SAO PAULO – Sao Paulo is gearing up for Brazil’s most famous street party in a bid to topple Rio de Janeiro, widely considered the most spectacular carnival in the country.
Just days before the start of the samba extravaganza, Sao Paulo’s streets will soon be flooded with Carnaval Blocos (blocks), groups of people dressed in themed costumes in a vibrant musical and dance spectacle.
The nearly 700 blocks that will tour the largest city in the country are expected to attract 15 million people, a record number that would make Sao Paulo the organizer of the largest street carnival in Brazil, despite Rio de Janeiro hosting the most famous display.
This feat seemed unthinkable a decade ago when samba and the rhythms of carnival would rumble far from the financial hub of the country, traditionally more accustomed to hosting conferences than parties.
But the so-called Terra da Garoa (land of drizzle), has shaken off its label of a dull city and in the last five years its streets have been bursting with music and color, something that has placed it as a firm alternative to Rio, affectionately known as the Cidade Maravilhosa (wonderful city).
Sao Paulo’s rise in popularity as one of the most sought after destinations during carnival season is due to a combination of factors, Eduardo Martins, Brazil director for travel website Viajala, told EFE.
The capital has the largest number of flights in Brazil and absorbs most of the country’s business tourism.
The megacity also boasts over 12 million inhabitants, but it isn’t just locals who will flock to the Sao Paolo carnival.
Even Cariocas (Rio de Janeiro natives) have decided to swap their exotic beaches for São Paulo skyscrapers to see what the capital has to offer.
“In Sao Paulo, there is more freedom, I feel less judged and people tend not to care who you are or who you aren’t. That’s why I thought it might be a good option to spend carnival there,” Fellipe Gilard, who for the first time will enjoy carnival in Sao Paulo with six other Rio friends, told EFE.
The intense rivalry between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro will launch a new chapter with carnival as the main protagonist.
A study recently released by online travel agency Decolar placed Sao Paulo as the most sought-after destination for tourists during the iconic celebration, but the Mayor’s Office of Rio de Janeiro hit back with two counter reports.
According to Kayak and Voopter, a Brazilian travel app, Rio de Janeiro continue to be Brazilian’s top choice when it comes to the Samba street party which will launch on Friday.