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Carnival in South America

Carnival season in South America is just around the corner and with the party atmosphere running from late January to early March. There’s no better way to celebrate the start of the new year than by attending Carnival in South America. It’s the only way to make the most of the warm summer months in the southern hemisphere.

Rio de Janeiro is the hub of all Carnival festivities and is has the most elaborate Carnival South America has to offer. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty more celebrations to enjoy.

What You Need to Know About Carnaval, South America

To anybody that hasn’t yet attended Carnaval in Latin America, the celebration is often a mystery. Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions about the vibrant celebration.

Carnaval or Carnival?

Also spelled Carnaval (in Portuguese), there are a number of Carnival celebrations taking place throughout the continent with each country and city providing a slightly different experience. But there’s one thing they all have in common. South American Carnivals all have the same party spirit and good energy.


Dancer at the Carnival, source

Who Celebrates Carnival?

Where is Carnival celebrated? Celebrations are held in countries throughout South America but the main Carnival takes place in Rio de Janeiro. However, you’ll also find wonderful celebrations in countries such as Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Which City in South America has the Biggest Carnival in the World?

If you’re not looking to attend any old South American Carnival, but the biggest and the best of the bunch, then Rio de Janeiro is the place to be. Its celebrations continue for months, and although the carnival is only officially a few days long, the electricity and build-up can be felt in the air long before and long after the celebrations.

The costumes and floats are elaborate, to say the least, and thousands of dollars are poured into this short space of time. This makes it a celebration to rival the world’s best.

Best Places to Celebrate Carnival in South America

From Rio and Salvador de Bahia to Colombia’s Caribbean Coast…wherever you decide to spend Carnival in Latin America, you’ll be sure to experience a noisy, energetic, vibrant, colorful and unforgettable celebration of local music, dance, culture and traditions.

Rio Sambadrome at Carnival

Don’t miss out on soaking up the Carnival atmosphere in South America / Source

Rio Carnival: The Greatest Show on Earth

The Rio Carnival is without a doubt the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ with more than 2 million people on any one day celebrating this extravagant and colorful party. The official celebrations last for 5 days but the build-up and after-party last for the better part of 2-3 months. Rio’s Carnival is a once in a lifetime experience.

You can expect to see Samba dancers making their way through the streets with colorful plumes of feathers decorating their bodies. Elaborately decorated floats ride through the streets while carnival watchers sing and celebrate in unison. It’s an incredible spectacle to be a part of.

Not only are the streets vibrant with the sounds of celebration, but the beaches and the luxurious Copacabana Palace are alive with joyful festivities too. Read more about celebrating Carnival in Rio de Janeiro…

Rio Carnival

Being at the Rio Carnival is a once in a lifetime experience / Source

Salvador de Bahia Carnival Celebrations

Salvador de Bahia in northern Brazil is the heart of the country’s Afro-Brazilian culture and there is no getting away from the African infusion and influence that is so deeply ingrained in Brazilian culture. Carnival has adopted these samba rhythms, extravagant costumes and breath-taking parades.

Salvador de Bahia has a distinctly African feel which is an interesting change from the cultures of South America. If you’ve already been to the Rio de Janeiro Carnaval then this is a great option as it has a slightly different flavor. Read more about celebrating Carnival in Salvador de Bahia…

Salvador de Bahia Carnival

Watch the Carnival parade up close in the streets of Salvador de Bahia / Source

Brazil’s Popular Carnival in Ouro Preto

Located a 5.5-hour drive north of Rio de Janeiro is the UNESCO Historic Town of Ouro Preto in the region of Minas Gerais. This is one of the fastest-growing Carnival celebrations in Brazil with more and more travelers soaking up the beauty of this town before enjoying the lively atmosphere of Carnival.

This South America Carnaval is mainly attended by a younger crowd. This is because the town is surrounded by universities. For this reason, the celebrations continue all night. So if you’re up for all night of partying and fun, this may just be the Latin American Carnival for you. Read more about celebrating Carnival in Ouro Preto…

Carnival in Ouro Preto

The Carnival in Ouro Preto has become more popular in recent years / Source

Colombia’s Incredible Carnival in Barranquilla

Outside of Brazil, there is really only one place that should be on your Carnival-radar…the Barranquilla Carnival in Colombia! Situated on Colombia’s Caribbean coastline, Barranquilla offers a paradisiacal Carnival experience and an unrivaled peek into Colombia’s Caribbean culture and traditions.

Barranquilla’s Carnival is regarded as one of the largest in the world, only behind Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia. To give you some perspective on just how incredible this celebration is, it received UNESCO honor as a World Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Now that’s really saying something. It’s a party that can rival the world’s best, but that being said, it is deeply rooted in the traditions of its past. So you’ll have a cultural experience above all else. If you’re looking for South America Carnivals outside of Brazil, Colombia’s Carnival in Barranquilla should be your celebration destination. Read more about celebrating Carnival in Barranquilla…


Barranquilla Carnival in Colombia

Discover the magic of Colombia’s Carnival in Barranquilla / Rewriting the Map/Emanuel Echeverri

Wrapping Up Carnival, Latin America

Celebrating Carnival in South America is truly an indulgence of all your senses. It’s the experience of a lifetime and sure to leave you gushing about the incredible time that you had. If you’re ready for a party as well as a cultural experience like no other, book a tour to the best Carnivals in South America.

Thanks for visiting our Central & South America Travel Blog! Feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or contact one of our Travel Specialists via email, phone or chat to plan your perfect Carnival trip to South America.

Thanks for visiting our Central & South America Travel Blog! Feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or contact one of our Travel Specialists via emailphone or chat to plan your perfect Carnival trip to South America.