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Rio de Janeiro Carnival vs Salvador Carnival, Brazil

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Carnival is fervently experienced in every corner of Brazil. Millions of people move from all over the world and the country to be part of the festivities, specifically to Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. Although the Rio de Janeiro Carnival is the best known in the entire country, there are a number of incredible carnivals throughout the nation. The Carnival of Salvador in the state of Bahia is another favorite, both for tourists and residents. It is also the main competition of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.

The Carnival of Salvador and Rio de Janeiro are two of the most outstanding carnivals in the country. Every year, discussions about the best carnival in the country are reborn, with the carnival of Rio and Salvador being the first two on the list. Every year, the cities of Salvador and Rio de Janeiro vie for the top spot in Google searches during the carnival seasons, these in turn interchange year after year, due to the incredible festive components of both carnivals.

 

Next we will let you know the characteristics of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival and Salvador Carnival..

 

The Carnivals of Rio and Salvador are the two main ones in Brazil

The Carnivals of Rio and Salvador are the two main ones in Brazil

 

Rio de Janeiro Carnival

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Rio de Janeiro Carnival is undoubtedly the most popular in the whole country and the world. However, this does not mean that it is the only one or the most visited. Rio de Janeiro has some wonderful colorful shows at the sambadrome in the city. The Rio de Janeiro Carnival parades are one of several events that occur during the carnival season in the city. While it is true that these parades are the most televised, the city’s blocos are also popular attractions in Rio.

In addition to the parades, Rio de Janeiro Carnival also features the blocos, the closest thing to conventional carnival groups. The streets of the city are also the scene of carnival festivities. These street celebrations are known as the street carnival or popular carnival, since this one has no added price. The city of Rio de Janeiro has hundreds of these blocos that animate the streets every year. Each of these blocos has a different personality, not all of them have the same elements. Some of the blocos focus on reproducing worldly known songs and then add more Brazilian rhythms to them, while others are more traditional and play samba de enredo for the enjoyment of the entire audience. There are tastes for everyone during Rio’s street parties.

 

Private venues such as hotels and clubs, as well as some public squares that are part of the carnival season in the city. Many establishments in the city of Rio organize and celebrate great colorful parties. These parties have diverse themes, can be fantasy or classic and function as an alternative to conventional parades. There are dozens of venues, clubs and even blocos that offer these parties.

 

The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro is the best and biggest celebration in South America

The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro is the best and biggest celebration in South America

 

Salvador Carnival, Bahia

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The Salvador Carnival in the state of Bahia is the main contender of the carnivals in Rio de Janeiro. This is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the whole country during the carnival season. Every year, more people show up during carnivals than during summer vacations in this city. Also, theCarnival in Salvador offers more than 200,000 direct jobs during the festivities to the citizens of the capital of Bahia and all those involved with the festivities.

Salvador has been one of the key cities for the development of carnival training throughout the country. In 1950, Adolfo Antônio do Nascimento and Osmar Alvares Macedo, invented what would become the predecessor of the Electric Trios. The Electric Trios, or Trios Elétricos in Portuguese, are large trucks that serve as a means to entertain the public during bloco performances. These Tríos Eléctricos are large trucks loaded with horns and a sound system to entertain people.

 

The city of Salvador has a great list of events happening all the time. The main attraction of this city are the hundreds of blocos performances and all its derivatives throughout the city. In addition to this, the city also has dozens of diverse spaces for all the public to be satisfied with the entertainment.

 

Thousands of people come to the Salvador Carnival to party with the electric trios

Thousands of people come to the Salvador Carnival to party with the electric trios

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Important Components

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Although both carnivals take place in the same country, it does not mean that they are identical. In fact, each of the carnivals are different, whether in the music, the blocos and the way of celebrating are completely different. Here are some of the most symbolic components of the carnivals of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador in the state of Bahia.

