on Wednesday, 2/3/16, Carnival will get underway at the lighthouse in Barra.
So, now that Wednesday night has been added, why not add Tuesday as well! Yep, for the first time, this Carnival, Tuesday night, 2/21/17, is going to join the party. Timbalada, the beloved creation of Carlinhos Brown, will get things started at 6pm where they will make a "reverse" run from Morro do Gato (near Club Espanhol about half way between Barra and Ondina) to the Lighthouse in Barra. This event will be "pipoca", a free run by the trio without chords. A stage will be set up at the Lighthouse in Barra where the party will continue. Following the arrival of Timbalada, there will be a battle of Dj's, and then big name attractions, Saulo (& special guest), and Leo Santana will perform sets.
And, just in case you are coming early, while it's not officially carnival, there are big party events in Barra on Saturday 2/18/17 (Fuzuê) and Sunday 2/19/17 (Furdunço). So for all practical purposes, this makes 10 nights of party (with one night off, Monday, 2/20/17).
The traditional opening ceremony will kick off Wednesday, February 22th, 2017 at the city's main square in Campo Grande
Carnival "traditionally" starts with an opening ceremony where the city's mayor will hand over the keys to the city to the Rei Momo, the Carnival King: the happiest, fattest guy in the city. The ceremony will be take place day on Wednesday Feb. 22 at the city's main square in Campo Grande. This event will culminate with the official crowning of the "Fat Guy". Then, for the next seven days, until Wednesday at noon (March 1tst), the city belongs to Rei Momo and his four million revelers.
So that's how it starts. And how does it end? Well, some seven nights, four million carnival revelers, 100,000 musical participants, 800,000 visitors later, Carnival begins it's slow descent from unparalleled highs on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning when the last bloco, Amanhecer, led by Tomate, an Axé artist with a rock attitude, begins its midnight run.
Well, sort of comes to an end, that is. It takes time to put out a fire burning this brightly, so on Ash Wednesday morning, there is one last hurrah, the "arrastao" (dragnet) as it's called. Carnival crowds gather at the lighthouse in Barra around 9am to make one last trip out to Ondina. This is a free event without the bloco restrictions. It's traditionally led by Carlinhos Brown and often joined by Carnival's biggest names, the likes of Ivete Sangalo and Daniela Mercury, etc.
And then finally, almost sadly, sometime Wednesday afternoon, the last ember of sound dies leaving a city burned in its Carnival wake. Apparently, it's time to get back to work, so at 2pm on Wednesday afternoon, the banks re-open. It's officially time for business. Ahhhh, not me. How about another beer? I'm heading to the beach!
How can you participate in the Carnival?
There are three ways to brincar (play) the carnival;
1) Bloco/Trio electrico: Join a carnival bloco and follow its trio elétrico down the carnival circuit. To join a bloco, you buy an abadá (shirt).
2) Camarote: Watch the blocos and their accompanying trio elétricos from the comforts of a camarote, an enormous club-like structure which lines the carnival circuit. The camarote functions as both a viewing box and a party within the party, complete with DJ's, live bands, bars, food, etc. To get into a camarote, you need to buy an abadá (shirt).
3) Pipoca: Hit the streets as pipoca (popcorn) as it is called here in Brazil. There are literally over a million people in the streets on the busiest carnival nights. Most of them crowd the carnival circuits waiting to catch a glimpse of the passing blocos and their trio elétricos. No cost involved here. You don't need to spend a cent to enjoy carnival this way, but don't forget your lifejacket or you might drown in a sea of humanity. You've never experienced crowds like this before anywhere, EVER!!!!
And now some final words from your Carnival Guide:
• Pace yourself. As you'll soon realize, Carnival is a marathon, not a sprint.
• Don't give up. Even when you don't think you can take another step, keep moving. What you can't do for yourself, Carnival will do for you!
• See as much of the carnival as you can. There are 16 miles/25 kilometers of Carnival circuit waiting for you. And don't forget, there are three circuits to visit, Barra/Onina, Campo Grande/Centro, and Pelourinho/Historic Center, and each of them have great things to offer.
Ok, so you've got your caipiroska in hand, your Arrebite (liquid guarana) in pocket, and your abadá custom fit. There, you're ready. On your mark, get set, DANCE!