Due to its special contact with European traditions during the colonization processes, the South American continent is the one that best celebrates carnival festivities in the whole continent and possibly in the whole world. The carnivals in the different countries of South America express through dancing, their costumes and music their identity and traditions before hundreds of thousands of people every year.
We accompany you to know the 10 Best Carnivals in South America.
Thecity of San Juan de Pasto is the epicenter of an incredible celebration that commemorates the diversity of ethnicity and race. Carnival has been present in Colombia since the 16th century, being a mixture of indigenous, Amazonian and Pacific traditions. However, it is presumed that the carnival arrived in the city of Pasto in the mid-nineteenth century. The Carnival of Blacks and Whites is a multicultural representation that involves the afro-descendant, Creole and indigenous communities.
The Carnival of Blacks and Whites is the largest celebration in southern Colombia, which celebrates the diverse cultures and ethnicities of the area. The carnival is composed of a large number of events such as parties, carnavalitos, cultural manifestations of great importance and the parades. These parades are mainly divided into two categories: Día de Negros and Día de Blanco, both counting with different elements.
Day of the Blacks is the main day to celebrate the Afro-descendant community. During the event people paint their faces and the faces of others with black paint. In addition, large music and dance events are held. It has been established as one of the traditions to shout “Que vivan los Negros!” during this day. Everyone participates in the event and the atmosphere in the city is one of great happiness and festive spirit. The Day of the Whites works under the same theme, only, instead of painting their faces with black paint, a great war of talcum powder, foam and cream takes place.
The Carnival of Blacks and Whites has a fixed date, but this is not in the traditional carnival calendar, since it is held during the month of January. Ethe Carnival of Blacks and Whites is usually held in early January.
Gualeguaychú is a city near the border with Uruguay, in the province of Entre Ríos. Carnival has been present in the city since 1840; however, it was banned some time later despite having the permits to celebrate it. In the year 1876 the first commission that carried out the parades or “corsos” in the city was created and by the year 1880 masks could be worn in public only if they had the necessary authorization.
The Gualeguaychú Carnival, also known as the Carnival of the Country, is one of the most important celebrations of all Argentina. The celebration bears some similarity with the carnivals of Rio de Janeiro, as they implement the use of the Corsódromo, which is the same as a sambódromo. The corsos are held only on Saturdays and carnival days, extending from January to February or March.
The Gualeguaychú Carnival has 5 official parades which are made up of members of groups, associations and sports clubs. However, only 3 of them are presented each year to compete for the winning title. The comparsas perform exclusively in the city’s corsódromo and each comparsa has its own carrozas, costumes, musical pieces and dresses. The Gualeguaychú Carnival has achieved great popularity over the years, attracting some 30,000 every year.
The event works in a peculiar way, as the events occur only on Saturdays from January to February or March and on carnival days.
Recife and Olinda are sister cities located next to each other in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. Carnival in Brazil arrived with the Portuguese colonizers, who brought the original traditions of carnival with them. Upon arriving in Brazil, there was a kind of cultural synchronism that blended with the pre-existing and African traditions that came through the slaves. However, when carnival arrived in the state of Pernambuco, the musical genres changed, giving rise to the frevo and passo.
Despite being neighboring cities and holding carnival at the same time, Recife and Olinda hold carnivals differently. Recife has a slightly more modern carnival, as it usually holds nighttime events. In addition, it also has cross-cultural entertainment, holding events of various genres and origins. Olinda, on the other hand, features somewhat more traditional entertainment, daytime entertainment, street parties and parades.
Recife is characterized by one of the most important blocos presentations in the country. Very early in the morning, Galo da Madrugada, a bloco, also known as a group, which can attract up to one million people per event, is presented. In addition, the city also features the Night of the Silent Drums, a ceremony that commemorates the African culture and the resistance of the black community.
Olida has some tents or structures known as Camarotes. A large number of world-class artists perform in these cabins. In addition, there are also large parades with dolls known as Giant Bonecos. In both cities there are blocos and frevo performances.
Although carnival in both cities may begin or end on different dates, they are usually held on the traditional carnival dates. The carnival in Recife and Olinda will take place from approximately Friday, February 12 through Tuesday, February 16.
The border city of Encarnación in southern Paraguay holds one of the most popular carnivals in the entire country. The carnival was first held in the 20th century, although it was not until the end of the 20th century that the city’s sambódromo was installed. The carnival was a product of the city’s good economy, which at the time allowed several immigrants to settle in the city and contribute to the great cultural diversity.