 

Music

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If you thought that samba was the predominant rhythm of the carnival festivities throughout the country, well, we would tell you that you are wrong. Rio de Janeiro Carnival and Salvador Carnival feature totally different musical rhythms. On the one hand, we have the samba and its subgenre as the samba enredo, which predominates in the carnivals of Rio de Janeiro. On the other side, we have the axé, which is often heard during the carnivals of Salvador, Bahia.

 

Bands of musicians perform in the streets during the Salvador Carnival

Bands of musicians perform in the streets during the Salvador Carnival

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Samba

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The Samba, Samba Urbana Carioca or simply Samba Carioca, is a Brazilian musical genre that originated among Afro-Brazilian urban communities in the city of Rio de Janeiro in the early 20th century. This musical and dance genre is related to West African cultural expressions mixed with Brazilian folk traditions. Samba is known as one of the most important cultural phenomena in the country.

In its beginnings, samba was simply the name given to popular dance. However, over the years, it began to morph into simply a genre of popular songs. In the late 1920s, samba managed to take the current form we know today. Later, samba began to incorporate new rhythms, melodies and thematic aspects. Throughout this process of establishing itself as a urban and modern musical expression, samba carioca played a decisive role in determining the aesthetic and rhythmic bases of the samba schools.

Once the samba genre was formally structured, it began to popularize and proliferate among the various performers in the country. In this way, samba managed to establish itself as one of the most important cultural symbols of the whole country.

 

Axé

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The axé, is the musical genre that emerged in the state of Bahia in the 1980s during the popular manifestations of the Salvador Carnival. This very particular genre mixes many other cultural aspects. Among the genres most influenced by axé are ijexá, a subethnic subgroup of the Yoruba. However, other influences of African origin can also be identified. Previously, the word axé was a religious greeting meaning good energy.

Axé began to spread throughout the country, serving as entertainment for many other events, not only during carnivals.

 

 

Parades

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Parades are undoubtedly one of the most important competent of most carnivals in the world. In both carnivals you can find different features, these are also included in the parades.

 

Rio de Janeiro

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The parades in the city of Rio de Janeiro are something from another planet. As is well known, it is one of the main attractions of the city. During the carnival season, Rio de Janeiro presents 3 types of parades: Parade of the Special Group, Parade of the Access Group and Parade of the Champions. All of these are somewhat different, including the staging and the price of admission. However, all of these offer an incredible and magical show.

Both groups are composed of professional samba schools. However, the Special Group and the Group Access have notable differences. The parades of the Special Group are always somewhat more impressive than those of the Access Group. This is not to say that the parades of the Access Group schools are not good; quite the contrary, both are equally wonderful. The Parade of Champions is made up of the 6 schools with the best performance that same year and is usually attended by people who are extremely committed to the Carnival festivities. The parades of the Access Group take place on Friday and Saturday, while the parades of the Special Group, on Sunday and Monday. The Parade of Champions takes place on the following Saturday.

 

The Rio de Janeiro Carnival is the most spectacular celebration in the world

The Rio de Janeiro Carnival is the most spectacular celebration in the world

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Each of the samba schools, whether Special Group or Access Group, must develop a plot. This plot must contain several cultural manifestations, among them the dance, the music and of course, the costumes. The parade is divided into several sections, which are composed of hundreds of members of the schools. In addition to the general plot, each of these sections or groups has a story, which connects with the rest to develop the overall plot.

All the members wear incredible colorful costumes. However, those who wear the most ostentatious costumes are the outstanding members of the schools. Usually, these featured members have theatrical pieces unique to them or their partners. The floats are another must-have element in the parades. The maximum number of floats is 8 and usually one is placed after each section of people. These floats enjoy a considerable size and even each of the structures manages to hold dozens of people.

