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São Paulo Carnival, Brazil

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What is the Carnival of São Paulo?

São Paulo Carnival is a huge celebration held in Brazil, Latin America. Despite not being as famous as the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro or of Salvador, the São Paulo Carnival is as impressive as any other. Hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets of the city to experience one of the biggest parties in all of São Paulo.

The Carnivals in São Paulo are a great conglomerate of events that take place both in the sambadrome of the city and in the streets and on private properties. During the night, the city becomes a great stage where music, dancing and fun are the protagonists. The São Paulo carnival party reflects the great diversity of the city, so there are activities for everyone during the celebration.


In the Official Carnival, the samba schools compete through parades, presenting a different theme which they exhibit through their costumes, dance, music, allegorical floats, while, in the streets, the blocos dominate the festivities with greatmusical events, fun and hundreds of thousands of colorful and fun costumes. The Samba is the star of the party and people never tire of hearing its catchy rhythm.

Carnival is an extravagant party by nature and thecity of São Paulo knows how to celebrate it. Come and enjoy the carnival so you can experience everything from samba songs to colorful shows from start to finish. TheSão Paulo Carnival is definitely a unique and innovative experience that you should not miss for anything in the world.


Schools prepare for months for the day of the São Paulo Carnival Parade

Schools prepare for months for the day of the São Paulo Carnival Parade



When is the Carnival of São Paulo?

The São Paulo Carnival is a traditional celebration, as it is held a few days before the beginning of Christian Lent, between the month of February and the month of March.



History of the Carnivals of São Paulo

Carnivals are a traditionally European festival that arrived in America through the colonists. In the case of Brazil, carnival arrived thanks to the Portuguese. The carnival was practiced as a joke where people threw water and other liquids against each other. In the city of São Paulo the carnival was under the strong influence of populations migrating from the countryside to the city due to the coffee crisis, causing a different celebration from the rest of the country.

Carnival in São Paulo was marked by its own samba which differed somewhat from the city of Rio de Janeiro by a clear difference in the tempo of music. In addition, the samba of São Paulo was decisively influenced by other strongly percussive rhythms, such as the jongo-macumba. As in many cities in Brazil and the world, theSão Paulo carnival began to be strongly punished by the police force. Samba dancers were seen as marginal and harshly persecuted by the authorities.

In 1885 the first parade of the city of São Paulo was held, carried out by the first gremios and groupings. These groupings represented theworking population of São Paulo, developing the samba de São Paulo. However, the carnival demonstrations of the lower classes, especially the black community, were completely ignored and received almost no press coverage.

The tunes present in the São Paulo carnival were integrating new elements such as percussion and wind instruments. Furthermore, several personalities in the Rio de Janeiro carnival industry had influence in the mid-20th century to develop and consolidate the parties in São Paulo..

In the 1940s and 1950s an outstandingproliferation of blocos began to take place, which performed in the streets, giving rise to what is known today as “street carnival“. The next decades were dedicated to the development, proliferation and consolidation of new samba schools, blocos and carnival groups..

Today, the São Paulo Carnival has established itself as one of the largest carnival festivals in the country after the main carnival cities, such as Rio or Salvador.  The Carnival is composed of the parade of samba schools in theAnhembi Sambadrome, club dances and of course, thestreet carnival with the blocos populares.


Where is the São Paulo Carnival

Carnivals are held in São Paulo, thelargest city in Brazil located in the state of the same name.  São Paulo is the economic center of the entire nation. São Paulo was founded in 1554 and has a total area of 1,522 square kilometers, which is home to some 12 million people.

The official Carnival of São Paulo is held at the Sambódromo do Anhembi, while the street carnival and dances take place in the streets and private properties such as restaurants and clubs.


Samba schools participate in the official São Paulo Carnival parade

Samba schools participate in the official São Paulo Carnival parade



How the São Paulo Carnival is celebrated

During the days of celebration, the São Paulo Carnival presents an amalgam of events that occur throughout the city. Although the official and most colorful carnival takes place in the sambódromo, the traditional carnival is in the streets. In addition, the city of São Paulo also has a large amount of dances and private parties in the city’s variousclubs and venues.


