Saturday, 19 November 2016

What you need to know about carnival in Brazil

Brazil, and more particularly Rio de Janeiro, has been all the rage recently, hosting both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. 

My only previous experience in Brazil was decades ago, but it was enough for me to put it on my "no need to visit again" list. 

That said, I know many people who want to go, including some whose samba-soaked bucket lists include visiting the Rio Carnival, which is just around the corner, running from February 24-March 1 2017. 



The carnival is a mega party to end all parties and it is held not only in Rio but in just about every city across Brazil. Millions of locals and around 500,000 tourists will revel in non-stop music, dance and parades.

Carnival's vibrant atmosphere draws thousands of fun-loving Aussies each year and local tourism authorities have issued their top six tips for getting the best of both Brazil and carnival. Take them as you wish; I'd rather be having a quiet glass of pinot noir on the back porch than risk being mugged or drugged. These are their words, not mine. 

1. Join the celebrations

Rio is regarded as the epicentre of Brazilian carnival excess, but all kinds of celebrations occur nationwide throughout the five-day festival. Allow time during your stay to visit other towns and villages such as Recife, Salvador, São Paulo and Ouro Preto, and you’ll be rewarded with a delightful insight into amazing regional culture, food and music.



2. Plan early

Book your accommodation as soon as you know your travel dates to avoid missing out on your preferred location. There is a wide range of options available, ranging hotel rooms to apartments to backpacker hostels. Prices fluctuate during busy periods like carnival but often the earlier you book, the better the rate.

One of the best-known features of carnival is the beautiful, elaborate costumes. If  you are keen to get your sparkle on by purchasing or hiring an outfit for the festival, again it pays to plan ahead. There are plenty of online options, just make sure you give the supplier accurate measurements.


3. Carnival continues 24/7

Sleep becomes a rare commodity during Carnival, for locals and visitors alike. Particularly in the cities but also some rural areas, you can expect street celebrations to run all day every day, with several thousands of people yelling, whistling, singing and dancing their way to no specific destination.

The cacophony of samba beats, laughter and singing may make sleep difficult, but instead of trying to avoid it, do what the locals do and embrace it - you’ll soon find their energy and enthusiasm is contagious. Boost your energy with smoky barbecued meats and refreshing caipirinha cocktails.

A great way to enjoy a change of pace and escape the commotion of blocos (street parties) is to head to the beach. Whilst the high profile sands of Ipanema and Copacabana may be crowded, there are plenty of lower-key options.



4. Check your driver’s licence

If you’d like to experience Brazil and carnival by car and hold a current Australian driver’s licence, you’ll be allowed to drive in Brazil provided your stay is less than 180 days. If you plan to stay longer, you’ll need to obtain an equivalent Brazilian licence. Check the validity of your licence and identity documents like passports before you travel, to ensure they will be current during your stay. 

5. Money

Whilst there are plenty of places to exchange currency and travellers' cheques in Brazil, it’s helpful to purchase some Brazilian money (known as the Real R$) before you depart Australia, so you’re free to make purchases as soon as you arrive. 

Once you’ve settled in, you can arrange additional local currency through most banks, travel agencies and authorised hotels. Most of the restaurants and shopping malls accept credit cards and you can withdraw money at most ATMs with your Australian
bank cards. 


6. Visas (surely this should have been No.1?) 

Australians visiting Brazil for carnival are required to have a tourist visa. This is not a complex process. You can lodge your application in person or by mail with the Embassy of Brazil in Canberra or the Consulate-General of Brazil in Sydney.

Applications in person require an appointment; tourist visas, when requested in person, are usually processed by the next working day. 

For more details visit

http://visit.rio/en/welcome/


http://www.visitbrasil.com/

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