Brazil's Salvador Carnival

Lonely Planet Travel Editor Tom Hall is on a mission to discover 52 of the most awe-inspiring places to visit across the world. February is the month of carnivals - an there is none better than the Salvador Carnival in Brazil.

Salvador Carnival

Rio may be the world’s best-known place to carnival, but in-the-know partygoers head to Salvador. The city’s vibrant Afro-Brazilian heritage ensures that it rocks year-round to the pounding beats of drum corps and sustains a cultural scene that’s unbeatable in South America. You can get a taste by making sure you’re in town for the biggest party of the year.

When is Salvador Carnival?

It’s easy to find Carnival dates online. The event always begins on a Thursday night and ends on Ash Wednesday at dawn. The days and nights in between are one long, electrifying party.

Getting involved is easy. You can watch the goings on from the street, choosing to be pipoca (popcorn) in local slang, follow a trio eletrico (a mobile sound system with a local band playing) or bag a ticket for a camarote, a roped-off, walled area from where you can watch and party in a little more comfort.

As with carnivals everywhere, leave valuables in the hotel and be wary of wandering hands in crowded spots.

What else is there to see in Salvador?

Away from the party, Salavador’s centrepiece is the Pelourinho, a UNESCO World Heritage area packed with colourful colonial buildings and golden churches. Its winding streets and cobbled squares are still vibrant places today and you’ll happen across capoeira and live music while exploring.

This being northeast Brazil, the city has some fine beaches, with less crowded stretches of sand a short bus ride away.

Planning your trip to Brazil

Book flights and accommodation early. The best starting points are the Brazil Tourism website and the Official Carnaval website.

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