Local yellow acacia blossoms and Royal Poinciana planted along the Bahia streets introduce you to Bahia. From the blues waters of the Itapua and Stella Maris to the mile long beaches of Porto da Barra, Praia do Forte, Itaparica, Morro da Sao Paulo, Bahia is the spirit of this amazing country. And come this time of year, the Brazilian region offers magnificence during their annual ‘carnaval’ festivities.
Usually taking place at the beginning of February each year, hosts of the worlds’ biggest street party, Bahia attracts over 4 million visitors. Appropriately titled the ‘People’s Carnival’, these festivals are just that. Unlike it’s neighbouring, over-popularized Rio, these festivities are less touristy and not held in a stadium like it’s counterpart.
Seven days of non-stop partying along on a 41km parade circuits on various streets, alleys and avenues, this party stands apart from the rest. No party globally can compete with the core of this festival.
The Dodo circuit, the most popular street area, hosts the best of Brazilian talent by culminating the various sounds and rhythms of the nation, as well as the celebrating the diverse Brazilian cultures through dance. Thousands of revelers dance and party on the streets behind large trio electricos (floats-like-trucks), that move along each circuit. These three storey high mobile stages elevate popular local and International artists above the streets.
There are strong undertones of Africanism and soulfulness in both Brazilian music and dance, having elements of reggae, Apache Indian rhythms and fresh samba beats. The carnival itself was established in the mid 1800’s during the days of slavery, with a formalized city carnival established after the abolishment of slavery in 1895.
The carnival infrastructure is easily set up for everyone present; food and drink vendors ever ready to serve, public services like toilets, police, medical services and tourist information booths are visible on many street corners. Dollars are accepted everywhere. English is not widely spoken in Bahia, however locals are very accommodating and friendly.
Alternative to the streets parties, large camarote (multi-floored lounges) are constructed along the streets, overlooking the circuit. These host tourists, local media and celebrities unwilling or unable to party on the circuit. Privately owned, these host exclusive parties. Invites or premium fees paid upfront gain one access. Costs range from $50– $250 per day, which includes unlimited food, drinks and entertainment for the entire day. More up-market camarotes are air-conditioned, have huge balconies, various dance floors, massage parlours, cyber cafes and even beauty salons.
Definitely a might-do-item on any party goers list, Bahia offers a bit of everything: culture, art, music and rich history – and that only in Salvador, one city.
Brazil might not be a financially affluent country, but trade that with the diversity of culture and heritage; quintessence and party spirit of its people; and the fundamental beauty of its natural landscape and you have one of the richest countries on the continent.