Updated on Feb.14, 2012
Where do 12-foot tall politicians, soccer players and folk characters meet when they want to have a real good time? In Olinda, of course! Giant puppets have been a tradition in Olinda Carnival since the early 1930s and their origins can be traced back to the 1910s in rural Pernambuco.
Giant puppets are present in many different events in Olinda. The greatest gathering is the Meeting of Giant Puppets, when about 100 of them parade with a huge crowd throng down the narrow cobblestone streets of this Unesco heritage site.
Olinda's very first giant puppet, the Midnight Man (Homem da Meia-Noite), is still out in the streets at his usual hour every year. The Midnight Man parade which takes place at the end of Carnival Saturday in the Bonsucesso district started in 1931. The Midnight Man gained a mate in 1967: the Day Woman (Mulher do Dia). The Afternoon Boy (Menino da Tarde) first appeared in 1974.
The great popularity of giang puppet parades means streets are fit to burst with throngs. A less-crowded event is the Giant Puppet Race, a pre-Carnival extravaganza.
Besides representing famous people in current Brazil life, giant puppets have traditional characters which show up every Carnival. Some of them are Lampião, a famous Northeastern backland outlaw; his partner, Maria Bonita; Zé Pereira, a folk symbol of Brazil Carnival; and John Travolta, who gives his name to a bloco, or Carnival group, founded by young fans of Saturday Night Fever.
Meeting of Giant Puppets 2012 in Olinda:
When: Fat Tuesday, Feb.21, 2012. Pre-party will start at 7 a.m.; there's a show with Batuketu at 10 a.m. and the parade will start at 11:30 p.m.
Where: Largo do Guadalupe, Olinda - PE
More Giant Puppet Events in Olinda Carnival 2012:
- Giant Puppet Race
The race traditionally takes place two Saturdays before Carnival Saturday.
- Giant Puppet Apotheosis
A parade with puppets representing famous Brazilians and internationals, including singer Alceu Valença (honored personality in Recife/Olinda Carnival 2012), writer Ariano Suassuna, pottery artist Mestre Vitalino, Michael Jackson, Nelson Madela, Barack Obama and others.
When: Carnival Monday (Feb.20, 2012). The crowd will gather at 9 a.m. and the parade itself will start at 10 a.m.
Where: Alto da Sé (where the Sé Church is located. The crowd will move towards the Governors' Palace in Varadouro.
Keep up with all the parade schedules in the Official Olinda Carnival 2012 Guide.