South America is famous for many things but no other event attracts visitors quite like Carnival. This pre-Lent party is most famous in Brazil, where festivities in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo reach legendary proportions. Plenty of other South American cities get into the spirit of Carnival as well, making a trip to countries like Colombia or Paraguay during Carnival an equally enticing prospect. Wherever you end up, make sure to put your dancing shoes on and experience the best of South America's Carnival festivities!
Big in Brazil
Brazil is undoubtedly home to South America's most raucous Carnival celebrations, with Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo the two epicentres for week-long street parties and parades. Both cities play host to a famous Sambadrome – purpose-built viewing areas where spectators watch for hours as a mass of colourfully-clad dancers saunter by. Brazil practically stops during Carnival season as whole cities transform into a sea of non-stop revellery, making Carnival one of the best reasons to visit this absorbing nation.
Carnival has existed in Colombia in one form or another for hundreds of years. Introduced by the Spanish colonialists who first settled this multicultural country in the 1500s, today Carnival is celebrated by millions of Colombians all over the country. One of South America's largest Carnival celebrations takes place in the Caribbean port city of Barranquilla, where locals mix a range of Spanish, African and indigenous traditions to form a uniquely Colombian take on festivities.
Paraguay's prolonged parade
Paraguay's Carnival celebrations may not be the most famous in South America, however the Carnaval Encarnaceno in the border town of Encarnación is certainly the longest. At an energy-sapping 22-days long, the Carnaval Encarnaceno is more a marathon than a sprint but plenty of visitors venture across the Paraná River from neighbouring Argentina and beyond to partake in the revellery. These days Encarnación is a hub of Paraguayan tourism, with the popular waterfront city flooded with party-goers each year as soon as Carnival rolls around.