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Two million people crowd the streets of Salvador during the city’s Carnival, one of the biggest in the country.

Here, the celebration is unlike those in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, which are samba school parades, or those of Olinda (in Pernambuco) and Ouro Preto (in Minas Gerais), in which revelers follow small blocos (carnival groups) playing frevo or marchinhas (Brazilian martial music).

Tourist map of Salvador de Bahia

Tourist map of Salvador de Bahia

Carnival in Bahia draws throngs of dancing celebrants who accompany large trucks with huge amplifiers and movable stages known as trios elétricos. Popular groups sit on the trucks and play axé music, a style that mixes frevo with pop.

The trio elétrico was born in 1950, when guitarist Afonso Antonio do Nascimento, also known as Dodo, and cavaquinho (small four string guitar, like the ukelele) player Osmar Alvares de Macedo, known as Osmar, installed two loudspeakers in an old truck, jumped in the back, and drove around playing their instruments and „electrifying“ the city during Carnival.

The duo was enormously popular. These days, there are three Carnival routes: Avenida, which runs from Campo Grande to Castro Alves Square and then to the end of Rua Carlos Gomes road; Barra/Ondina, which begins at the Farol da Barra lighthouse and ends at nearby Ondina beach; and Batatinha, which cuts through Pelourinho.

In the early hours of Ash Wednesday morning, the great meeting of the trios eletrico5 occurs in Castro Alves Square and in Barra, near the lighthouse. To participate in Carnival celebrations in Salvador you must be prepared for significant pushing and shoving and busy, dirty public toilets.

The most fun is to be had inside the roped-off area around each truck, and getting that close requires buying a ticket package. (The package includes a colorful tabard-style T-shirt, or „abadá“ that serves as a visual ticket that is associated with a particular bloco.). From within the ropes, you’ll be able to see the band close up and will generally have access to a bar, toilets, and medical facilities.

Outside these areas the heaving crowds can be dangerous. VIPs enjoy the festivities from the top of support vehicles or from viewing boxes scattered throughout the city.

An important tip: the most sought-after abadás, such as Camaleão, usually sell out the first day tickets go on sale (Ash Wednesday of the previous year) so planning ahead is crucial.

Carnival in Salvador travel Guide and tourism information – Brazil Travel Guide

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