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Recife and Olinda Carnival, Brazil

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What is the Carnival of Recife and Olinda?

The Carnival of Recife and Olinda is a conglomerate of celebrations that occur between the two cities in eastern Brazil. Olida and Recife are sister cities and eternal rivals when it comes to carnival. Olida and Recife Carnival are two different carnivals that occur at the same time, side by side. Both carnivals complement each other, as uone takes place during the day with more traditional parties, while the other occurs at night with parrandas and concerts.

Although each city competes to celebrate the best carnival, the cities complement each other’s festivities, creating a unique celebration that can only be found in this part of the world. The celebration in Recife is characterized by live entertainment and mainly during the night, it is known for having more multicultural entertainment, with parties and concerts during the night involving groups of diverse racial and cultural characteristics. The celebration in Olinda is characterized by mostly daytime entertainment. Also, the carnival in Olinda hasstreet parades.

 

This duality of activities that mix betweendaytime and nighttime entertainment and modern versus traditional carnival is what makes the festivities in both cities so unique and out of the ordinary. We invite you to be part of the carnivals and get a taste of the celebrations in both cities.

 

The Carnival of Recife and Olinda is characterized by the frevo genre in its dances and music

The Carnival of Recife and Olinda is characterized by the frevo genre in its dances and music

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When is the Carnival of Recife and Olinda?

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The Recife Carnival and the Olinda Carnival are carnivals that occur on traditional dates on carnival holidays, so they happen during the months of February and March.

The carnival of Recife and Olinda will take place approximately from February 12 to 16.

 

 

History of the Carnivals of Recife and Olinda

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The origin of carnival is as old as civilization on the planet, since the festivities related to carnival correspond with ceremonies and activities of Greeks and Romans withsaturnal festivals or associated with astronomical phenomena and natural cycles. Regardless of its origin, what is certain is that carnival already existed in classical and even pre-classical antiquity, with noisy dances, masks and libertinage that are preserved until the contemporary era.

Carnival in Brazil originates from entrudo, a European pagan celebration that arrived in the country with the Portuguese colonizers. Previously, it was performed among families or acquaintances, later gaining the streets, involving rougher activities such as water, flour, ashes and mud wars. However, it was later officially banned and gradually incorporated elements such as confeti and streamers.

In the state of Pernambuco, where Olinda and Recife are located, the Portuguese entrudo changed in the 17th century, when it assimilated African customs. In the 19th century, genres such as frevo and passo emerged, giving the Pernambuco Carnival a unique singularity in Brazil. From then on, the first carnival associations began to emerge in the popular neighborhoods of Recife..

 

Carnival in Olinda

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In its beginnings, the history of the carnival of Olinda is confused with the history of the parties in Recife and Pernambuco. The carnival we know today in the city of Olinda is the result of the emergence of associations of carnival clubs that provide entertainment during the festivities. Olinda preserves the traditions of the carnival originating in Pernambuco, containing the parades of carnival associations that keep alive the genuine roots of the festival in the country.

These carnival groups consist of diverse elements and types of entertainment, being the frevo the most characteristic, although there are also blocos, maractus and afoxés. All these movements are the result of a mixture of traditions betweenEuropean, African and indigenous customs.

Likewise, theOlinda carnival is recognized for itsgiant dolls, which take to the streets during the days of celebration and festivities. These dolls are European heritage and have their origin in the processions of the 15th century. These dolls accompanied religious processions, while, in Olinda, they decorate the carnival festivities. One of the dolls with the greatest trajectory and recognition is the Homem da Meia-Noite or the Midnight Man, which has been present at the carnival since 1932.

Recife

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By the end of the 17th century organizations were proliferating, called “Companhias”, which met to commemorate the DDay of the Kings on January 6. These Companhias were mostly made up of blacks, both slaves and free, who added their work obligations to celebrate Three Kings Day. Later, one of these Companhias began to crown a black king in the church known as Igreja do Rosário dos Pretos. Once slavery was abolished, many more of these groupings emerged.

These new groups held parades in which they made urban art on the steps of the church with paints and brushes. These groups evolved and began to be known as “creative groups”, starting the first street carnivals with masked parades. With the arrival of cars in the country, the floats stopped being horse-drawn to modernize the festivities. The cars were decorated to parade accompanied by the rest of the participants.

In the decade of the 1930s, the batucadas, a subgenre of samba began to emerge, which would give rise to the samba schools after the Second World War. In the 1950s, the first samba contests and the proliferation of various groupings and categories began to take place. During the 1970s, the carnival had presented some regularities in terms of competitions due to internal problems with schools and authorities, which resulted in parades and carnivals with little presence of samba schools. During the 1990s, the more traditional schools returned to compete, recovering the historical thread of carnival festivities in the city.

