Explore São Luís Carnival
São Luís Carnival is an annual event with its own unique characteristics, revealed in its drumbeats, playful atmosphere, and vibrant characters taking over the streets during the days of revelry. Carnival in São Luís features carnival blocks, Afro-Brazilian cultural groups, samba schools, small bands, brass bands, and shows in both open and private spaces.
The samba school parade in São Luís is as old as Rio de Janeiro’s. Some schools no longer exist, while others resist the test of time, such as Turma da Mangueira (1929), Flor do Samba (1939), Turma do Quinto (1940), Favela do Samba (1951), Marambaia do Samba (1954), Unidos de Fátima, and Império Serrano (1956). Since 2009, the champions of Maranhão Carnival parade on the Saturday following Carnival. Besides the top three, various other carnival groups perform on this day, including Traditional Blocks and Organized Blocks.
In São Luís, Tambor de Crioula, a dance dedicated to Saint Benedict, is prevalent during Carnival. This manifestation, showcased throughout the year in public presentations, gains prominence during Carnival and June festivities.
Traditional and Afro Blocos
The celebration is also marked by Traditional Blocos with their large drums producing a strong beat reminiscent of a slow-paced samba. Adorned in luxurious costumes filled with glitz, feathers, and sequins, these blocos take over the streets of downtown, captivating both visitors and island residents.
A central figure of São Luís Carnival is the “fofão,” a clown dressed in an enormous, colorful chita jumpsuit, adorned with bells and a mask. Historically, this character is a European cultural legacy adapted to local culture, becoming a true symbol of the city’s Carnival.
Afro Blocos are a phenomenon in São Luís Carnival, emerging in the early 80s, led by the Center for Black Culture, an ethnic activism and socio-cultural research hub in Maranhão. Afro Blocos express black consciousness in their parades, drawing attention during the Carnival period on the island.
Throughout the five days of revelry, the city distributes its Carnival circuits in the downtown area and its neighborhoods.
In the downtown area, the Beira-Mar Circuit unfolds, starting in the RFFSA region and ending near the Casa do Maranhão. Along Avenida Litorânea, festivities also take place with the Litorânea Circuit, featuring programs including shows by national, regional, and local artists and musical groups.
In circuits organized by the Municipality of São Luís, Traditional and Alternative Blocks, Tambor de Crioulas, Samba Schools, Indigenous Tribes, and many other attractions bring joy to locals and visitors who enjoy the Madre Deus Circuit and the Samba Runway (Anel Viário).
The Madre Deus Circuit starts at the Vila Gracinha stage, passing through Praça da Saudade and continuing to Largo do Caroçudo, where attractions are featured on another stage erected at the location.
Join us in this grand celebration that blends culture, music, and contagious joy. Come be a part of this unique festival and experience incredible moments during Carnival on the Island of Love!