Author: Josh Lew
Brazil's Carnival is one of the most famous parties in the world. Though the festivities do not begin until February, it's best to plan your escape to Carnival early.
Of course, the mother of all carnival parties is in Rio de Janeiro. There is, quite literally, people dancing in the streets. The famed Sambodromo is where to see the never-ending parade of floats anddancers. Tickets to this event can be a bit expensive, if you want to get close up. However, the best atmosphere may be in the nosebleed section. If you plan early enough, you can be more than a spectator. Many of the samba schools that march in the parade allow tourists to join them (for a price, of course).
What many people don't know, is that carnival happens all over Brazil. Yes, the biggest and most raucous party is in Rio, but little known cities like Recife hold their own.
Recife's old harbor neighborhood also hosts people partying in its narrow streets where the colonial architecture makes for the perfect setting to watch the passing of music schools for various traditional rhythms every night of Carnival and during the four weekends prior to the official holiday… Those celebrating in their costumes, jumping and dancing in a multiplicity of blocos among the giant dolls and water wars literally take over the hills where tourists rent the houses of the residents who make space and some extra income.
Salvador, the capital of Brazil's Northeast, celebrates carnival with a heavy African influence. Visitors will feel the drum beats in their chests as they pass the large mobile stages, which are set up around town. Impromptu concerts and the inevitable dancing in the streets that comes with them give Salvador a happy-go-lucky feel.