 

Olinda and Recife

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In Olinda there are no competitions, so the associations of this city usually register in the sister city, Recife. Olinda is a city typically of frevo carnival associations, so many of the modern and popular features among the conventional carnival are not present.

Currently there is the so-called Multicultural Carnival, organized by the city, which has contests in several categories of carnival associations. Considered as the most democratic carnival in the world, where revelers do not have to pay to participate; it is only to have the will, joy and a lot of willingness to have fun on carnival days.

Both cities have created an interesting duality between both sides of the traditional and modern carnivals, so Recife and Olinda complement each other despite the constant competitions for the best carnival. The revelers are used to visiting both carnivals during the festivitiess, attending during the day in Olinda and during the night in Recife..

Where is the Carnival of Recife and Olinda?

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Carnivals are held in the cities of Recife and Olinda, both belonging to the state of Pernambuco, Brazil..

The city of Olida has a total area of 29 square kilometers where about 390,000 people live, while Recife has an area of 218 square kilometers where 1.5 million people live.

 

How the Recife and Olinda Carnival is celebrated

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Although both cities join forces to hold one of the most characteristic and particular carnivals in the whole country, each has unique elements and celebrations that make them unique and particular. Due to the nature of each, one of the carnivals is known for itsdaytime entertainment, while the other is known for itsnighttime entertainment.

 

Celebrations in Recife

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Galo da Madrugada

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The Galo da Madrugada orThe Rooster of the Dawn, is atraditional carnival bloco, which is known as one of the largest in the world. This bloco parades during the Carnival of Recife beginning on Carnival Saturday and marking the opening of Carnival. In each parade, the Gallo usually fills the streets of Recife with two million revelers. In addition, the bloco is known for placing a giant rooster on one of the city’s bridges, becoming one of the group’s signature elements.

 

Night of the Silent Drums

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The night of the silent drums, or Noite dos Tambores Silencioso in Portuguese, is a greattradition of black culture in the locality and is known as the carnival of resistance. In addition to celebrating thetypical Pernambucan culture, the gathering serves for people to celebrate the memory of their ancestors and black slaves who were responsible for the creation of the maracatu, a genre of musical performances and dance.

All nations gather for the ritual and go to the church of the rosary to perform dances, music and singing. During the celebration, drumming and percussion music predominates. At midnight, a religious ceremony is held with the lights off and chants are sung for the orixás, divinity daughter and manifestation of Olodumare, an entity of the Yoruba religion.

 

Celebrations in Olinda

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Giant bonecos

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Giant bonecos are what are known in Spanish as muñecos cabezones in someSpanish-speaking regions. The muñecas de Olinda are giant dolls originating in the city and are used in festive events. They are usually made of cloth, Styrofoam, paper, wood, fiberglass and aluminum. One of the best-known blocos of takes as its insignia the personification of one of these dolls, so it is called Clube Carnavalesco de Alegoria e Crítica O Homem da Meia-Noite, in commemoration of these dolls.

Camarote in Olinda

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The Camarote em Olinda or Camarote in Orinda is one of the biggest carnival events in the city. The Camarote is quite recent, since by 2021, it will be celebrating its fifth anniversary. These cabins are a large space with stage where several artists perform, some of these are even world-class artists. In addition, they also offer an open bar and food bar concept where you will find vodka, beer and cachaça and some meals.

 

Frevo

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The frevo is a type of music that emerged particularly in the state of Pernambuco, which is a combination of the march and maxixé. This rhythm emerged at the end of the 19th century. This dance can be divided into two categories: free crowd dance, performed to the rhythm of the blocos, while the other is the complex frevo, incorporating dancers and special costumes.

This genre of dance and music is performed in both cities and has been listed as Immaterial Cultural Heritage by Unesco in 2012.

 

Blocos of Recife and Olinda

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Carnival blocos are street bands that mobilize crowds in the streets and are the main popular expression of Carnival in Brazil. These parades fall under the term street carnival or carnival originario and occur over a period of about a month, beginning before and ending after Carnival. Generally, it plays samba music throughout Brazil, but the genres change according to the region, as some cities or states have unique genres as a result ofcultural and racial mixtures.