Some of the best known schools that participate in the Rio de Janeiro Carnival are:

 

Salgueiro

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It is one of the most traditional schools in the whole city. The school was founded in the year 1953 from the integration of two different samba schools. Its characteristic colors are white and red. Currently, they are the fourth school with the largest number of titles in the carnival, counting 9 titles of champion of the Special Group. In addition, it has also received a good number of awards and commemorations from the city.

 

Mangueira

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Mangueira is another of the popular schools of the Rio Carnival. It was founded in 1928 in Morro da Mangueira. The colors that represent this school are green and pink. It is currently the second school with the most champion titles, collecting 20 achievements and 19 runner-ups.

 

Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel

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Mocidade was founded in the year 1955, but it was not until the 1970s that they gained great popularity in the city. Its colors identity are green and white. Today, it is the seventh school with the highest number of achievements.

 

Beija-Flor

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The Beija-Flor school wasfounded in 1948. However, it paraded for the first time in 1954, the year in which it became champion for the first time. Today it is considered the third school with the highest number of achievements.

 

Beija-flor's flagship colors are blue and white

Beija-flor’s flagship colors are blue and white

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Acadêmicos do Grande Rio

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TheAcadêmicos do Grande Rio school wasfounded in 1988, after the merger of two other schools known as de GRES Grande Rio and Académicos de Duque de Caxias. This school has placed as runner-up in 4 editions.

 

Imperatriz

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The Imperatiz School wasfounded in the year 1959, but held its first parade in 1960. The colors representing this school are white, green and gold. Currently, the school has 8 titles, 3 of these achieved with the highest qualification.

 

 

Salvador

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The city of Salvador does not have professional samba school parades, as the entire celebration revolves around the presentations of blocos. However, the city of Salvador has “Circuitos”. These circuits determine the parade route that each bloco in the city travels. The blocos parade through these areas while entertaining all the public that shows up on the streets. Some of the most important circuits in the city of Salvador during carnivals are: Dodo Circuit, Osmar Circuit and Batatinha Circuit.

 

The streets are filled with thousands of people during the Salvador Carnival

The streets are filled with thousands of people during the Salvador Carnival

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Blocos

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Both carnivals feature street entertainment, better known as blocos de carnaval. Although the blocos of both Rio de Janeiro Carnival and Salvador Carnival feature the same principle, the two are completely different.

Rio de Janeiro Street Carnival has been growing and evolving for several decades to become what we know today. Despite having some differences such as musical genres and organization between both parties, the Rio Street Carnival has been getting closer and closer to the street party of Salvador’s Carnival. The main difference is that the carnival in Rio has hundreds of smaller blocos of people and some large blocos. Although Rio de Janeiro has large blocos recognized worldwide, these do not compare to the street parties of Salvador, which are muchmore organized, large and with the presence of world artists. In addition, theblocos of Salvador are paid, while those of Rio, are not.

 

At Salvador Carnival there are two basic types of parties, those known as “Camarotes” which are basically large clubs with multiple rooms, DJ’s, food, drinks and balcones overlooking the street party circuit and the traditional Blocos. Like the carnivals in Rio de Janeiro, the Blocos are the organized mobile street parties. The cabins tend to be more relaxed and comfortable, while the blocos can be quite revoluntary, energetic and usually host hundreds of thousands of people.

 

The Blocos of Rio's carnival are known as the popular carnival

The Blocos of Rio’s carnival are known as the popular carnival

 

Salvador Carnivals are much more organized and fun. However, they are not free like those in Rio. To gain access to the bloco parties, you must buy in advance some street party T-shirts called “abadás”, which are related to the logo and colors of the bloco of your choice or your preference. These shirts can range from 50 to 500 US dollars per party, all depending on how good and popular the blog you choose is. Some blocos in Salvador perform alongside other artists of national and international stature. For this reason, some prices may be higher.

Although the best-known blocos in Salvador are paid, this does not mean that there are no other options. There is a modality in theSalvador Carnival known as “Pipoca”. People who decide to party “pipoca” are people who celebrate in independent blocos, which are not part of theofficial groupings. Although they may not have the best entertainment of the entire carnival, this modality is completely free, making it a wonderful option if you’re traveling on a tight budget.