Like the carnivals of Gualeguaychú, the Carnaval de Encarnación takes place only on carnival Saturdays. Five groups compete for the title of winner. Each of these groupings is made up of various members such as passista, standard-bearer, bastonera, queen and dancers. Each grouping has themed costumes to accompany their large decorated floats. In addition, they must have a dance repertoire and musical accompaniment.
Each group has approximately one hour to perform their repertoires dance and show all the presentation components. As they perform the show, they are evaluated by a panel of judges who score each of the presentations, both individually and as a group as a whole. During the presentations in the corsodrome, it is customary to have a big shaving foam war or spray snow event. Everyone participates, including the spectators.
Performances at the corsos venue are held on Saturdays ranging from January through March. The Encarnación Carnival takes place approximately from the end of January to the end of February.
The Carnival of El Callao or Carnival of El Callao is one of the most significant celebrations in the entire country. This carnival has a deep meaning of identity for the citizens, especially those located in the south of the State of Bolivar. The carnival has been held in El Callao since the 20th century and has a strong influence of the West Indians from Trinidad and Tobago, who came to the area to work in the mining industry. One of the characters that made the festivities possible was the Negra Isidora, social promoter and founder of the Calipso del Callao. In 2016, the carnivals of Callao were recognized as Immaterial Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.
The Carnivals of Callao were highly influenced by Creole, European, African and Caribbean traditions. In addition, the carnival has different personalities within the festivities that fulfill various functions. Among the characters present in the festivities are: La Negra Isidora, the Mineros, the Diablos del Callao, Mediopintos and as Madamas, the latter being possibly the most symbolic character. The Madamas are in charge of preserving and developing the traditions of the carnival year after year, they are the matriarchs of the festivities.
Before the festivities, a mass is held in which the Madamas attend. After this, the formal celebrations begin. During the festivities, all the carnival characters parade around performing their various roles. The diablos impose order, the miners wear the costumes characteristic of the work, the Mediopintos ask for money and the Madamas dance and sing all along the way. Civil society, beauty queens and carnival queens also participate in the parade. The whole event is carried out in a great festive atmosphere and full of music.
Ethe Callao Carnival will take place from approximately February 11 to 16.
The Montevideo Carnival is one of the most important and popular celebrations in the entire nation. Initially, Carnival in the country’s capital was celebrated aggressively, as were several areas of the continent and Europe. Flour, egg and water wars were the main components of the festivities. However, after a series of censures, the carnival was civilized to acquire new elements. The first comparsa of the carnival of Montevideo appeared in the year 1872. Since then, the comparsas were proliferating in the capital city.
The Montevideo Carnival is a true cultural spectacle that is composed of several cultural manifestations. The murgas are one of the most outstanding elements of the festivities. Despite being of Spanish origin, the murgas have deeply permeated the identity of the citizens, especially during the carnival festivities. These groups perform humorous or satirical performances about different political, social and cultural characters. In addition, candombe, a cultural movement brought from Africa that can be seen especially in the dress, dance and music, can also be found in the candombe.
The most awaited event of the whole carnival is the Desfile de Llamadas. This parade is a wonderful Afro-Uruguayan cultural representation. In addition, it is a popular celebration of candombe. The parades feature 40 comparsas or groupings distributed over the two days of the event. Each of the groupings is composed of several members, these at the same time develop certain activities or represent particular elements. The comparsas are made up of 36 drummers, 1 vedette, 4 flag bearers, 1 medialuna, 2 stars,2 brooms, 2 gramilleros, 2 mamas viejas and 15 mixed dancers.
Due to the large number of components of the Montevideo Carnivals, these can extend for up to 40 days or more. Generally, they are held from the last week of January and peak in late February or early May.
The city of Salvador, located in thestate of Bahia in eastern Brazil. The Salvador Carnival is the main rival of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. In fact, many people claim that Salvador’s carnival is better than Rio’s. Carnival in Brazil arrived during the colonization of the Portuguese approximately in the 16th century. It was not until 1950 that Adolfo Dodo Nascimento and Osmar Álvares Macódo invented a convertible car in which music was played, which was known as Fobica. That car would be the initial form of the electric trios, large trucks used by the blocos to party at carnivals.
Carnival in Salvador is somewhat different from carnivals held in the rest of Brazil, as these do not have official parades of floats. The main attraction of the Carnival of Bahia, as the Salvador Carnival is also known, is the street carnival. This street carnival consists of the daily and simultaneous entertainment of hundreds of local blocos that parade through the streets with large trucks playing music or even performing artists.
