Olinda and Carnival


LOCATION This double carnival extravaganza is based in Recife and nearby Olinda, on the northeast coast of Brazil

WHEN Both carnivals take place in mid- to late February, but sometimes run into March

ORIGINS First held by the Portuguese in the 16th century

POPULATION Olinda: 380,000; Recife 1.5 million

People come from far and wide to attend these two neighboring carnivals, which each have their own distinctive character. Olinda Carnival, which is the third-largest in Brazil after Rio and Salvador, attracts scores of local artists who spend all year preparing for a procession of 560 unusually creative blocos (parades), including colorful transvestite dancing groups. Carnival in Recife, which is just 30 minutes away by bus, is a much smaller affair.

At this event, once the Carnival King and Queen are crowned, the focus is on parades of trio eléctricos (trucks with stereos and stages for live bands). Both events boast constant music, flowing beer, fabulous costumes, and atmospheric, thronging crowds.

Thousands of carnival-goers crowd a bridge in Recife, Brazil
Thousands of carnival-goers crowd a bridge in Recife, Brazil

Practical Information

Getting There and Around Unless you’re already in northeast Brazil, it’s best to fly directly to Recife International Airport. From here, Olinda is 30 minutes by taxi or bus, and Recife city center is only a few minutes’ drive.

Daytime Temperature 86°F (30°C) during carnival.

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