Latin America's party-loving spirit is famous the world over and the continent offers some of the best fiestas, festivals and spectacles in the world. This is especially the case in Brazil, where barely a week goes by without a celebration. Coincide your Brazil vacation with one of the following events and you'll be sure to take some lasting Brazil travel memories home with you.
Note that these events and many others are immensely popular for domestic and international tourists and you may need to plan ahead since during peak season Brazil hotels and transportation will become booked up well in advance.
From mid to the end of February
Any list of events for a Brazil vacation has to begin with Carnival. While Rio de Janeiro probably springs to mind, it is worth remembering that every city in Brazil celebrates its own version of this traditionally Catholic event.
For those in pursuit of the traditional Carnival, go to where the Brazilians go; Recife or the less commercial festival of Olinda are both popular among Brazilian travelers. Recife, located in the northeastern part of the country, is widely known as the largest Carnival draw in the country. The mainstay of the Recife event is the Galo de Madrugada (Rooster of the Dawn) procession, which is literally as it sounds; a massive procession through the streets of seaside Recife which attracts roughly 2 million international visitors and local revelers alike.
For an 'off the beaten path' Carnival experience, head to the neighboring city of Olinda. Here the main draw is an unorganized celebration of music, where small bands of musicians (followed by dedicated fans of their music) wander the streets of the city and play their music to whoever is available to listen.
A traditional harvest event originally brought to Brazil by Portuguese settlers, this series of street carnivals, picnics and parties are celebrated across Brazil (though are most popular in the northeast) and are a popular escape from the Brazil winter.
Dedicated to Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter and celebrated by rural villages and large cities alike, this month of parties is marked by large bonfires and delicious traditional foods. It is often celebrated in honor of Saint John (the patron saint of a good harvest of corn).
These festivals include the traditional mainstays of games, music, food and costumes and if you take your Brazil vacation sometime in June, you're likely to catch some of the festivities.
Brazilian Grand Prix
Although the demanding Brazilian Grand Prix track at Interlagos, Sao Paolo, is not necessarily the favorite of the drivers; it does have a reputation as an excellent spectator experience. Recognized as a top international draw for the country, thousands flock to Sao Paolo every October for this event, and tickets often sell out weeks in advance.
Even for non-motor sport fans, the electric atmosphere of Sao Paulo for the Grand Prix is an experience you'll never forget and many people make their travel plans specifically for a Brazil Formula 1 vacation.
Festa do Peão Boiadeiro
End of August
Although hundreds of such events are held throughout Brazil, the Festa do Peão Boiadeiro in Barretos is generally accepted to be the world's largest rodeo event of its kind. Begun in 1955 by a group of bachelors, this event moved in 1985 to a massive stadium designed to hold 35,000 people at any one time. Of course marked by the Brazilian trademarks of music, food and fun, this event is a great chance to don those cowboy boots and dig out that hat!
Bom Jesus dos Navegantes
New Year's Day
The usual New Year celebrations are given a novel twist in Salvador de Bahia where Mass is accompanied by an enormous boat parade and procession, part of the four-day-long Bom Jesus dos Navegantes, or "Good Jesus of the Boatmen".
A several-hundred year old tradition in this seafaring community, the celebrations held to bless the boatmen who would be spending extended periods of time at sea. Following Mass, an image of Jesus is carried out onto a flotilla of boats and sailed across the water to a nearby lighthouse.
Be sure to stick about after the procession, as the beach becomes the scene for a lively party which heralds the New Year in a typically Latin style.