Recife Carnival

Recife Carnival
Photo: Herbert Albuquerque
Brazilian Carnival is primarily associated with the samba school parades held in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo during the Shrovetide season. However, such parades are only typical for the Southeast Region of Brazil. Carnival celebrations in the Northeast Region feature organized groups parading through streets and interacting with spectators. The Recife Carnival is one of the most famous carnivals of this kind.

Recife is the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Brazil and the capital of the state of Pernambuco. The Carnival of Recife is regarded as one of the most authentic and democratic carnival celebrations in the country. It begins on the last Friday before Lent and ends on Ash Wednesday.

Carnival celebrations in Pernambuco date back to the colonial period. Every year African slaves and free workers were granted a day off work to celebrate the feast of Epiphany, also known as Three Kings’ Day (January 6). Over the years, these celebrations have transformed into the Carnival as we know it today.

The Recife Carnival is the Carnival of street parties and parades. During the five-day Carnival over 430 local groups give about 3000 shows in the historical center of the city, Recife Antigo (Old Recife). Thousands of people flood the streets to dance to the sound of frevo, raggae, samba, and maracatu.

Frevo is a musical style originating from Recife which is traditionally associated with the Carnival. It was born from the confluence of European and Afro-Brazilian musical genres. The word frevo is used to denote both frevo music and frevo dance. Frevo music is played in a fast tempo with brass instruments (frevo-de-rua) or string instuments (frevo-de-bloco). Frevo dance has developed from capoeira. Frevo dancers (passistas) typically use colorful umbrellas as props.

The Carnival of Recife hosts a number of parades. They do not include competitions, groups simply dance and play instruments side by side. The biggest parade is held on Carnival Saturday. The Galo da Madrugada parade is officially the largest carnival parade in the world, it features over 2 million participants. Another highlight of the Carnival is the regular Night of the Silent Drums where musicians honor the memory of slaves that died in prisons.

Recife Carnival

Photo: Luanda Andrade




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