Best cities to spend Carnival in Pernambuco

Arts & Culture

Free and open to all, it is a street party to which everyone is invited to jump in.

The biggest Brazilian party arrives! Carnival is the most awaited month for many Brazilians. The Carnival in Pernambuco is not like any other in Brazil. Free and open to all, it is a street party to which everyone is invited to jump in.
Stages and performance centres are erected all over the State of Pernambuco, with regional and national artists and musicians offering free shows to everybody.
People have the opportunity to experience the vibrant spirit of the Carnival by participating whole-heartedly rather than just watching from the sidelines.
The diversity of cultural expressions of Pernambuco can be seen during the famous Carnival. Held in February or March , the revelry takes place in 18 cities in the whole state.
For those who want travel to Pernambuco to enjoy the parties, My Guide Recife makes a list of the 10 best cities to spend the carnival in the state.


Is the birthplace of the country´s most irreverent version of Carnival. The Unesco World Heritage Site is linked to festivities.  At the sound of frevo orchestras, the revelers go up and down the slopes following the giant dolls. The steep slopes of the old town are filled with bustling crowds of frolickers, merry makers, fantasy costumes, music, dance, giant dolls and heaps of cultural diversity for all-comers. People from all over the world arrive to participate in the City's famous annual Carnival festival. Many people rent their homes for groups of revelers that literally move to the town during the party, in order to do not miss a moment celebration. The giant papier-mâché puppets or Bonecos Gigantes are equally popular and can be seen marching all through the Carnival week. 



Located in central Northeast Brazil, which is closest to Europe, Recife and the State of Pernambuco have everything to make them one the country's most interesting place to visit during the carnival. Is one of the biggest events with over 1.5 million people joining in six straight days and nights of revelry. The actual festival starts at dawn with trumpets announcing the “Galo da Madrugada”, the largest parade of the world, the main attraction along with hundreds of thousands of people in their outrageous costumes. The fun continues throughout the city, making Carnival the largest and most popular party of Pernambuco.

You will find several people dressed up as celebrities, so don’t be surprised to see Michael Jackson, Bob Marley or Frankenstein waving to the crowds. The party begins in January, with the rehearsal of blocks and previews parties.


Beautiful by nature and known for its cultural wealth, Bezerros, 107 km from Recife, offers amazing attractions during the carnival. It is famous for its unique form of festival, the carnival of Papangus, which involves the use of elaborate masks. The city’s location is strategic, between Gravatá and Caruaru, two major tourist centers.

Bezerros party occupies the 3rd place in the ranking of the most popular Carnival all over the state of Pernambuco. Known as the "Folia do Papangu", Bezerro's Carnival is the busiest in the Agreste region and the only with a theme namely, papangus in Brazil. The city has been for years contributing towards the preservation of our most authentically carnival traditions.

The towns carnival is one of the largest and most important in the interior, begins ten days before the main festivities with the carnival group called the “Waking up of the Calves, dressed in pajamas and carrying dolls, revelers join an improvised dance through the streets in the early hours of the morning.


Known as the “city of flowers” and the “Switzerland of Pernambuco”, among other titles that makes reference to the salient features of the city. 230 km far from the capital, Garanhus founded seven years ago an option for those who want a quieter alternative fun during the Carnival.

The "Garanhuns Jazz Festival" promotes shows with important national and international jazz and blues names, in addition to cultural workshops. This alternative festivity has attracted more and more people who seek for tranquility in the days of revelry. The event brings free concerts, master classes (for adults and children) and other attractions. But of course, since this is Brazil and not Montreux, later on the party you're liable to hear pretty much every rhythm the crowd asks for. The festival of this year will be in honor of the singer, songwriter and accomplished accordionist José Domingos de Moraes, Dominguinhos, who died last year. All presentations will be entirely free.


Is located 210 km far from Recife.  Guardian of the Shire of Our Lady of Grace, the city is also famous for producing the renaissance lace. Other attractions are its ancient houses, mountains, waterfalls, nature trails and the Caiporas in Carnival time.

The carnival is marked by Caiporas. According to popular lore, the character came from the legend of supernatural torches that appeared over the trees, scaring the hunters of the municipality.

During the carnival, the revelers and the irreverent characters appeared in the streets dressed in colorful coats and bags in tow head. Besides Caiporas, national artists will play during the four days of revelry. The diversity of cultural expressions of Pernambuco can be seen during this Carnival. 


Is located in the hinterland region, 445 km far from the capital. In the city of Triunfo, the carnival has the trademark of the masks. This party is recognized for its creativity and relaxation. Monday is the day when masked merry-makers go out. The treca, name of the blocks of caretas, fill the city of color and joy.

The masked represent the main character of the carnival for more than 90 years; the city is invaded by these characters during the whole week, giving color and much animation for revelers. Every year, the top faces are awarded in a competition, so the costumes try to become more creative every time.

Parades of street blocks are offered in a preview-carnival week to go warming the climate of the city. Besides the fun, the carnival also features blocks frevo, processions of groups of popular culture, music shows and the traditional bath on the Lake João Barbosa. 


Located 60 km away from Recife, Nazaré da Mata, it has in “maracatu” its biggest cultural manifestation. The town has beautiful mills, where one may see the manufacture of rapadura, brown sugar and mill honey. Also is home of the rural tourism. The town’s craftwork is much diversified, with highlights to embroideries and confection of carnival pieces and accessories, such as the collars of the caboclos de lança and the cockades of the caboclinhos.

During the carnival the city becomes a stage for the greatest meeting of maracatus, which attracts many fans and revelers during Carnival. There are over 50 groups of players who fill the Parque dos Lanceiros with the colors, animation and shine of all beauty of their kings, queens, and cablocos de lança.

Besides the day of the meeting, in Nazaré da Mata carnivals not stop there. Important artists pass through the stage of the town and also on city streets. The animation groups like Block Alligator, which crosses the city during the four days of revelry, dragging more than 10 thousand people per day. 

Nazaré da Mata

Located between the coastline and the wilds, the region was chosen by the colonizers for the planting of sugarcane. Gathering African, native Indian slaves, and Portuguese colonizers, the region a large cultural coiler where some manifestations, were born.  Also you can find a varied craftwork, with wood, leather clay and fabric parts, in addition to tapestry, internationally known due to its originality and beauty.

The city is 53 km far from Recife and is known for "bicharada" a traditional parade that makes reference to animals. Is one of the most irreverent and traditional festivities in the state of Pernambuco. Many revelers using customs of animals like camels, giraffes, lions, zebras, bulls, bears and even swans enjoy the party.

In addition, more than 100 associations between blocks, mockeries and club floats, make the delight of locals and tourists that also playing the carnival in town.  

Vitória de Santo Antão

Is the largest city in the Sertão of Pernambuco and offers many other attractions in addition to wine tourism. Walks by the river São Francisco show stunning sights, such as islands, river beaches and rapids.

The Carnival of Petrolina grows every year. The event brings together groups of popular culture throughout the state, with six days of festivities, frevo, forró, maracatu, lyrics and blocks. The program includes the performing of several local artists.

The original Samba is a tradition of folk culture of the town and is present in the local festivities, bringing a bit secular roots of Indians and Africans. It’s one of the most multicultural Carnivals, which best represents Brazil’s cultural mix.