Some of the most recognized blocos in Olinda are:

  • Bacalhau do Batata
  • Cariri Olindense
  • Elefante de Olinda
  • Enquanto Isso na Sala da Justiça
  • Eu Acho É Pouco
  • O Homem da Meia-Noite
  • Black Lament
  • Mangue Beat
  • Some of Recife’s best-known blocos:
  • Bloco Carnavalesco Misto Inocentes do Rosarinho
  • Caboclinho Sete Flexa
  • Winged Goat
  • Clube Carnavalesco Misto Vassourinhas
  • Galo da Madrugada
  • Rosas da Boa Vista

 

Tips for going to the Recife and Olinda Carnivals

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If you decide to visit the Recife and Olinda Carnivals, we recommend planning your trip in advance, making an itinerary of activities and booking the accommodation of your choice. Also, don’t forget to pack comfortable clothes so you can fully enjoy your carnivals. Preferably, wear light-colored clothes, as they absorb much less heat than dark clothes.

Due to the physical activity, the heat and the consumption of alcoholic beverages, your body tends to decompensate much faster, so we recommend you to stay hydrated and apply sunscreen whenever your skin needs it.

Make sure you eat well before going out so you can resist all the partying and walking you will be faced with during carnivals in the cities. It’s also a great way to stay sober if you’ve had a few too many drinks.

If possible, leave your belongings at home or at the hotel and avoid taking your cell phone out on the street, even if it’s to take pictures.

Be sure to mark a meeting point with family and friends, as due to the sheer volume of people at the venue, it is easy to lose sight of people.

 

Events in Recife and Olinda Carnival

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The carnivals of both Recife and Olinda feature a wide variety of events that occur from beginning to end. Some of these events extend from December or January, stretching into February as the festivities intensify. The carnival in these cities never stops, with activities and events from beginning to end.

 

Carnival events in Recife

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Galo de Madrugada

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Recefe Carnival begins early Saturday morning with thepresentation of the bloco Galo de Madrugada. This presentation lasts about 12 hours and features 30 electric trios. After the presentation, other activities and performances such as concerts and musical bands take place.

 

Night of the Silent Drums

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The Night of the Silent Drums is one of the highlights of the Carnival of Recife. The event takes place on Monday of Carnival and features the participation of various groups that commemorate their ancestors. It is a wonderful presentation of drums and sacred religious ceremonies. The event takes place in the Praça da Matriz de São Pedro..

 

Olinda Carnival Events

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Giant Dolls Parade

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Tthe parades of giant Dolls is a great event characteristic of the carnival festivities in the city. The streets are filled with thousands of people who come to see the dolls. The whole event is accompanied by good music and a great atmosphere of celebration and joy.

The event usually takes place on Sunday morning at Alto da Sé. In addition, the giant bonecos also perform in Recife a few days later on Bom Jesus Street.

 

Camarote in Olinda

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Camarote in Olinda has events during 3 days during carnival. In the enclosure there are presentations of various artists and bands, and there is a bar with drinks and food.

The cabins have activities on February 14, 15 and 16 and are located on Olinda Avenue.

 

The presentations of blocos and frevo take place during all the days of carnival in the various sectors of both cities. Each of the cities have their own groups that perform in public places and generally have the presence of electric trios and thousands of revelers who come to celebrate.

 

The Galo da Madrugada is the first big event of the Recife and Olinda Carnival

The Galo da Madrugada is the first big event of the Recife and Olinda Carnival

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Carnival Parades of Recife and Olinda

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In the Carnival of Recife and Olinda there are 2 main parades:The parade of the Galo da Madrugada and the parade of the Giant Bonecos..

The parade of the Galo da Madrugada Bloco is a great party that has millions of revelers who come to celebrate to the best rhythm of the Brazilian carnival. The bloco is considered one of the largest and most important in the world and has more than 30 electric trios, which are large trucks with speakers that animate the party. It has had the registration of 2 million people who come to be part of this incredible parade.

The parade of Giant Bonecos is also one of the main events of the carnival, although it is a little smaller and humbler. These Bonecos or dolls are the representation of the traditional carnival, as they have been part of the festivities for decades. The dolls walk the streets of the cities with the presence of thousands of people. The whole atmosphere features great excitement and musical ambience.

 

Parade route

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The Recife and Olinda Carnival features a wealth of traditional and modern activities

The Recife and Olinda Carnival features a wealth of traditional and modern activities

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The Desfile do Galo da Madrugada features a parade of about 6 kilometers that starts near the Forte das Cinco Pontas and ends next to the Rua do Sol, at the Duarte Coelho Bridge. The entire event lasts for 12 hours and ends at approximately 7 pm.

The parade of the Giant Bonecos takes place in Olinda at 8 a.m. in Alto da Sé and the parade passes through the Academia Santa Gertrudes, Amparo, Ribeira and cultima in the prefecture of the city..

