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You might remember seeing a beautiful and very colourful scene in the movie, Rio – where lots of people dressed in elaborate costumes were dancing on the roads of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in a parade and having a great time. There were also some beautiful floats with different scenery which were also a part of the parade and everyone looked like they were having one huge street party.  Someone in the movie with a Spanish accent called it “Carnival”. 

What is the ‘Carnival’? The carnival is a huge party celebrated just before the beginning of lent.  Lent is a period of forty days that starts with Ash Wednesday (it fell on February 14 this year), and ends on the Holy Saturday which is the day before Easter. For forty days, Catholic people typically fast, or give up something that means a lot to them. They do this so they can think about how to improve themselves and to show their devotion to God.

When does the Carnival take place? The Carnival usually takes place during springtime in February or early March each year.

Where is it celebrated?  The carnival is celebrated in most countries which have a large catholic population. There is even a bit of a celebration in Goa, India!

Carnival in Goa, India! Photo Credit: Purnima Thacker

Rio de Janeiro is very famous and has one of the biggest annual carnivals from way back in the 1700s. Samba music is at the center of the revelry and the carnival parade draws a crowd of over two million people per day! Samba dancers take part from different dance schools and there is a special order in which they appear in the parade. Besides the parade, there are several balls and parties which take place. Everyone gets dressed up in very fancy colourful costumes, headgear, and masks and jump into the party dancing to the rhythm of the Samba instruments! Check it out!

The carnival also takes place in other Latin American cities as well as many cities across Europe.

No matter where in the world the carnival is celebrated and by what name it’s called the common theme is including everyone in the fun whether they are old or young, rich or poor – the party is open to everyone! 

Written by: Purnima ThackerPurnima is a keen art admirer, nature enthusiast, intellectual property lawyer and mum to a curious 8 year old.


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