Block cabins can include a host of services, such as open bar, views of the blocks, private restrooms and deluxe services. In addition, some staterooms are age-restricted.

 

Which one is better, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival or the Salvador Carnival?

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It all depends on what you want to enjoy during the carnival season in Brazil. If you want to know everything about the samba schools and, in addition, live a street carnival experience, we recommend going to the city of Rio de Janeiro. However, if you’re looking for wild parties, electric trios and a more varied music repertoire, we recommend visiting the city of Salvador. Also, remember that for the Salvador Carnival you can spend a little more money if you want the full experience. Also, Rio’s carnival parades are mostly paid and although they have popular benches, the view towards the define leaves much to be desired.

 

Salvador's Carnival is one of the biggest carnivals in Brazil

Salvador’s Carnival is one of the biggest carnivals in Brazil

 

Which is safer, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival or the Salvador Carnival?

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Keep in mind that both are large capital cities, where criminal activity is somewhat more notorious than in small towns or cities. Also, during carnival time, there are tourists all over the place, so they also attract pickpockets and other people who commit crimes. Also, both carnivals apply strict security. Ein the Rio carnival festivities there is security both in the sambódromo and in the calles and Salvador with security cordons in the blocos..

It is important for you to keep in mind that Salvador is aboveRio de Janeiro in terms of violent crime, so it is more prone to criminal activity in Salvador than in Rio. However, it is imperative that risks are everywhere, so we recommend keeping your belongings in a safe place, not carrying a lot of cash and paying attention to your surroundings.

 

Can I go to both carnivals at the same time?

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Technically yes. However, it is somewhat cumbersome and impractical to make such a short-term trip during a fairly important holiday season in the country. Both carnivals take place on the same date, with the exception of Salvador which starts a day earlier. For this reason, you should think carefully about where you want to spend your carnivals.

As an alternative, you can attend the first Salvador carnival events and then attend the Grupo Especial parade, which take place Sunday and Monday of carnival. You can attend both carnivals if you plan well the whole journey and detail everything you particularly want to see in each carnival. Just keep in mind that thetransportation costs, parades in Rio de Janeiro and Bloco in Salvador can be somewhat expensive, so you’ll have to spend a good amount of money.

 

Each of the samba schools has colorful costumes and floats

Each of the samba schools has colorful costumes and floats

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Advantages and Disadvantages

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Like many other celebrations, you’ll want to know all the advantages and disadvantages that your tourist destination might bring. Here are some pros and cons of going to each of the carnival celebrations, including travel cost, entertainment and facilities.

 

Rio de Janeiro Carnival

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Pros

    • It is one of the favorite tourist destinations in the whole country, full of natural attractions and many other tourist sites
    • It is quite cheaper than Salvador Carnival. However, remember that it also has to do with the type of tickets you want to buy at the sambadrome, as these can go up or down depending on the seat or services included
    • The celebration in Rio de Janeiro is less wild than the one in Salvador
    • Rio’shotel industry is much better than Salvador’s

Contras

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    • It is more touristy than salvadoran, so many of the attractions or events can be adapted to be to the liking of the outside eye

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    • The street parties are somewhat smaller and less structured and organized

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Salvador Carnival

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Pros

    • It is a more authentic carnival and follows the original cultural lines of the locality

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    • Salvador’s carnival has a somewhat wilder spirit than Rio’s

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    • Thestreet parties are much larger and more varied

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Contras

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    • It is quite a bit more expensive considering thatyou must pay each time you attend a bloco

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    • The bloco presentations are much more crowded, so you can be a victim of pickpockets

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    • Thecity is not as attractive as Rio de Janeiro

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    • The hotel infrastructure in Salvador is not as varied as that of Rio de Janeiro

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