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Folia de Reis

Where to Find Authentic Three Kings' Day Celebrations in Brazil

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Traditional Folia de Reis, or the celebration of Three Kings' Day, persists in many places in Brazil. Some of are not easy to get to, while others are in or near major cities.

Although Folia de Reis takes many forms and names - Reisado, Terno de Reis, Tiração de Reis - at the core of this tradition brought to Brazil by Portuguese colonizers is a deep religiosity, expressed in music, pantomimes, colorful clothing, visits to homes where there's a nativity scene and other elements which honor the birth of Jesus and reenact the journey and visit of the Three Kings.

These are some well-known Folias de Reis in Brazil.

1. Central West

Some of the cities where Folia de Reis is going strong in the Central West are:

  • Ivinhema. MS
  • Pirenópolis, GO (aka Piri, especially in the Radiolândia district, about 24 miles from downtown)
  • Goiás Velho, GO
  • Brasilia hosts a large meeting of Folia de Reis groups at Parque de Exposições da Granja do Torto on Three Kings' Day. About 20,000 attend.

2. Northeast

One of the most traditional celebrations of Folia de Reis in Brazil can be found in Correntina, Bahia, a city that's closer to Brasilia (310 miles) than to Salvador (609 miles). If you're not willing to travel that far, stay in Salvador, where seven ternos de reis, or Folia de Reis groups, are at the center of great celebrations in the Lapinha district.

Also in Bahia, Lençóis, BA, gateway to Chapada Diamantina, hosts authentic Folia de Reis.

In Fortaleza, where the festivities are called Tiração de Reis, lots of folk groups come to Centro Cultural Dragão do Mar for Three Kings' Day.

3. North

In the North, a very traditional and authentic Folia de Reis celebration can be found in Abaetetuba, Pará. Known as Tiração de Reis, the festivities were visited by Navegar Amazônia, a project which unveiled long-time traditions of the Amazon region during a boat trip.

4. Southeast

There's a wealth of Folias de Reis in the Southeast.

 

  • Paraty, RJ
  • São Luís do Paraitinga, SP
  • Atibaia, SP, is famous for its ternos de congo (a tradition originated by African slaves). 
  • Alto Belo, a district of Bocaiúva, MG (on the weekend following Three Kings' Day). However, new elements (a stage, commercial music) have been added to this large annual meeting of Folia de Reis groups.
  • In Minas Gerais, authentic Folia de Reis can be found in many cities, including Ouro Preto and Guaxupé.

In historic Muqui, ES, 100 miles from Vitória, there's a National Meeting of Folias de Reis, but it takes place in early October (dates vary), to celebrate the city's anniversary.

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