Parties in the center

Many bars in São Paulo create special programs for Carnival, these may include samba groups, parties, dances or musical concerts. In addition, the purpose of the parties is to show the other side of the city, to publicize the charming architecture of downtown and to promote the small and medium-sized businesses that mobilize the economy in São Paulo. Keep in mind that many times you must pay an entrance fee to access these events.

Some of the places that promote private events are:

  • Traço da União
  • Bar Samba
  • Ó do Borogodó
  • Bar Brahma
  • Terra da Garoa



Carnival dances in the city have proliferated rapidly, some of them boasting diverse themes, whether erotic, classical or elegant. The dances mainly resemble Venetian dance themes, with masks and privileged settings.

Some dances are exclusive by invitation, while others are held in restaurants and nightclubs, maintaining the themes of classic carnival dances. In addition, dances in discos and nightclubs have also developed.

Venues such as Bar Brahma and Havana Club offer live samba and a host of adult beverages, while The Week club hosts the largest carnival party on the gay and lesbian circuit. Prices to enter these venues range from 50 to 80 reíais.


Samba Schools Parade

Every year, the São Paulo samba schools surprise thousands of people who go to the Sambódromo Anhembi to participate in the Official Carnival of the city. The parades are of a large size, with floats in which hundreds of people can enter, some floats even have columbios to perform themed shows.

The official carnival of São Paulo with the main groups takes place on Friday and Saturday night of Carnival week. During the parades you can watch thousands and thousands of people in the sambódromo performing incredible shows and dances. The scenography of the place is out of this world, with large decorated floats and oversized costumes following a dance theme. In addition, the venue’s music booms from every corner of the city as an alert that the party is already beginning.


Liga Independente das Escolas de Samba de São Paulo Street Carnival

The Liga Independente das Escolas de Samba de São Paulo is an entity that is responsible for managing the schools that perform in the official carnival at the sambadrome. The groups that perform at the sambódromo are divided into two: Grupo Especial and Grupo de Acesso 1 e 2.


Special Group

The special group is composed of the largest and most important samba schools in the city and are the ones who performon the main days. Generally, the proportion of their presentations is extremely remarkable and superior to that of the other category.

Some of the schools that have comprised this category are:

  • Acadêmicos do Tucuruvi
  • Colorado do Brás
  • Green Stain
  • Acadêmicos do Tatuapé
  • Unidos de Vila Maria
  • Dragões da Real
  • Tom Maior
  • Vai-Vai
  • Gaviões da Fiel
  • Águia de Ouro
  • Império de Casa Verde
  • Mocidade Alegre
  • Rosas de Ouro
  • Barroca Zona Sul


Grupo de Acesso

The acess to groups are the lower divisions of the competition, the schools with the largest number of members. The category is divided into other subcategories: group 1 and group 2, both of which are presented on different days.

Some of the schools that have comprised this category are:

  • Morro da Casa Verde
  • X-9 Paulistana
  • Pérola Negra
  • Independente Tricolor
  • Mocidade Unida da Mooca
  • Camisa Verde e Branco
  • Leandro de Itaquera
  • Estrela do Terceiro Milênio
  • Brinco da Marquesa
  • Nenê de Vila Matilde
  • Dom Bosco
  • Primeira da Cidade Líder
  • Unidos do Peruche
  • Camisa 12
  • Unidos de Santa Bárbara
  • Imperador do Ipiranga
  • Torcida Jovem
  • Amizade Zona Leste
  • Uirapuru da Mooca
  • Tradição Albertinense


If an Acesso Group has a presentation stands out for a certain period of time, it can move up in category and become part of the Special Group.


Street Carnival or Blocos

While the official carnival parades are a real treat to watch and are the ones that have been in the media for years, the true spirit ofSao Paulo’s traditional carnival is far removed from the Sambódromo. The streets, squares and avenues of the city become an incredible stage for countless street parties by carnival groups known as “blocos”. These blocos can have a wide range of themes and play funny and satirical songs.

Each bloco follows a similar structure: a rally where all the members and music floats join together, then comes the parade in which people dance through the streets. Finally, the dispersion where the performance finally ends and everyone goes their separate ways or looks for another bloco to participate in.

The blocos can be composed of a large number of people who follow particular musical currents or take part of a determined social sector. Some blocos follow a more traditional theme, while others take on African, Latin or fusion music features.

