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What about Salvador de Bahia carnival

Dernière mise à jour : 29 mars

We were quite hesitant about attending the Salvador carnival. The aspect “biggest street party on the planet” left us cold. But as we managed to find some information, we decided that it was probably worth going to see for a day, or two, if we could get a place at the marina which is located at the foot of two of the three main circuits. Well, in fact, it was amazing! So I give you some tips about it.


It seems that this carnival is the biggest in Brazil, bigger than Rio, but less formal. It attracts several million participants with 85% brazilians and only 15% foreigners. For 4 days and 4 nights it is a street festival rather than a show like in Rio : brazilians prefer to go to Salvador during the carnival and leave Rio to foreigners.

The circuits

There are three main circuits : Barra/Ondina and Campo Grande/Centro are the city's two main carnival circuits. It is here that the large blocos parade and where we find the camarotes, some expensive places with accommodations which allow you to see the blocos pass from a roof without following them. But you can also stay in the streets and do pipoca. Blocos, pipoca: I explain below.

The third one is Batatinha in the historic center.

Batatinha in Pelourinho

This circuit is more family-friendly and close to that of the 18th century: this is where masked carnival characters parade, in the middle of the disguised crowd and drums.

No electric trio here: Salvadoran youth pay homage to their African ancestry by dressing in colorful and traditional African-style clothing, dancing choreographed passages of Afro-Brazilian dance to afoxe rhythms. In addition it joins the Pipoca circuit. As we had no preconceived ideas about this, we were certainly a good audience !

We really loved it !

It doesn't have big elétrico trios but brass bands, small drum troupes, decorated streets, people in costumes.

Several stages where you can dance to live bands. Here are some "real" moments

Barra/Ondina and Campo Grande/Centro circuits: Blocos-trios Electricos and camarotes

We had a little difficulty understanding how it worked, between the circuits, the blocos, pipoca...

An electric trio is a huge sound bus, a sort of mobile platform topped with a brass band, on which the stars of Brazilian music are perched.

The bus makes a circuit in the streets with a whole space behind it. This space is managed by an organization called a bloco. A bloco can manage between 1000 and 8000 people following the truck (security, food, toilets, etc.). A circuit lasts approximately 5 hours. It is as a huge open-air rock or samba concert (day and night) where the stage and the audience would be in motion.

Being in a bloco is the only solution to follow a particular group without being swallowed up by the frenzied carnival masses crowding the sidewalks. On the busiest nights, over a million people are said to be on the streets and when a popular trio passes, those outside their protective cordon become crushed.

To be in a bloco, you have to wear a t-shirt called an abada. that costs about 200 R$. You buy it in January but the problem is that you have to present a CPF (a Brazilian tax number) like for the SIM card and that is complicated for a foreigner. Following a group for 5 hours did not tempt us at all, even if it seems that the atmosphere is great. We don't really like crowds even if the Brazilians are very friendly.

Doing pipoca

So we stayed on the sidewalk while watching the processions go by and we decided to do Pipoca.

Pipoca means popcorn because those who follow the blocks without paying are supposed to pop like popcorn. In fact, people jump and we did too. It is impossible not to do because people are shoulder against shoulder.

This time, we met a lot of young adults, few families, few “old people”. It's very, very different from the Batatinha circuit. Here, huge trucks follow one another approximately every 200m. Initially, the blocks played carnival music, based on “marchas”, but now there is really every sort of music !!!

The energy that emanates from these masses is indeed an experience to live. Our conclusion: the music is deafening and inaudible, the experience incredible... But once is enough!

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