Salvador Carnival 2020
Welcome to the biggest party in the world!
Where: Salvador, Brazil
Dates: Feb. 20 - Feb. 26
Attendance: 4 million
2020 Theme: Not Yet Announced
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 2020?
"The Carnival of all Carnivals!"
While certainly true, Salvador's carnival is the "carnival of all carnivals", this year's Carnival 2020 theme kind of feels like something the city government threw together at the last minute. The extremely late release of this carnival theme and the near impossibiity of finding an image for this site related to this Carnival's theme, seems to support that theory. But, no worries, it is not an annual carnival theme that makes this party, but rather the Bahian povo (people) and their Brazlian compatriots. And as you'll soon see for yourself, they always succeed in making Salvador's carnival the "Carnival of all Carnivals"!
So how does this all work?
This Carnival the party kicks off a day ahead of schedule on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 at 7pm 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 around 7pm on Wednesday, 2/19/20, Carnival will get underway at the lighthouse in Barra. The action in Barra on Wednesday night is old school fanfarra; an uncommercialzed carnival, a mixture of brass bands and independent trios.
So you got to Salvador early and don't want to wait until Wednesday to start your carnival party. Carnival's got ya! Leo Santana, the city's reigning pagode pop star, is taking his Bloco, Pipoco do Gigante on a free run down the Barra/Ondina Carnival Circuit. This event starts at 6pm at the lighthouse in Barra.
And, just in case you are coming even early, while it's not officially carnival, there are big party events in Barra on Saturday 2/15/20 (Fuzuê) and Sunday 2/16/20 (Furdunço). So for all practical purposes, this makes 10 nights of party.
Other highlights worth making note of this Carnival 2020 are some free events, Blocos sem Cordas ("Blocos without ropes"), including;
Bell Marques (X-Singer of Chiclete com Banana) Barra/Ondina on Thursday 2/20
Pagode star Igor Kannario, on Friday night 2/21 & Monday, 2/24 in Barra/Ondina (Warning: Rough and Tumble event!)
Brazilian Electronic standout, DJ Alok on Saturday night 2/22 in Barra/Ondina
Ivete Sangalo, Tuesday, 2/25, Campo Grande/Centro
Pagode Star Leo Santana will close Carnival with a final run on Wednesday morning, 2/26 starting at 10am at the lighthouse in Barra.
The official opening ceremony will kick off at 5:30pm, Thursday, February 28th, 2019 at the lighthouse in Barra
The Abertura de Carnaval "(the opening of Carnival") gets started at the lighthouse in Barra at 5:30pm on Wednesday afternoon. This carnaval 2020, Carlinhos Brown and his troupe of Timbaleiro drummers will host the official opening of the ceremonies. Then, for the next seven days, until Wednesday at noon (February 26), the city belongs to the Rei Momo (Carnival King) 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 (not yet announced) 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 10am to make one last trip out to Ondina. This is a free event without the bloco restrictions. This Carnival 2020, Pagode star Leo Santana will lead the trio with many other stars sure to join the fray.
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!