The parade of bonecos in Recife takes place at the Embaixada de Pernambuco dos Bonecos Gigantes or in Portuguese, Embaixada de Pernambuco dos Bonecos Gigantes. This concentration point is located at Rua do Bom Jesus and will pass through Marco Zero, again on Rua do Bom Jesus until ending at Praça do Arsenal. The parade in the city occurs at 5 pm.

 

Sun-meat is one of the specialties in the area

Sun-meat is one of the specialties in the area

 

What to eat at the Carnival in Recife and Olinda

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The state of Pernambuco has some pretty unique dishes that you should try during your visit to the carnivals. One of the star dishes is the macaxeira com carne-de-sol, in English it would be cassava or manioc with sun meat. Carne de sol is one of the specialties of the northeastern part of the country and is basically a piece of meat with a generous layer of salt that is left exposed to the sun to cure it. This meat can be cooked in different ways and be accompanied by various side dishes.

Another dish you can try is the Caldinho de feijão or Black bean soup. This is a simple soup made with black bean with vegetables, well-seasoned meat broth, tomato and sun meat or dried meat. The result is a consisted soup that is served and eaten hot.

In addition, both cities have a lot of options that you can try during your carnival vacation. The best known places are: Camarada Camarão, Bode do No, Entre Amigos Praia, Entre Amigos o Bode, Parraxaxa – Casa Forte, Restaurante Bargaco and Tio Pepe Restaurant.

 

The Caldinho de feijão is a traditional soup of the area

The Caldinho de feijão is a traditional soup of the area

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What to see and do inside the Recife and Olinda Carnival

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Once you are in either city, you can be part of the Galo da Madrugada Parade that takes place in the city of Recife. The parade lasts about 12 hours of pure fun, music and dancing, so we recommend you get ready for the big day. This is followed by the Night of the Silent Drums, a mysterious and interesting commemoration of the local African ancestors.

During Carnival you have the opportunity to jump from one city to the other so that you can see all the activities that take place in both cities. In Olinda there are the parades of the giant dolls, one of the traditions with the longest trajectory. In addition, you can alsogo to the cabins in Olinda, where you can enjoy live music, alcoholic beverages and food at your disposal.

Frevo performances and blocos occur in both cities, but be sure to scour every street well to find them, as they can happen in any square, street or avenue.

What to see and do outside of the Recife and Olinda Carnivals

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Praça do Marco Zero

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It is a square located in Recife. This location has the particularity of being extremely colorful, since the buildings as the floor of the square are full of colors. In its surroundings you can find a lot of historical buildings and stores where you can eat something.

 

Ricardo Brennand Institute

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It is a cultural institute located in Recife. The precinct was inaugurated in 2002 and has a museum, an art gallery, a park and a library.

 

Saint Benedict’s Basilica and Monastery

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It is a basilica located in Olinda. The building is in baroque style and is part of the Historic Center of Olinda and is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The church dates from the first settlements of the colors and inside there are several religious figures and a gold-plated altar.

Neither the city of Recife nor the city of Olinda are overly safe cities; in fact, they have a remarkable crime rate. If you decide to visit both cities, we recommend you to wear little flashy clothes, no jewelry or expensive garments.

Avoid taking your cell phone out on the street and contact the police if you feel your safety is compromised.

Weather in Recife and Olinda Carnival

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During Carnival, both cities have warm weather, with temperatures ranging from 26 to 31 degrees Celsius.

 

At the Recife and Olinda Carnival you can find big dolls known as Bonecos Gigantes

At the Recife and Olinda Carnival you can find big dolls known as Bonecos Gigantes

 

How to get to Recife and Olinda Carnivals

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The closest airport to both cities is the Recefe-Guararapes International Airport, which is located in the city of Recife. The airport receives some international flights and a large number of domestic flights. Once here, you can take the means of transportation to get to the city of your choice.

How to arrive by cruise

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Some companies provide embarkation services to the city of Recife. Once there, you can, transport yourself to Olinde or stay in Recife.

 

How to get there by bus

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In addition, the city of Recife is connected to other cities such as Salvador, Fortaleza and João Pessoa. The journey time for the first two to the city is 11 and 13 hours, while for the latter it is 2 hours. The price of the trips ranges between 8 and 30 US dollars.

 

How to get there by car

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From the airport, you can reach the city center through Avenida Av. Mascarenhas de Moraes. The trip takes 15 minutes. To Olinda it is the same way, but the trip takes 30 minutes.

If you decide to take a cab, the taxi fare ranges from US$1 to US$3.m. The hotel has a swimming pool, bar, parking and free wifi.