2013 Public Holidays in Brazil
It can be difficult getting your head around the public holidays in Brazil, as each state in this vast country has its own public holidays, as well as the national festivals that are celebrated by the whole country. If you’re travelling on holiday to Brazil it’s worth being aware of the dates for all of them as many Brazilians take advantage of the extra time off to visit family or just to go the beach, pushing hotel prices up and making availability limited. In this post I’ve given the dates for the 2013 public holidays in Brazil, but the dates for 2012 are identical in almost all cases.
1 January – New Year’s Day
New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest festivals of the year in Brazil, and particularly in Rio, so be prepared for many shops and restaurants to be closed on New Year’s Day. New Year’s Eve is also a half-day public holiday in Brazil.
9-13 February – Carnival / Ash Wednesday
Probably the most famous festival in the world, the Rio Carnival 2013 starts on Saturday 9th February and will run through until Ash Wednesday on the 13th. Hundreds of thousands of overseas visitors flock to the Rio Carnival every year, quite apart from all the Brazilians, and in 2012 hotel occupancy in Rio was at 99.8% despite record high room prices – if you’re planning a Rio Carnival trip – book early! Other cities are also especially busy at Carnival time, and so what’s true for Rio is also increasingly true for other cities in Brazil, particularly if you’re planning a trip to the superb Salvador Carnival.
21 April – Tiradentes’ Day
This date is celebrated throughout Brazil in honour of the death in 1792 of Tiradentes, the leader of an insurgent movement that fought for independence from the Portuguese Empire. In 2013 it falls on a Sunday, so the public holiday may be moved to Monday 22nd April instead.
1 May – Labour Day
Labour Day is a popular public holiday in Brazil, and coming at the end of the Brazilian summer, many people in Brazil take this chance to head to the beach, particularly places like Buzios if they live in Rio, or Santos if they live in Sao Paulo.
7 September – Independence Day
Brazil’s independence from Portugal in 1822 is celebrated with a public holiday throughout Brazil, but there are particularly big celebrations in Brasilia, where a large military parade takes place. There are also Brazilian Independence Day festivals around the world, in places like New York, Toronto, Los Angeles and London.
12 October – Our Lady of Aparecida’s Day
Brazil’s Patron Saint, Nossa Senhora do Conceicao Aparecida has her feast day on 12th October every year, and it has been a public holiday in Brazil since 1980, when Pope John Paul II visited Brazil. It is regarded as particularly special for children and so the 12th is usually a family day out.
1-2 November – All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day
All Saints’ Day is not a national public holiday in Brazil, but it applies in many states, and the 2nd November is celebrated in the entire country as the Dia de Finados, or Day of the Dead. Although not as important as in, say, Mexico, this is a day when many Brazilians choose to commemorate their ancestors by visiting cemeteries.
15 November – Republic Day
Separate from Independence Day, the 15th November every year celebrates the end of the Brazilian Empire in 1889, and its transformation into a Republic.
20 November – Black Consciousness Day
Again, this day is not celebrated as a public holiday in all states, but is recognised as a festival all over Brazil. It is seen as a day to remember the injustices of slavery and to celebrate Brazil’s African heritage.
25 December – Christmas Day
As in most of the world, Christmas in Brazil is celebrated all over, complete with presents, Christmas trees, and even turkey! The major difference compared to Europe or North America is that in Brazil it is the height of summer and so many Brazilians choose to spend this public holiday in Brazil on the beach!
As well as these major public holidays in Brazil, there are numerous dates which are observed by separate states to recognise the independence of a particular state or city, or the anniversary of a locally-important person.
Guest Post by Dan:
Dan Clarke works for Real Brazil Holidays, the UK specialist in tailormade holidays in Brazil. Although he made it to Salvador Carnival a few years back, Rio Carnival is definitely next on his list…