Salvador Carnival 2019
Welcome to the biggest party in the world!
Where: Salvador, Brazil
Date: Feb. 28 - March 5
Attendance: 4 million
2019 Theme: The World Chose Salvador!
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 2019?
"The World Chose Salvador!"
This Carnival 2019 theme plays up the fact that Salvador was chosen by both the New York Times as one of their 52 Places to vist in 2019 and National Geographic as one of their 28 destinations of 2019. Fake news, you say? Not when you're talking Carnival! I bet Mr. Orange Hair himself would make the carnival pilgrimage if he ever saw these Bahian girls sambando!
So how does this all work?
This Carnival the party kicks off a day ahead of schedule on Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 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 at 7pm on Wednesday, 2/27/19, Carnival will get underway at the lighthouse in Barra. While most of the action in Barra on Wednesday night can be enjoyed free, a mixture of brass bands and independent trios, this carnival, Leo Santana, the city's reigning pagode pop star, is is introducing a new Bloco, Bloquinho do Gigante (need to buy ticket to join) and will make a run down the Barra/Ondina Carnival Circuit. Leo Santana will be joined by Banda Eva and Forro Tico on this run. This event starts at 8pm at the lighthouse in Barra.
And, just in case you are coming early, while it's not officially carnival, there are big party events in Barra on Saturday 2/23/19 (Fuzuê) and Sunday 2/24/19 (Furdunço). So for all practical purposes, this makes 10 nights of party.
Other highlights worth making note of this Carnival 2019 are some free events, Blocos sem Cordas ("Blocos without ropes"), including;
Bloco Masqueradas with Magareth Menezes in Barra/Ondina on Thursday 2/28
Rio pop sensation, Anitta, on Friday night 3/1 in Barra/Ondina
Pagode star, Igor Kannario on Friday night 3/1 in Barra/Ondina & Monday 3/4 in Campo Grande/Centro
DJ Alok on Saturday 3/2 in Barra/Ondina
American EDM & Carribean Rhythm Collabaration, Major Lazer joined by Brazlian artists, Tropkillaz & Attooxxa, on Saturday, 3/2 in Barra/Ondina
Pagode Artists, Psirico and Igor Kannario will close Carnival with a final run (free, no chords) on Wednesday morning, 3/6 starting at 10am at the lighthouse in Barra.
The official opening ceremony will probably kick off at 5:00pm, Thursday, February 28th, 2019 at the lighthouse in Barra
In typical Brazilian fashion, as of now, only10 days before carnival, the schedueling details regarding the Abertura de Carnaval "(the opening of Carnival") have yet to be released, but presumably, like last carnival 2018, Carnival will start at the lighthouse in Barra with the traditional handing of the keys to the city to the Rei Momo ("the Carnival King"). Then, for the next seven days, until Wednesday at noon (February 14), 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 (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 9am to make one last trip out to Ondina. This is a free event without the bloco restrictions. This Carnival 2019, Pagode artists Psirico and Igor Kannario 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!