Time Out São Paulo

Street Carnival – blocos

When the blocos (roving parties) go parading in the days leading up to Carnival 2014, the streets are the place to be

The full 2014 Carnival Bloco schedule

If your idea of a fun Carnival in São Paulo has absolutely nothing to do with the megalomania of the major samba school parades, then the city streets just might be the place for you. Unlike Rio de Janeiro, where classic parades such as the Cordão do Bola Preta and the Banda de Ipanema attract literally millions onto Rio’s streets, the travelling party blocos in São Paulo have never been better – and while the number of participants increases every year, they still avoid the uncomfortable overcrowding of the carioca festivities.

The oldest paulistano Carnival parade, the Bloco dos Esfarrapados, has been bringing together a vibrant mixed crowd in the heart of the neighbourhood of Bixiga since 1947, always setting off from Rua Conselheiro Carrão on the Monday of Carnival (3 March this year). Also located in Bixiga – considered one of the birthplaces of paulistano samba – are both the União Municipal dos Estudantes Secundaristas de São Paulo (UMES) Caras Pintadas parade, and the Banda do Candinho bloco, which has been on the go for 32 years.

Thiago Borba/Press Image

The Tarado Ni Você bloco

Another long-established and entertaining bloco is Banda Redonda, which takes to the streets on the Monday prior to Carnival (24 February) at the corner of Rua da Consolação and Rua Teodoro Baima, directly in front of the church, Igreja da Consolação. Famous for its LGBT following, this parade goes for visual delirium, with drag queens and throngs of people – predominantly young men – decked out in lavish costumes. The itinerary involves a veritable tour of the old parts of the Centro: it passes through Anhangabaú, the Theatro Municipal, and the junction of Avenida Ipiranga and São João before coming to a close at Praça da República.

Nearby, at Largo do Arouche, the Banda do Fuxico is another of the city’s traditionally gay blocos, and among the attractions here are a high-heel race and a drag queen contest, which takes place on the Sunday before Carnival (23 February).

Fora do Eixo/Flickr
The Acadêmicos do Baixo Augusta bloco


On the same day, one of Carnival’s most beautiful parades takes place at the Major Quedinho overpass: Ilú Obá de Min, a women’s bloco dedicated to the celebration of Carnival’s African roots. Around 100 colourfully adorned percussionists animate their samba performance with the rhythms and chants of African songs.

But while some honour traditions,the blocos of São Paulo aren’t stuck in the past. Newer blocos such as Acadêmicos do Baixo Augusta, Santo Forte de Rua, Pilantrági (which takes its name from a party at the club Bebo Sim) and Tarado Ni Você (making its debut this year, and entirely dedicated to the songs of musician Caetano Veloso) all tend to draw a young, cool crowd.

Because of its grand scale, one major exception to the more intimate feel of SP blocos is Vai Quem Quer, which for 33 years has set off from Praça Benedito Calixto in Pinheiros, before navigating the surrounding streets of neighbouring Vila Madalena. More like a paulistano version of the Rio blocos, it’s one of the busiest parades in the city and draws a slightly more well-to-do crowd alongside loads of curious tourists.

Keep in mind that for the parades passing through Centro and Bixiga after dark, it’s probably best to plan on taking a taxi home. For daytime blocos, it’s a good idea to bring a basic kit that includes sunglasses, sun screen and some bottled water.


Check out the full 2014 schedule of blocos below:

Saturday, 22 February

Kolombolo Diá Piratininga 
Praça Aprendiz das Letras (Rua Belmiro Braga, no number), Vila Madalena. 3pm.

Tarado Ni Você 
Avenida Ipiranga and Avenida São João, República. Noon.

Pholia na Luz 
Parque da Luz, Centro. 3pm.

Sunday, 23 February

Acadêmicos do Baixo Augusta 
Rua Augusta and Rua Marquês de Paranaguá, Consolação. 2pm. 

Banda do Fuxico
Largo do Arouche, República. 7pm.

Confraria do Pasmado 
Rua Nova Veneza, no number, Vila Madalena. Noon.

Ilú Obá de Min 
Rua São Domingo and Rua Abolição, Bixiga. 6pm.

Pholia na Luz 
Parque da Luz, Centro. 3pm.

Santo Forte de Rua
Praça Dom Orione, no number, Bixiga. 4pm.

Monday, 24 February

Banda Redonda 
Rua da Consolação and Rua Teodoro Baima, República. 9pm.

Tuesday, 25 February

U.M.E.S. Caras Pintadas 
Rua Rui Barbosa 323, Bixiga. 5pm.

Wednesday, 26 February

Banda do Candinho 
Ruas Santo Antônio & Treze de Maio, Bixiga. 9pm.

Friday, 28 February

Banda do Trem Elétrico 
Rua Augusta and Rua Luís Coelho, Consolação. 6.30pm.

Lira da Vila 
Praça Rotary, Vila Buarque. 6pm.

Saturday, 1 March

Lira da Vila 
Praça Rotary, Vila Buarque. 6pm.

Vai Quem Quer 
Praça Benedito Calixto, Pinheiros. 8pm.

Sunday, 2 March

Vai Quem Quer 
Praça Benedito Calixto, Pinheiros. 8pm.

Monday, 3 March

Bloco dos Esfarrapados 
Rua Conselheiro Carrão 466, Bixiga. 14h.

Vai Quem Quer
Praça Benedito Calixto, Pinheiros. 8pm.

Tuesday, 4 March

Vai Quem Quer 
Praça Benedito Calixto, Pinheiros. 8pm.


By Fabio Rigobelo
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