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National Day of Samba: Best attractions in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo this weekend

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Every December 2nd, Brazilians celebrate the National Day of Samba. Profoundly linked to the building of Brazil’s cultural identity throughout the twentieth century, samba is a universe encompassing a variety of dance and music sub-genres, each developed in a different part of Brazil. Samba de Roda (Bahia), samba rural (Rio and São Paulo’s countryside), and samba-reggae (Bahia) are only some of them.

As for the so-called Rio urban samba, it was born from the multi-ethnical fusion of Afro-Brazilian, Latin European, and Arab music elements in the early twentieth century in “Pequena África” (translated as Little Africa, a region in Rio’s downtown where many Afro-Bahian families used to reside). Until the present day, Rio urban samba is the most common samba expression when it comes to samba music, both in Brazil and abroad.

While the National Day of Samba was on December 2 (which alludes to the day when samba composer Ary Barroso has first arrived in Salvador, one of the samba cribs in Brazil), celebrations will be happening until the end of the weekend, especially in cities with a vivid “roda de samba” culture. For those who want to experience a bit of the samba universe in the main Brazilian capitals, we have selected some of the best events in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Find below:

1) Rio de Janeiro: The “Trem do Samba” Circuit – A classic on every post-December 2nd Saturday is “Trem do Samba”, the “Samba Train”. The event consists of several samba musicians taking the same train wagon to Oswaldo Cruz (a traditional samba neighborhood) and playing during the trip. While the “Trem do Samba” itself trip wasn’t open to the public this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, there will be several shows (in bars and on stages) in Oswaldo Cruz as of 6 PM this Saturday (December 4). Click here for more details.

One of the big attractions performing tonight (Dec. 4) in the Rio neighborhood of Oswaldo Cruz is the singer and composer Leci Brandão. Photo: Leci Brandão’s official Facebook page.

2) Rio de Janeiro: Samba at Feira da Glória – Another free, outdoor, and democratic samba event, just the way Carioca samba fans like it. Happening on Sunday (December 5), the traditional “roda” at the Glória Street Market will count on two special guests: the women singer Áurea Martins and Marina Íris. The event will be starting from 3 PM.

3) Rio de Janeiro: rehearsal at the headquarters of Mangueira Samba School – One of the most prestigious samba schools in the city, Mangueira will host an open rehearsal for Carnival 2022 tonight. The event will start at 10 PM, and tickets can be purchased for R$40. The members will present a samba-enredo theme dedicated to Cartola, Delegado, and Jamelão – three of Mangueira’s first and most notable composers.

4) São Paulo: 30 “rodas de samba” at Vale do Anhangabaú – The city that has birthed samba composers like Adoniram Barbosa and Geraldo Filme also has promising events for the weekend. In the heart of São Paulo’s downtown, Vale do Anhangabaú will host 30 different samba attractions this Saturday for free, which will include famous groups like Fundo de Quintal. Here are more details on the line-up.

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This weekend’s edition of Samba do Sol will take place at Tokyo’s rooftop, in São Paulo’s downtown. Photo: Samba do Sol’s official Facebook page.

5) São Paulo: Samba do Sol – One of São Paulo’s hyped samba events is Samba do Sol, which takes place at a different address every Sunday. Tomorrow’s edition will happen at Tokyo’s rooftop, in São Paulo’s downtown. A true Sunday samba marathon that will be on from 12 PM to 12 AM with group Reduto.

6) São Paulo: Vila do Samba – Much of São Paulo’s samba owes its legacy to the city’s North Zone, where Vila do Samba is located. Some of the most acclaimed living legends from the urban samba universe perform regularly at this traditional venue, which, tomorrow, will host the pagode master Jorge Aragão. Click here for more details.

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