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Boi Bumba celebration, Parintins, Brazil

Boi Bumba celebration

“Boi Bumba” roughly translates as “Beat the Bull,”  and relates to a popular folktole told throughout northeastern Brazil that weaves cultural threads from indigenous Amazonian peoples, Portuguese colonists, and Catholicism. During Boi Bumba, the story isn’t just simply told. In the Parintins version, it’s an elaborate stage production featuring parade floats, giant puppets, hundreds of costumed performers and lots and lots of feathers and drums.

So many elements set this boi meu bumba apart from the others in Brazil: the riotous competition, the long and complex staging, the incessant days of drumming creating a fever pitch of heightened celebration, the tens of thousands of revelers who descend upon the town, but nothing quite elevates the mood than its physical location.

Parintins is an island city deep in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, the nearest town, Manaus, lies nearly 350 miles away, reached only by river boat. Celebrants have earned their right to a party because the initial journey is not an easy one—depending on conditions, it can take between 30-50 hours to get to Parintins via boat where your bed is often a simple hammock.