In the city there are around 400 blocos that actively participate in the festivities, some of these are considered “megablocos”. Megablocos are groups that have consolidated over the years and have hundreds of musicians and hundreds of people who carry out the logistics of their presentations. In addition, these blocos can congregate up to 80 thousand people per presentation.

Some of the best known and most popular Blocos of the festival are:

  • Bloco Acadêmicos do Baixo Augusta
  • Minhoqueens
  • Antiacadêmicos do Baixo Pinheiros
  • Bloco Tarado Ni Você
  • Bloco Sargento Pimenta
  • Bangalafumenga
  • Bangalafumenga
  • Bloco Vou de Táxi
  • Bloco Vou de Táxi
  • Agrada Gregos


Tips for going to the São Paulo Carnivals

If you want to attend the São Paulo Carnival, we recommend you to plan your trip in advance, make a travel itinerary and book the accommodation of your choice in advance. Also, remember to pack comfortable clothes so you can fully enjoy your carnival.

To guarantee the enjoyment of your carnivals, we advise you to purchase your tickets as soon as possible, as they sell out quickly.



You can purchase tickets both online and at the sambadrome’s ticket offices; however, we advise you to purchase them as soon as possible, as sometimes promotions are held or they are much cheaper than on the day of the performances.

In addition, the price of the tickets is strongly influenced by the type of seat or services you wish to purchase. The sambódromo is divided into the following sectors with their respective services.


Sector A

This sector is close to the rally. You can choose the bleachers that cost between 10 or 100 reais, the chairs that of track that cost between 30 and 370 reais or the tables with four places that cost between 160 to 1,540 reais.


Sector B

This sector is in front of the percussion groups. You can choose between bleachers costing between 10 to 160 reais, the chairs on the track from 30 to 550 reais or tables with four places from 160 to 2,000 reais.


Sector C

Bleacher sector on the opposite side to the percussion groups. Prices range from 10 reais on Mondays to 160 reais on Fridays and Saturdays.


Sector D

It is on the opposite side of the drum groups. Benches are priced between 10 reais and 150 reais.



Sector E/F

Sectors E and F are near the dispersion. You can choose from bleachers costing from R$10 to R$90, court chairs between R$30 and R$270 or tables with 4 seats between R$160 to R$1,210.


Sector G

Sector G is on the same side as the percussion. You can choose between bleachers costing between 10 and 90 reais, track chairs between 30 and 370 reais or tables with 4 seats between 160 and 1,480 reais.


Sector H

Sector H is next to the percussion. You can choose between bleachers costing between 10 to 190 reais and tables with 4 places costing between 160 to 2,420 reais.



While costumes are not mandatory if you wish to participate in street carnivals, why not wear them? You are completely free to wear the costume of your choice. If you are not blessed with great creativity, you can buy some costumes in the stores in São Paulo. The stores offer all kinds of costumes and themes.


Events in São Paulo Carnival


Samba school rehearsal

The last rehearsals usually take place at the end of January, which is when the samba schools are in full swing. These rehearsals are the perfect opportunity to get into the carnival mood. Also, they are usuallyfree so you can enjoy a much less magical and colorful show, but you won’t have to pay anything to get in.


Official parade

The official parade has a specific order which is fulfilled every year in the same way. These parades take place in the city’s Sambódromo where each group or samba school presents itself with its respective choreography, floats and musical environment.


Special Group

They perform on Friday and Saturday


Specialty Group 1

Performing on Sunday


Access Group 2

Showing on Monday


Street Carnival

Street carnival can be held for an extended period of time and in various sectors throughout the city and adjacent areas. Because there are a large number of blocos, several of them are presented in a single day, so you will have to decide which one you want to attend.

Some of the locations where the blocos are concentrated are:

  • Vila Mariana
  • Freguesia do Ó
  • Santana
  • Casa Verde
  • Ermelino Matarazzo


Carnival Parties

Like the blocos, these parties occur in the city’s various clubs or restaurants. Some of these feature traditional themes, but in reality the parties can be freely themed. In addition, you must pay admission to get in, and some are so exclusive that you need a personal invitation to get in.

