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Well, Carnaval -- that's an obvious choice (and already covered under "The Most Unforgettable Travel Experiences"). Here are some other favorites:

  • Reveillon/New Year's Celebration (Rio de Janeiro): Close to two million people gather for one of the most spectacular New Year's celebrations in the world. It starts on the evening of December 31 and continues well into the morning of January 1. The main event takes place on Copacabana Beach -- live music, fireworks, and the muted Candomblé religious ceremonies. For details contact Riotur (tel. 021/2217-7575; www.rio.rj.gov.br/riotur) or Alô Rio (tel. 021/2542-8080).

 

  • Washing of the Steps of Bonfim Church (Salvador): One of the most important religious ceremonies in Salvador takes place on the third Thursday of January when hundreds of women in traditional Bahian dress form a procession and carry perfumed water to wash the church steps; 800,000 onlookers and revelers accompany them. For details contact Bahiatursa (tel. 071/3321-2463; www.bahiatursa.ba.gov.br).

 

  • Celebration of Yemanjá, the Goddess of the Sea (Salvador): On February 2, watch the devotees throughout Brazil offer flowers, perfumes, and jewelry to the sea. It's celebrated on the beach with music and food. The largest celebration takes place in Salvador on Praia Vermelha. For details contact Bahiatursa (tel. 071/3321-2463; www.bahiatursa.ba.gov.br).

 

  • The Passion Play (Nova Jerusalem, near Recife): South America's largest passion play takes place at Nova Jerusalem, just outside of Recife in the Northeast of Brazil. Performances are daily in the 10 days leading up to Easter. For details contact Recife Tourist Information (tel. 081/3462-4960 or 3341-6090).

 

  • Bumba-meu-boi (São Luis): A party that gets the whole city involved, the bumba-meu-boi is a fascinating folk festival centered around the story of a bull that gets killed and resurrected. The festivities take place over several months as there are several stages to each part of the story. Contact the São Luis Tourist Office for details on what happens when (tel. 081/3462-4960).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.