Brazil Carnival Costumes

Every year from Salvador to Rio and from Recife to Sao Paulo, Brazil carnival costumes are visible on every street corner and every beach front. There is a really fascinating background to how these costumes are made and what their significance is so I have explained a bit about this below.

A carnival procession passes by our apartment on Copacabana beach
A carnival procession passes by our apartment on Copacabana beach

How the costumes are made

Assembling the costumes is a very time consuming and often painstaking business and each year huge resource goes into putting them together. Most of the costumes are made by the Samba Schools and it is a year round process. Samba city is a vast industrial block and each Samba School will occupy a different area where elaborate head dresses and outfits are churned out on a huge scale. Of course it is not just the people who need to have costumes designed for them. Each parade will have trucks and cars that will carry many of the performers down the streets and they have to be decked with banners and decoration to fit in with the theme of the parade.

The themes of the costumes

Every Samba School comes up with a theme ahead of the carnival each year and these themes have ranged across pretty much everything you can think of. The themes have ranged from the being about the rainforests to the animals and from Chinese culture to space travel. Ultimately it does not really matter as long as the theme tells a story and the story is played out effectively in the make-up of the parade. Along with the Brazil carnival costume theme they also choose an appropriate song that fits with the mood and this will be played repeatedly during the course of the performance. Each school battles it out to put on the best show in trying to be crowned as the best performers at each carnival.

The Performance

Once the costumes have been assembled and the rehearsals have been staged everything rests on the performance at the Sambodrome. Each of the samba schools do battle as they parade all the work they have done on their Brazil carnival costumes in the months leading up to the event. If you are lucky enough to be in Brazil during the Carnival you will be treated to a sight that is as spectacular as anything you will see when you travel South America. At the end of the parades each performance will be judged on things like the costumes, the music and the choreography; and each samba school will hope to get its just rewards for all the hard work it has put in.