Some of the venues that provide carnival parties in the city are:

  • Traço da União
  • Bar Samba
  • Ó do Borogodó
  • Bar Brahma
  • Terra da Garoa


Dozens of samba schools perform at the official São Paulo Carnival parade

Dozens of samba schools perform at the official São Paulo Carnival parade


São Paulo Carnival Parades

The parades of the São Paulo Carnival take place at the Anhembi Sambadrome. These parades feature the participation of the city’s samba schools and each one performs on a certain day and time depending on which category they are in. Each of the schools has agreat presentation with floats and a multitude of dancers with eccentric costumes. In addition, there is a musical accompaniment.

The presentations at the sambódromo are of extraordinary size, with floats several meters high that can even install swings to perform presentations or perform large constructions. Each of the floats has a fantastic theme that is reflected in the costumes of the participants.


Parade route


The São Paulo Carnival takes place at the city's sambadrome

The São Paulo Carnival takes place at the city’s sambadrome


The parades are held at the Sambódromo Anhembi on Avenida Olavo Fontoura, Santana.


The Coxinha is one of the most popular snacks in Brazil.

The Coxinha is one of the most popular snacks in Brazil.


What to eat at the São Paulo Carnival

One of the dishes you can get in Brazil is the Coxinha. It is a kind of chicken breast pie or croquette. These croquettes are shaped like a drop of water and are breaded and then fried in plenty of oil. These snacks can be found in Brazil as well as in Portugal and are sold on every street corner.

One of the drinks with greater recognition both in the country and abroad is the refresco Guaraná. The soft drink or soda is made with the fruit known as guaraná and has been present in the country since 1905. Although it may not look like it, the drink is not as sweet as the rest of the soft drinks and the flavor is somewhat neutral but delicious at the same time.

The city offers you some places you can visit to broaden your gastronomic experience. Some popular places are: Coco Bambu Analia Franco, Fogo de Chao Vila Olímpia, Tempero das Gerais, Bar da Dona Onca and Fogo De Chao Moema.


Guarana is one of the most popular soft drinks in the country

Guarana is one of the most popular soft drinks in the country



What to see and do inside the São Paulo Carnival

Once inside the carnivals, you have a fairly defined schedule of activities. If you want to be part of the most glamorous and colorful carnivals of the festivities, then your best option is to attend the parades at the sambadrome. However, if you want amuch more street and traditional fun, you can attend the blocos that take place in the streets of the city.

If you decide to attend much quieter celebrations, you can attend the parties and dances that take place in the city’s venues. These dances have a variety of themes, so you have a wide variety to choose from.


What to see and do outside of the São Paulo Carnivals


Ibirapuera Park

It is the most important park in the entire city and is considered the green lung of São Paulo. The entire carnival occupies 158 hectares where there are several statues, obelisks and monuments.


Paulista Avenue

It is the most important avenue of the city where the most renowned companies in the country are located. The avenue extends for almost 3 kilometers, where several consulates, government institutions and tourist attractions are located.


Jardim Botânico de São Paulo

The is a botanical garden that extends for about 360 square meters. The garden was inaugurated in the year 1938 and has thousands of species of orchids, palms, fungi and aquatic palms.


Weather at São Paulo Carnival

During the celebration of Carnival, the city of São Paulo has a somewhat hot weather, with a temperature ranging between 21 and 29 degrees Celsius. We recommend staying hydrated and applying sunscreen frequently.


Thousands of people participate in the São Paulo Carnival parade

Thousands of people participate in the São Paulo Carnival parade



How to get to São Paulo Carnival

The state of São Paulo has 3 main airports: São Paulo International Airport – Governador André Franco Montoro, Viracopos International Airport and Congonhas/São Paulo Airport, being the airport with the best connection the first to be mentioned. From there, you can take any of the means of transportation to reach the city center.


How to get there by bus

From the airport, you can take a Sptrans bus to the city center. The ride is 30 minutes and the fare is US$1.


How to get there by car

From the airport you can take the North-South Corridor to the city center. The trip takes 15 minutes.

If you take a cab, the taxi fare ranges from US$1 to US$2.


How to get around the city



The city’s metro has 5 lines that are marked with different colors. The metro runs through various sectors of the state, from north to south and from east to west.



The bus is the easiest way to get around São Paulo. It is also extremely cheap, so it is a good option if you want to go all over the city.