DMC & Incoming Tour Operator to Brazil and all of South America BIT 25 Years

What is Carnival?

Carnival is an exuberant celebration of the carnal sins, as its Latin name suggests (carni=meat, val=galore). This developed due to the Italian church's rule of demanding celibacy for 40 days before lent. What's the natural thing to do when you know you are going to starve?


That's right, to stuff your self! Carnival started in Florence, Italy and was soon picked up by the Portuguese living in Brazil centuries ago. 

The Florentine feasts involved masks to keep party goers identity and reputation intact. The feather costumes were influenced by the Brazilian natives and the drums from the African slaves. Mix it all up, and never stop, and you get a 200 year tradition involving all the senses for the 5 days before ash Wednesday. (Text from the guide Rio for Partiers)


The world's second largest party takes place in Rio, losing only to Salvador's carnival, which tops 2 million people on two avenues for 6 consecutive days. Rio gets packed with tourists from around Brazil and abroad, and the upper class residents leave to celebrate elsewhere, usually Buzios, Angra or Salvador. 

A general explosion of joy. The most important and bigger popular festival that mixes emotions, creativity, plasticity, colors, sounds and many costumes. Unique records of the melting pot that is Brazilian culture. The moment comes when all participants are the protagonists of their own play, costume, plot, and samba. This is carnival year after year.

Carnival, as spelled in Portuguese, is a 4-day celebration. It starts on Saturday, and ends on Fat Tuesday or Mardi gras. Dates change every year.

Little need be said about Carnival in Rio; the samba school parade is world famous and everyone has seen pictures in magazines and on television.

Every year, Rio hosts the world's largest festival - Carnival. Many pre-Carnival festivities begin earlier, while the closing event - the Parade of the Champions - is on Saturday.

The official opening is, when the Mayor hands over the keys of the City to Carnival King Momo and his Queen. This is the kick-off for festivities that dance through the streets all over town, highlighted by parades, contests and balls.

Downtown, the Sambodrome opens its gates to the Samba School parades, beginning with Group B Samba Schools on Friday. Saturday is set aside for Group A - the second highest ranking, with the champion and runner-up promoted to the Major League next year. Sunday and Monday are the Major Samba School parades in the Special Group, while Tuesday sees the Junior Samba Schools. Balls take place every night throughout the week, together with a variety of costume contests.

During this period, hotels in Rio work only with package bookings and pre-payment.


When is Carnival? One of the most frequent questions we hear is “what is the date of Carnival this year?”. Well, believe it or not, it is not an easy question to answer. You have to be part astrologer, part mathematician, and part priest!

Here is how you calculate the Carnival date: 50-47 days before the first Sunday after the first full moon after Vernal Equinox, or in layman’s terms, Ash Wednesday is calculated as 46 days before Easter Sunday, and Carnival falls on the 4 days before Ash Wednesday. Complicated, no?


To make things easier, please find below Brazil Carnival Calendar up to 2020:

  •    2015 - February 13th until February 18th
  •    2016 - February 05th until February 10th
  •    2017 - February 24th until March First
  •    2018 - February 09th until February 14th
  •    2019 - March 1st until March 6th
  •    2020 - February 21th until February 26th