São Paulo Carnival

São Paulo Carnival
Photo: carnavalsp.com.br
Brazilian Carnival is probably the most famous Carnival celebration in the world. It begins on the last Friday before Lent and lasts until Ash Wednesday. Carnival traditions vary from one region of Brazil to another. In southeastern Brazil huge official parades are led by samba schools. The Carnival of São Paulo is one of the largest Carnivals in this region.

Although the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the largest and most famous Carnival celebration in Brazil, the São Paulo Carnival is pretty spectacular too. The carnival in its modern form was officially created in the 1960s although several parades were held in the 1930s. Since 1991, Carnival parades have been held at Anhembi Sambadrome, one of the largest outdoor venues in São Paulo and arguably in the entire Latin America. The Sambadrome is 530 m long and 14 meter wide, it can accommodate about 30,000 spectators.

The Carnival of São Paulo is first and foremost a samba school competition. Local samba schools participate in huge parades and the jury chooses the winners. Carnival parades in São Paulo are held on Friday and Saturday, as opposed to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival that hosts its parades on Sunday and Monday. Thus it is possible to attend both Carnivals. The results of the competition are announced on Carnival Tuesday in São Paulo and on Ash Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro.

Each samba school participating in the parade presents a different theme. Themes are not assigned, the schools are free to choose their own themes, which typically revolve around historical events or some sort of political or cultural movement. The schools present their themes through dance, music, vibrant costumes, and decorated allegorical floats (carros alegóricos) designed specifically for the Carnival.

The oldest and most popular samba school in São Paulo is Vai Vai. It was officially created in 1930. Vai Vai has been the First Division champion most times. Other famous samba schools include Mocidade Alegre, which originally consisted of cross-dressers, Império da Casa Verde, Mancha Verde, Vila Maria, Rosas de Ouro, Peruche, Camisa Verde Branco, Gaviões da Fiel, and Nenê de Vila Matilde. The most popular genres of music that can be heard during the Carnival are marchinha, samba-enredo, samba de embalo and samba de bloco.

Alongside parades, the Carnival of São Paulo features numerous street parties, of which many last the whole night, and masquerade balls.

São Paulo Carnival

Photo: Rodrigo Capote




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