With Money And Celebrities, São Paulo Street Carnaval Surpasses Rio's Traditional Celebration

Number of street parades in São Paulo exceeds Rio's, hotels sell out, and corporate sponsors prioritize the city

São Paulo's street Carnaval gains the big league Folhapress

São Paulo

Once upon a time, São Paulo was called "where samba went to die." But this year, the city's Carnaval celebrations not only exploded in attendance but also in the number of parades and became a serious business, rivaling with Rio and Salvador.

São Paulo's increasing popularity in Carnaval has been happening for the last ten years, and in 2019 the city issued permits for 556 street parades (known as blocos), against Rio's 498 permits.

This feat seemed unlikely up until last year, when Rio had 608 blocos, well beyond 491 in São Paulo. But with Rio's public finances in trouble, many parades that relied on some city funding were forced to cancel their festivities this year.

However, Salvador and Recife are the top street Carnaval cities in Brazil, with 615 and 580 parades, respectively.

São Paulo's tourism board says that Carnaval in 2018 raised R$ 550 million (US$ 143 million), 75% more than 2017's R$ 314 million (US$ 82 million). The amount can increase another 60% in 2019, reaching R$ 880 million (US$ 230 million), says Mariana Aldrighi, a professor at the Tourism Department at Universidade de São Paulo.

"There are many reasons for São Paulo's rise in the national Carnaval scene. One is Rio's urban violence, which scares many visitors away. But regardless, it's trendy to spend Carnaval in São Paulo now. Many people come to dress up and post pictures on social media," she said.

São Paulo's hotel industry is not complaining, either. Hotels are getting used to being sold out at this time of the year, a new thing to a city that is usually considered only a business destination.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

Read the article in the original language