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Partying in Latin America: el Carnaval Posted by on Aug 19, 2020 in Videos

Esta semana iba a llevarte a otro viaje virtual (This week I was going to take you on another virtual trip). I think I’ll save that for next month, though, because Laura’s recent post about Partying in Spanish inspired me to go a different direction today! Soy un noctámbulo (I’m a night owl), so I really enjoyed her post. I’ve also had tons of fun partying in Latin America and I’d like to share some of the best experiences with you! I’ll start things off today by talking about the biggest party in not only the region, but the entire world…

Carnaval de Barranquilla

A parade during Carnaval de Barranquilla.

El Carnaval

When it comes to partying in Latin America, you simply cannot beat Carnival. This massive celebration happens in the lead-up to Lent. It’s a time for people to get their ya-ya’s out, with parades, street parties, and concerts. The costumes are colorful, the music is loud, and the atmosphere is electric.

El Carnaval es una gran fiesta para que todos disfruten – jóvenes y viejos, ricos y pobres, turistas y lugareños (Carnival is a big party for all to enjoy – young and old, rich and poor, tourists and locals). It’s so much fun that I’ve been to three different countries in the last four years to celebrate.

Carnival in Mazatlan, Mexico.

Carnival is also a time of excess before making a Lenten sacrifice. There’s a whole lot of eating and drinking going on during the nearly week-long celebration. I’ve been to some pretty epic parties and festivals in my day, and let me tell you – people go big for Carnival in Latin America!

Las celebraciones de Carnaval más famosas del mundo se encuentran en Río de Janeiro (The most famous Carnival celebrations in the world are in Rio de Janeiro). If you really want to go for the gold, you’ve got to get yourself to Rio to partake in this insane party.

A Carnival parade in Rio.

Since Brazil is a Portuguese-speaking country, you’ll want to brush up on some useful phrases before heading there. Go ahead and check out the Portuguese Language Blog, where you can read a more detailed post I wrote about celebrating Carnaval in Brazil.

While Brazil gets most of the hype, there are plenty of other excellent Carnival celebrations in Latin America! One example is el Carnaval de Mazatlán. This city on the Pacific Coast of Mexico has held Carnival festivities since way back in 1898.

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A live band jamming out at Carnaval in Mazatlan.

Durante Carnaval de Mazatlán hay fuegos artificiales, desfiles, música en vivo, comida y más (During Carnival in Mazatlan there are fireworks, parades, live music, food and more). This huge party takes place mostly on the city’s el Malecón – a long oceanfront promenade and the perfect place for a fiesta.

It being Mexico, you can expect plenty of banda music, lots of tacos, and all the tequila you could ever want! You can read all about it in this post and check out a short highlight video below:

Another great place to celebrate Carnival in Latin America is the Colombian city of Barranquilla. The official slogan of Carnival here is “¡Quién lo vive es quién lo goza!,” which basically means “he who lives it enjoys it.”

The parade in Barranquilla.

I can attest to that being an accurate slogan, as I had an absolute blast! The old phrase “la tercera vez es el encanto” (the third time’s the charm) proved to be true for me, as this was my 3rd and favorite Carnival experience in Latin America.

¡Los desfiles fueron increíbles! (The parades were incredible!). It really is worth it to buy a ticket to get a seat in the bleachers, as it can be pure chaos out on the street. Speaking of the street, you definitely have to check out baila la calle (dance in the street), which is basically just a huge public party.

Amazing costumes in the parade.

For a closer look, you can read all about mi experiencia en el Carnaval de Barranquilla (my experience in the Carnival of Barranquilla). Here’s a video that should inspire you to travel to Colombia to get to live it for yourself!

As you can see, Carnival in Latin America is an incredibly fun and exciting time. I’ve shared enough about my own experiences. I’d like to hear about yours!

¿Has celebrado el Carnaval en América Latina? ¿Dónde?

Have you celebrated Carnival in Latin America? Where?

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.