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Carnival of Bahia, the biggest party in the world

Salvador de Bahía Special Guide. 18-Oct-2010 .Traveler Oliveira
Carnival of Salvador de Bahia, the largest popular festival in the world

Rio de Janeiro has the largest and most important carnival in the world, that is indisputable, but the Bahia carnival, without a doubt, is the biggest popular festival that exists: there can be 2 million people dancing in its streets at the same time to the rhythm of the bands and the most important soloists of Bahia, the party is constant and exceeds everything known in the field of outdoor fun, day and night.

Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía desde un camarote en Barra
Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía desde un camarote en Barra
photo by sameffron - CC 2.0 by-sa

The Axé is the main music of the Bahian carnival, its most famous hits sprout from the electric trios , true traveling scenarios that move through the main streets of the city in different circuits pre-established: Barra-Ondina(or Dodô ), between the beaches of Barra and Ondina ; the Osmar circuit, between Campo Grande and downtown, and the Batatinha circuit in the streets of Pelourinho .

Trio eletrico en Carnaval de Bahía
Trio eletrico en Carnaval de Bahía
photo by agecombahia - CC 2.0 by

The trucks with their scenarios are followed by crowds and those who wish to have access to surround them must pay their abadás , expensive identification shirts, which in 2011, will come even with embedded chip to identify their owners and avoid fakes.

Carnaval en el Pelourinho - Salvador de Bahía
Carnaval en el Pelourinho - Salvador de Bahía
photo by agecombahia - CC 2.0 by

Another option to enjoy the carnival of Salvador de Bahia are the so-called cabins, a kind of discs installed on the side of the avenues overlooking the party, in general you pay for an open bar service, or unlimited access to all types of drinks , usually concentrate thousands of people inside and the price, depending on the circuit and the cabin, ranges between 200 and 400 reais.

Bahianas desfilando en el Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía
Bahianas desfilando en el Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía
photo by sfmission com - CC 2.0 by

Circuits of the Carnival of Bahia

The most important circuit of the Bahia Carnival is the so-called Dodô circuit, also called the Barra - Ondina circuit, since it runs along the coast of Barra beach to the beginning of Ondina beach( See in satellite map ) in this circuit are usually the most famous artists and the most important staterooms , such as those of Gilberto Gil and Daniela Mercury.

Enter Campo Grande ( View on satellite map ) and Praça da Sé(historic center), the oldest of Bahian carnivals happens , the Osmar(or Campo Grande) circuit was later losing attraction with the appearance of the circuit between the beaches of Barra and Ondina.

The Batatinha circuit is a more alternative circuit, it happens in the Pelourinho (and/or between the Praça da Sé and the Plaza Castro Alves in the center) and has as main music the percussions of the > Blocos Afros and not so much axé, the carnival takes place both in the streets, as in the squares(Terreiro de Jesus mainly) and semi-closed properties of the Pelourinho , such as the Tereza Batista center, the music is more varied than in the other circuits and can include(besides percussion groups) samba, reggae and even pop.

Security at Salvador's carnival

If we are not going to buy the access to one of the cabins, which is a closed option and obviously safer to spend the carnival, we are not in a position to pay the fortunes that the abadás cost to follow the trios eletricos , we must pay attention to avoid surprises in the popular carnival.

Bearing in mind that the Salvador de Bahía Carnival is possibly the largest public gathering of people in a public space that exists in the world, so as not to have bad moments, the basic thing in these cases is not to show off, this will not prevent them from realizing that we are foreigners, but at least we will not be calling so much attention to possible ill-intentioned individuals. It is also advisable to avoid any possible conflict with strangers and, in case of finding too alcoholic and aggressive people nearby, look for another place to follow the carnival because the possibility of fights is such cases is imminent, and in fights it is known that there is who take advantage for the outbursts.

At the Bahia carnival, if we do not pay for a cabin or abadá (which, as we saw, it is usually quite expensive), we are left out of the laces that are posted by security employees of the trios electricos , we will be in full party surrounded by thousands of unknown people and sometimes among the crowds of the carnival usually happens a type of collective robbery called arrastao , generally featuring bands of underage boys who are grouped to raze what they find as fast as they can and escape the reach of the police: the ideal then is to pay attention to those around us, and not put at risk things of value.

It is also recommended to take only the necessary money, calculating what will be spent for the night and/or day, and take care of access to pockets and wallets.

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Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía desde un camarote en Barra
Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía desde un camarote en Barra
Trio eletrico en Carnaval de Bahía
Trio eletrico en Carnaval de Bahía
Carnaval en el Pelourinho - Salvador de Bahía
Carnaval en el Pelourinho - Salvador de Bahía
Bahianas desfilando en el Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía
Bahianas desfilando en el Carnaval de Salvador de Bahía

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