The Blocos are groupings that attract hundreds of people to party in the streets. In addition, the members of the blocos are the ones who provide the entertainment and music for the public. Blogs can be composed of a few members or thousands of members. Depending on the size and impact of each bloco, they can have several electric trios, dancers, musicians and many other elements.
The Blocos do Salvador in Bahia, are presented daily at various points of the city. Some run along certain established routes, while others may be static. The carnival also has different stages that carry out diverse musical environments and spaces for children.
The Salvador Carnival usually takes place between February and March.
The Oruro Carnival is one of the most important events in Bolivia and the entire continent. The carnival is a perfect syncretism of European and indigenous traditions. The Carnival is held in the city of Oruro, in the province of Cercado in the southwestern central region. The festival has been around since colonial times, but did not intensify or acquire a national significance of its own after independence. Because the cultural expression of the ethnic groups was limited during colonization, carnival events were mainly of Catholic origin. Once independence was achieved, carnivals acquired a more proper, free, Creole and cultural meaning.
Due to the great cultural importance, the Carnival of Oruro was proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on May 18, 2001.The Carnivals of Oruro are an incredible celebration that incorporates Catholic religious aspects and native traditions. Every year, about 25. 000 dancers and 10,000 musicians come from all over the city and the country to pay tribute to the Virgen Socavón, but also to their culture and ethnicities. In addition, the different ethnic groups of the country also come to pay tribute to the Pacha Mama and the different religious images they venerate.
The main event of the Carnival of Oruro is the gran desfile with the agrupaciones. All the groups present in the carnival parade along a route of about 4 kilometers where they present a large number of dances and musical repertoires. In addition, each of the groups have traditional costumes full of colors, patterns and religious images. Some of the groups also parade with masks. The most predominant styles in the event are the diabladas, the caporales and the morenada.
The Carnival of Barranquilla is the largest and most impressive event in all of Colombia. According to state documentations, the carnival in the city of Barranquilla has been part of the city since 1893. However, there is unofficial material that the carnival existed as early as 1829. The Carnival of Barranquilla is one of the most important and largest cultural expressions of the country and the continent. Due to its contribution to the culture and development and preservation of it, the Carnival of Barranquilla has been proclaimed as Cultural Masterpiece of the Nation by the National Congress of Colombia in 2002. Some years later, it was registered as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
During carnivals, countless cultural manifestations, which are conveyed through dancing, music and costumes. The celebration is replete with fantastic events from start to finish. The concerts, orchestras, children’s carnivals, reading of the bando and the parades are some of the events that dominate the festivities. Carnival is composed of several parades, all of them with different themes and characteristics.
Among the parades that stand out the most in the event is the Batalla de Flores, a great event that features the participation of the Carnival Queens, folkloric groups and floats covered with flowers. There is also the Gran Parada de Tradición and Folclor where several traditional groups perform. Finally, the Gran Parada, the main parade with the participation of all the carnival groups, takes place.
The Barranquilla Carnival will be held approximately from February 13 to Tuesday, February 16.
Welcome to the most impressive and mind-blowing carnival in the entire American continent. Rio de Janeiro Carnival is the biggest and colorful carnival celebration on the entire planet. This event has influenced much of sister countries and distant regions when it comes to carnivals. Carnival was brought to the country through the Portuguese, who introduced the “entrudo”. The Blocos and carnival groups of Rio de Janeiro have been present since the 19th century, but it was not until the decade of the 30s of the 20th century when competitions began to take place.
The city of Rio de Janeiro never rests during the festivities, as it is constantly on the move. Bars, restaurants and clubs hold themed parties every day. The streets are filled with Blocos, who with their electric trios electric entertain hundreds of thousands of people with good music and dancing. However, the official parades are probably the highlight of the whole festival, when the big themed shows with floats, dances and colorful costumes take place.
The main parades are held in the sambódromo city. These parades are a complete sensory spectacle that there are no words to describe it. Dozens of colossal floats take over the sambódromo with incredible decorations, some of these floats are so large that they include pools and slides. In addition, all the dancers are on the track in large and colorful costumes, performing choreographies and entertaining the audience.
The official samba schools are those who participate in the official parades, which are divided between Group A and Special Group. The Special Group are the most famous and largest schools and always perform on Sundays and Mondays, while the Group A are somewhat smaller and perform on Fridays and Saturdays. There are a few other smaller schools that perform in other sectors of the city. In addition, blocos and clubs party throughout the week.