Samba School Parades

Carnaval is regarded as the ultimate Brazilian party. It is celebrated throughout the country. Although it takes on a different appearance in each region, the basic structure is always the same – shake up the prevailing social organization and promote pleasure. Everywhere children and adults dress up as characters from ancient legends or the latest figures from the news media. These can embody mythical, legendary or humorous characters. Carnaval lives for parody and thus provides a role reversal: men dress up as women, women wear unusual costumes. As props, revelers use masks, ornaments in their hair and allegory. Sometimes the clothes are brief to the point of being indispensable. At other times the costumes are extravagant. It is a feast of contrasts, dance and music.

In Rio de Janeiro, samba schools traditionally compete using the lyrics of carnaval songs as plot outlines, in addition to samba-marches and the sambas from the traditional carnaval schools. The invention of the electric train, a mobile sound stage from Bahia, introduced a new way of playing and partying at carnaval time. In rural areas of some Brazilian states, mostly in the Northeast, there are ways of joining in the exuberant carnival celebrations, like the maracatus in rural Pernambuco.

Although carnaval officially lasts for four days, because of its strong tourist appeal the festivities can last ten days or more. A movable feast, associated with the Catholic calendar, Carnaval traditionally begins on Saturday and ends on Ash Wednesday. But if the warm-ups, rehearsals and pre-carnival dances are included, the festivities can last almost an entire month in some regions of the country. During this time there are parades, dances, costumes and contests and several types of carnaval blocks - frevos, ranchos, etc. for excitement.