A multifaceted world of sensation, blending together festivals whose origins can be traced back not just to different centuries but to the different religions and peoples of disparate continents, once vast distances apart – Carnival in Brazil is unique among the world’s great cultural phenomena: a mosaic of infinite variety, a window onto the nation’s cultural heritage, an invitation to venture into an astounding, overwhelming explosion of authenticity.  Every participant creates their own Carnival world, their own private Land of Cockaigne, Arcadia, Passárgada: each vision glimpsed in this dizzying kaleidoscope as ephemeral as the shared spirit of Carnival is eternal.
Plunging into a polyhedron of sensation: the beauty of the arrangements, the symmetry of their coordination – groups gathering together and suddenly transforming people into a thousand spinning peacocks, into mirages, clouds, great constellations of stars or flights of rare birds glittering in the limelight. Bahians whirling in white, red and yellow dresses; sauntering mestizas; carnival dancers; capering buffoons – all reflected in the shining eyes of the children, dark as plums.
Immersed in a multifaceted world, vision dissolves and resolves again; the camera recreates and paints a vast canvas with an infinite palette of colours.
Rio de Janeiro becomes the setting for the world’s greatest festival in Carnival time, with an explosion of beauty almost impossible to describe, striving tirelessly to outdo itself and exceed the farthest limits of imagination, year after year.
There are no words that can convey what your heart feels when it beats amidst the crowds experiencing the greatest spectacle on earth: the parade of the escolas de samba along the Avenida Marquês de Sapucaí – the so-called “Sambadrome” – with troupes of dancers as numerous as an army and as highly-trained, able to portray entire histories – whether the lives of individuals or of nations – in dance and spectacle.

The Maracatu rural or Maracatu de baque-solto – the rural or “loose-beat” maracatu. This is one of the most beautiful expressions of Brazil’s popular culture and folklore, a carnival-festival-celebration unique to the Atlantic coastal region of Pernambuco. Groups come from villages far and near to gather in the courtyard shrines of the larger townships, in a festival that explodes into the world on Carnival Sunday when the maracatu troupes set out, each one led by a standard-bearer and each with its own distinctive designs and formation; over a hundred people moving to the same beat, keeping alive the flame of ancestral traditions, revels and songs.
To be a standard-bearer is far more than just a leading role in the festivities, for it comes with the responsibility to help maintain, clothe and feed all the caboclos de lança and the caboclos de pena – spear-bearers and feather-clad dancers, warriors in all their splendour – and the baianas who, together with the traditional characters of King, Queen, Catirina, Mateus and Catita, go to make up the troupe.
Carnival celebrations are many and varied, but there is none like that of Pernambuco – a street celebration that belongs to the people. The entire neighbourhood is filled with maracatu groups, carnival troupes or blocos, frevo clubs, troça bands of jesting revellers, the caboclinhos (crews of dancers in indigenous dress), the music of the afoxé gourds, displays of capoeira, giant effigies over 2 metres high, the masked and costumed papangus of Bezerros, a town in the harsh part of Pernambuco … all representing the traditions of a combined white, black and Indian heritage that lies at the heart of the Brazilian people and their culture.
Carnival in Bahia is one of the warmest and liveliest in Brazil, or indeed among the greatest popular festivals anywhere in the world. Its heart lies in the city of Salvador, where the carnival circuits are held.
One of the unique features of Carnival here in the capital of Bahia, where some seventy percent of the population is black, is the presence of Afro-Brazilian groups such as Ilê Ayê, the Filhas de Oxum (Daughters of Oxum), the Olodum group and Timbalada. Others include the Filhos de Gandhi (Sons of Gandhi), also known as O Tapete Branco da Bahia, the White Carpet of Bahia.
The crowds number in the millions – here leaping in celebration to a favourite trio eléctrico, there wandering at their ease from band to band – ebbing and flowing and overflowing with exuberance for many days and nights.