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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 26 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Alex Robinson

Imagine Rio Carnival in the middle of the Amazon rainforest: that’s the Boi Bumba festival. This three-night dance and music festival takes place on remote Tupinamba island in the middle of the Brazilian stretch of the Amazon river.

It’s a spectacular night-time pageant – with giant floats, hundreds of costumed dancers and thousands of revellers. Through music and dance, two rival performance troupes take it in turns to tell the story of Pai Francisco and his wife Mae Catarina – who steal and kill a prize bull from a rich landowner.

The landowner discovers this and threatens to retaliate unless they resurrect his animal by midnight; which they do, with help of a shaman, a priest and an Afro-Brazilian Pai Santo, all of whom invoke the spirit of Amazon fertility – the Cunhã-poranga, played by a beautiful young dancer.

Keep an eye out for Carimbo dancing – a sultry, dress-swirling, Afro-Amazonian swing that makes tango look tired and tame.

Price from: £400
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
Frequency: annually
When: End June
Duration: 3 days

Getting there & doing it

As Tupinambarana Island is unconnected to the rest of the Brazil by road, the only way in is to fly or take a boat. Most visitors book a package through a tour operator in their home country, or in Manaus, sleeping on a river boat for the duration. You will need to book at least three months ahead.

When to do it

The festival takes place over a long weekend in late June.

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