New Year’s Eve celebrations are a big deal around the world, but in Salvador we take it to a different level.
The phrase “go big or go home” is true when it comes to Salvador and its ability to throw a party. We host the biggest New Year’s celebration in Brazil — a free multi-day music festival with nationally and internationally known acts that receives close to 500,000 tourists.
While the holiday is celebrated throughout the city, there are two primary destinations for locals and tourists alike.
Boca do Rio festival grounds
The Boca do Rio festival grounds, new in 2017, is home to the multi-day music festival that sees close to 2 million people pass through its gates.
The ginormous, 55,000 square meter waterfront location features:
- Giant Ferris wheel
- Large food court with 40+ food and beverage stands
- Multiple stages, including a massive main stage called the Daniela Mercury Arena
- Arts fair
- Medical station
- Thousands of security officers
The experience is free and open to the public. For those that want a more exclusive experience, you can purchase a ticket to one of the two VIP lounges.
Official programming is announced in the days leading up to the event, but typically includes big-name attractions in Brazil, including Daniela Mercury, Ivete Sangalo, Mariene de Castro, Olodum, Bell Marques, and more. Check out Ivete’s 2018/2019 show to see what a night in Boca do Rio is like.
The beach in Barra, on both sides of Farol da Barra, is a very popular destination for both New Year’s Eve as well as New Year’s Day.
New Year’s Eve
The impeccably-dressed crowds start showing up early evening, often bringing champagne, snacks, and music to settle in and wait for the midnight fireworks show.
The same vendors that rent out beach chairs during the day are ready to rent you a table and chair for the evening as well. Or, you can save money and bring your own, or sit on the sand.
There will also be countless vendors there selling food and drink, as well as flowers for you to offer to Iemanja, the goddess of the sea. Festivities carry on into the wee hours of the morning.
New Year’s Day
Because all of Salvador loves a good beach day, New Year’s Day the beaches in Barra, particularly Porto da Barra, are PACKED. Thousands descend on the beach to relax and enjoy the day with friends and family and the beach will stay full until a few hours after sunset. If you want peace and quiet to recuperate from the night before, do not go to the beach.
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What you need to know
- Wear white on New Year’s Eve. This is the holiday of the year where everyone dresses up, and almost everyone is decked out in all white.
- Plan for crowds. The Boca do Rio festival grounds gets approximately 2 million people passing through during the week of the festival. Barra is also quite busy both New Year’s Eve night and New Year’s Day
- Allow extra time. Getting in and our won’t be fast or easy with the crowds.
- Stay alert. Lots of crowds means lots of opportunities for pickpockets. Only take what you need and consider wearing something like this Stashbandz belt for your phone and money.
- The holiday goes by multiple names which are used interchangably: Ano Novo (New Year), Virada (turn [of the year]), and Réveillon (New Year).
No matter where and how you choose to celebrate, have a wonderful and safe New Year’s.