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Curitiba Aims to Draw Tourists to "Alternative" Carnival

02/21/2014 - 09h34

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ESTELITA HASS CARAZZAI
FROM CURITIBA

The city of Curitiba, in the south of Brazil, is not known for having a great carnival tradition. This year, however, it is trying to attract tourists to spend an 'alternative' holiday, at a time of year when the city is usually empty.

The idea is to offer a more peaceful experience. 'Whoever doesn't like marching behind floats, parading in samba schools, or participating in one of Rio's 500 carnival blocs, should come to Curitiba,' says Paulo Colnaghi, president of the local tourist board.

This is the first time that the city government has conducted a publicity campaign to attract tourists who might prefer some peace and quiet. Inspiration struck last year, when local tourist guides found 20 couples from Rio de Janeiro in one of the city's parks.

"They didn't like carnival in Rio," says Colnaghi. "So they rented a bus and came to Curitiba."

It is no surprise that just as much as people from Rio, Curitiba hopes to attract tourists from Salvador and Recife, two cities in Brazil's northeast famous for their carnival tradition. And of course, the city is also trying to appeal to people from the neighboring states of Santa Catarina and São Paulo.

"We want to tap into that opposite movement: while everyone here is going elsewhere, you can come here," says Colnaghi. "Come and stroll in the park, have a coffee, get away from the madness of it all. It's very nice."

It isn't the case that there is no carnival in the city at all. The city's samba schools conduct a modest parade, and have done for more than twenty years. Likewise, there are pre-carnival blocs that attract thousands of people.

"But this is carnival for the locals, not for the tourists," says Colnaghi.

As well as offering a calmer experience, the city also hosts a traditional rock event during carnival season. This year will see the 15th Psycho Carnival, which brings together psychobilly fans from all over the world.

There is a festival of horror films planned, as well as the famous Zombie Walk. Last year, 6,000 people dressed up as zombies and other monsters walked - or rather shuffled - through the city streets.

To complete the alternative carnival, Curitiba will also host, on March 1, the "First World Forum of Intelligent Life in the Universe." Organized by a local institute, the event hopes to promote "an exchange between scientific knowledge and spirituality."

Researchers from the United States, Chile and Peru are due to visit the city, to relate their experiences with alien sightings and 'cosmic cultures.'

"From zombies to rock to flying saucers, it's going to be a great carnival," promises Conalghi.

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

Read the article in the original language

Nelson Almeida/AFP
People take part in the Zombie Walk for the Day of the Dead
People take part in the Zombie Walk for the Day of the Dead

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