Lonely Planet Writer

#LPCelebrazil: it's time for kick-off!

Men playing foot volley on Ipanema Beach. Men playing foot volley on Ipanema Beach / Lonely Planet Traveller Magazine.

Here at Lonely Planet we can barely contain our excitement about the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off on Thursday 12th June. We've got a Lonely Planet author-on-the-ground to capture the buzz in Brazil, we have our beady eye on the Fan Fests erupting in each host city, and we're positively glued to the updates travellers are sharing via the hashtag #LPCelebrazil.

The latest from Brazil

Here's what Kevin Raub, our South America expert, has to say about the atmosphere in the host country before the first whistle blows:

'Last week, in the lead up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, I was kicking back in the gorgeous Andes-hugging vineyards of Mendoza and Neuquén, Argentina – and when I returned this past weekend I was happy to see that Brazilians are finally starting to come around, slowly turning the mostly negative vibes about the impending tournament in Brazil into excitement and support for the national team.

On Thursday, Neymar Jr. and Co. kick off the football extravaganza against Croatia at Arena de São Paulo and the Brazilian team is finally feeling the love! I was out and about on Monday and saw that storefronts, vehicles and private homes are coming to life with green and yellow. Restaurants have begun to advertise their food and beer promotions during matches. Foreigners are beginning to mill about in São Paulo – a few Australians were mulling over pasteis, a great Brazilian street food, on Av. Paulista; the free São Paulo walking tour had to be expanded into two groups instead of one; an Englishman was complaining to his partner about prices at the Havaianas flagship store. I even saw two homeless guys with Brazilian flags!

The protests are sure to continue, but as this World Cup progresses - once the country is injected with the partying spirit and nationalism of 600,000 crazy, screaming, rallying, absolutely mad football fans from around the world - Brazil will have little choice but to party, scream and rally in retaliation, never one to shy away from a little defensive patriotism when warranted. And if Brazil wins?

All will be forgotten!'

FIFA Fan Fest locations

Are you heading to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil? For the matches you're not lucky enough to have tickets for, there are dedicated public spaces where you can watch the games for free, with an equally passionate crowd. Here is the complete list of FIFA Fan Fest locations in each host city:

Belo Horizonte - Expominas

Brasília - Taguaparque

Cuiabá - Parque de Exposicoes

Curitiba - Pedreira Paulo Leminski

Fortaleza - Praia de Iracema (Aterrão)

Manaus - Ponta Negra

Natal - Praia do Forte

Porto Alegre - Anfiteatro Pôr do Sol

Recife - Cais da Alfandega

Rio de Janeiro - Praia de Copacabana

Salvador - Aeroclube

São Paulo - Vale do Anhangabau

Top moments from Kevin's journey across Brazil

Here are some highlights from Kevin's journey so far. See more at lonelyplanet.com/world-cup and share the ways you're celebrating Brazil using the hashtag #LPCelebrazil.

Kevin's journey was curated by Emma Sparks.