When to go
Brazil’s high season runs from December to March. This is when the country fills with both foreign visitors and vacationing Brazilian families (school holidays run from mid-December to Carnaval, usually in February). Prices rise during this time and you’ll face more crowds, though this is also the most festive time in Brazil. Brazil’s low season runs from May to September. With the exception of July, which is also a school-holiday month, this is the cheapest and least-crowded time to visit the country – though it can be utterly vacant in some resort areas and cold in the south.
During the summer, which runs from December to February (school holidays coinciding), Rio and the Northeast have temperatures in the high 30s. The rest of the year temperatures are generally in the mid-20s to low 30s. The south has wider temperature variations, ranging from 15°C in the winter (June through August) to 35°C in the summer.
The Amazon region rarely gets hotter than 27°C, but it is humid there, with considerable rainfall over tropical Amazonia. In some parts of the North, December to March is considered winter, since that’s the rainiest season.
Owing to generally temperate weather year-round, there’s no bad time to visit Brazil. But unless you have your heart set on attending Carnaval, you may want to avoid the summer crowds (and heat), and visit from April to November. Treks into the Amazon and the Pantanal are best then – especially from June to August, when it’s drier.
Festivals & Events
Carnaval is King of the Brazilian festival calendar - and rightly so. But there are plenty of other festive events to enjoy during your trip to Brazil, as the list below attests...
Festa de Iemanjá (Festival of Iemanjá) Celebrated in Rio on January 1, and in Salvador on February 2.
Procissão do Senhor Bom Jesus dos Navegantes (Procession of the Lord Jesus of Boatmen) In Salvador, Bahia on New Year's Day.
Lavagem do Bonfim (Washing of Bonfim church) Second Thursday in January. A Candomblé festival culminating in the ritual cleansing of Bonfim church in Salvador, Bahia.
Carnaval Friday to Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday. Carnaval celebrations usually start well before the official holiday.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) The week before Easter. Festival in Congonhas, Ouro Prêto, Goiás Velho.
Dia do Índio (Indian Day) April 19.
Festas Juninas (June Festivals) Throughout June. Celebrated throughout in Rio state and much of the rest of the country.
Boi-Bumbá June 28–30. Celebrated in Parintins, Amazonas.
Bumba Meu Boi Late June to second week of August. Festival in São Luís.
Fortal (out-of-season Carnaval) Last week of July. Celebrated in Fortaleza.
Jubileu do Senhor Bom Jesus do Matosinhos (Jubilee of the Savior of Matosinhos) September 7–14. Celebrated in Congonhas.