Brazil 11 days - February 5-15 2013
Recife is the state capital of Pernambuco. Although it's one of the largest cities in Brazil, with nearly two million inhabitants, it has the spirit of a big village which is why it's our preferred destination for a Brazilian carnival trip. This area saw much more contact than other parts of the country between native Indians, black slaves and Portuguese and Dutch settlers making for a fruitful cultural mix in Recife and throughout the state. Although a big city, Recife, like any Brazilian city of note, has its beaches situated right in town. Boa Viagem is perhaps the most famous stretch of sand, and recognised as one of the most famous urban beaches in Brazil.
(c) Alex Robinson
Carnival in Recife is very different to carnival in Rio, with its world-famous samba schools, and Salvador, with the emphasis on the axe rhythms. In Recife it's less commercial, more accessible and there are rhythms galore: frevo, caboclinho, coco, rock, mangue beat, the native Indian and African maracatu, ciranda, and reggae, as well as samba. In Recife the music is out on the streets - often more than a hundred artists performing live on stages set up downtown and in most areas of the city.
In neighbouring Olinda the music is also literally in the streets, between the houses. Recife Antigo - the old town - is where you will find the most authentic performances, the most exciting atmosphere The event not to miss takes place in the early hours of Saturday morning when the Galo da Madrugada - the Rooster of the Dawn - takes place: a parade-cum-party in the centre of town with a giant statue of a rooster leading the way and perhaps over two million partygoers joining in. There are parading bands and nearly 40 trios electricos performing along the four kilometres of downtown streets.
Carnival in Rio is these days more about show business; Salvador is more authentic; but carnival in Recife and Olinda is notable for the variety of sounds and is almost totally a local affair. Local bands - the blocos - move at random throughout the city; often consisting of less than ten players and sometimes coming together as a performing group for only one carnival. It's fun to move between the carnival in Recife and neighbouring Olinda; we have enough time to enjoy both.
And after the carnival, time to relax. The coast of Pernambuco has beaches galore: some nearly deserted. The beach at Porto De Galinhas, voted by some as the best beach in Brazil, is the perfect place to chill out for a couple of days before flying home.
All Songlines Music Travellers will receive an information sheet about the local music plus recommended recordings and DVDs.
Carnival in Recife Itinerary
Day 1 Tues
Today we meet our up with our Travel Leader at our hotel in Recife. If you arrive early in the day you will have time for a personal exploration of Recife or relax and recover from your travels. Many clients, whether using a flight booked through Songlines Music Travel or booking their own flights, may arrive late in the evening so will meet with the group at breakfast on day 2.
Day 2 Wed
After breakfast we join our guide for a morning orientation tour of the city. Recife is a city with an Indian heritage as well as the colonial influence of the Portuguese and the Dutch. In addition to looking at both the modern and older quarters of town, there will be time to take in the locations of some of the city's most famous beaches. The afternoon is free for us to explore the back streets, bars and cafes of the city, or just head for one rest and relaxation centre - the Boa Viagem beach. After dinner we can sample some local music as the atmosphere builds towards carnival.
Day 3 Thurs
Today is a free day. You may prefer to take it easy before carnival gets under way; a last day of calm at the pool or the beach. Or you may prefer to take an optional trip out of town, your Travel Leader will be happy to assist in arranging this..
Days 4-8 Fri-Tues
During the five days of carnival, Recife becomes a big party town. Carnival here is more authentic, in many ways, than the more glitzy, show-business event in Rio. Local people make up most of the bands, as well as thronging the streets and populating the parades, and the liveliest music takes place right in the downtown streets of the city. There are those who prefer the atmosphere of the carnival at neighbouring Olinda, which goes on at the same time; we will have time to visit both. Our Travel Leader will know which events are happening where and will make sure we are headed for the right part of town at the appropriate time of the day or night. Whether you prefer to spend your time with the group or go off on your own, this will be a frenetic five days.
Day 9 Wed
With Carnival ended for another year, after a late breakfast we leave the city and drive south, along the coast to Porto de Galinho. This part of Brazil has some superb beaches and our aim is to spend a last couple of days after carnival, enjoying beach life before the journey home. Arriving around mid-day we check into our hotel and the rest of the day is free.
Day 10 Thurs
Today is for lazing at the beach in Porto de Galinha, one of the best in Brazil. But our coach is available if we fancy exploring the surrounding area; perhaps a visit to the superb unspoilt beach at Carneiros, for example.
Day 11 Fri
After breakfast it's time to head north to Recife, where we will arrive around midday. Our coach will drop those staying on at the hotel. Flights for London will leave this evening.
Tour price (excluding flights) £1,160 per person
For information and reservations, call Songlines Music Travel on 020 8505 2582
(c) Alex Robinson