Some people think Carnaval is just a debaucherous four-day party in Rio de Janiero but the rest of Brazil would have to disagree. Months leading up to Fat Tuesday, even the tiny towns are constructing elaborate floats, practicing samba routines, and gearing up for this nationwide party. Beyond the grandstands of Rio (we’ll get to that after our stay this weekend), here our the look at Carnaval from the four weeks traveling the country through little beach towns to the colonial cities that started it all.

In Brazil it's all about attitude. Colors can never be too bright, clothes are never too tight, and self confidence pulls anything off. This piece of street art rules the block.

Bright pinks, blues, yellows, greens... essentially the rainbow pumped up a notch is the palette of not just Carnaval but the whole of Brazil. Everything from houses to shops are in a vibrant coat of paint so when streamers of every color hang through the streets of Olinda for Carnaval, they perfectly complement the town.

Over-the top frocks like this sweet pea dress are perfect for nights out and these Liberty of London (meets Brazil) style skirts are just the thing for a morning block party.

Carnival bead shop in brazil

Like Mardi Gras, reams of glitzy beads are essential to Carnaval style. This shop caters to the locals and can string up anything from their 100s of choices. Women wear a numb of strands around their neck and men tend to slip them through each arm to crisscross them over their chest.

carnaval shakers

For sound and flair, colorful beads slip over gourds to create every neighborhod's percussion section. Even if you never gave these a shake they would look very global chic on a console table or bookshelf.

carnaval puppets

Massive papier-mâché puppets modeled after local celebrities and political figures are the stars of the bloco. When worn on the shoulders of a puppet master as he saunters down the parade, the figure is the mark of that group's artistic talents and sense of humor.

Girls take the streets with their resounding drums, and equally loud hair and makeup. Flowers are a running theme in clothes and accessories.

carnaval bloco

Woven baskets encircled with metallic streamers become an essential prop for traditional Afro-Brazilian dances through the streets of Salvador.

salavador carnaval dance

Sassed up with head scarves, bangles and some relentless dance moves, these ladies weren't going to leave the party to the kids. Flowing linen and lace dresses make for dramatic spins and a classic look.

carnaval olinda

Classsic red blue and yellow umbrellas are a dancing essential in Pernambuco. For spins, jumps, pivots, they make every Frevo dance move more dazzling with their blur of primary colors.

carnaval bloco leader

Leading this neighborhood bloco, these intricately beaded banners command the attention they deserve.

Has anyone ever been to Carnaval in Rio or seen photos? Though spectacular (we went to the Sambadromo last night), I was amazed by  how different and incredibly charming the regional takes on the party different could be.

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  • Patrick Collins

    How long did it take to overcome the Carnaval hangover!?

    • Mike Howard –

      3 days in Ilha Grande is an amazing hangover cute….no more advil for us!

  • JC from Holland

    I did visit Rio, to work in the Barrios I never visited it during Carnaval. When you get older hangovers are more worse :-) (speaking frome experience)

    • Mike Howard –

      That’s cool you worked in the barrios. We volunteered in an art school/community center in a favela which was a great experience. The Brazilians make hangovers hard to avoid–especially during Carnaval. They were people selling beer out of wheelbarrows on every street!