Boi Bumba – “Beat the Bull”, A Popular Tale Throughout Northeastern Brazil Told Before a Crowd of 1,000s!

A tale as old as time is retold in dramatic fashion at the annual Boi Bumba Festival in Brazil!

What is Boi Bumba?

boi bumba

Boi Bumba is translated to “Beat the Bull”.

The Boi Bumba Festival is entirely based around the ancient Brazilian tale of a bull being defeated. The story is so well known and so widely told that almost everyone would have heard it during their lifetime. The tale date back to the initial Amazon inhabitants of Brazil, colonists from Portugal and the arrival of Catholicism to the country.

This story inspires the creativity of an entire county—from a theatrical production, to incredible parade, amazing puppets , awesome music, and incredible dancers, the people of Brazil really go all out to tell the Boi Bumba tale. You will not find this kinda experience from any other festivals around the world.

Beating What Bull?
The story of Boi Bumba is centered around two characters- Mae Catarina and Pai Francisco. Mae and Pai are a young married couple that don’t have much money. Mae is pregnant and often has cravings for the tongue of a bull or boi. Pai Francisco, being the dutiful husband that he is, goes to the farm of his wealthy neighbor to steal a prize winning ox.

Pai Francisco kills the bull to give his wife the tongue, but the farmer discovers this crime and arrests Pai. Now before another murder is committed, a little magic is added to the story, A shaman and/or priest is called in to bring the bull back to life and, thus, everyone is happy once again.

One of the most interesting aspects of this story is that it is told from the perspective of all of the characters involved. What may seem like a child’s tale, turns into a battle of morals and situational ethics.

Boi Bumba of Parintins 
Boi Mumba is popularized throughout Brazil and celebrated at many different times of the year. However the largest celebration and competition of Boi Bumba takes place in Parintins, Brazil. Every year during the last weekend of June, thousands flock to the Bumbodromo to witness the drama surrounding the bull.

The competition that takes place at the Parintins celebration is played out by the Garantido team and the Caprichoso team, which date back to the intial famiy bloodlines of early Brazil. Attendees supporting the Caprichoso’s will dress to support their bluu that wears black with a blue star on its head. The Garantido’s wear costumes to reflect their bule that wears white with a red heart on its head.

Throughout the three days of the festival, the story of Boi Bumba is told from these multiple viewpoints and attendees get to celebrate again and again with dancing, drumming, costumes and partying. Though there are two major sides, there are six stage shows in the bull competition. In order for you to have the full experience, be prepared to attend each event. Though the story may be simple, the theatrics and drama of each are different each time. Boi Bumba really does a great job keeping attendees enthralled.

Welcome to Parinitins
The best Boi Bumba celebration does indeed take place in Parintins, Brazil. Parintins is rather secluded, about 350 miles from the nearest town, hidden far into the rain forest.

Making your way to Parintins is not an easy feat, so prepare yourse.f It isn’t uncommon for the trip to take around up to 50 hours by boat. Many people end up lodging on only a hammock. Do as much research as possible to ensure you don’t get lost in the rain forest.

Getting to Parintins
Grabbing a flight into Brazil isn’t really that difficult, but getting into Parintis can be a feat like no other. The most authentic way, as mentioned before, to get to Parintins is trhgought the boat right that lasts more than a day! However, if you fly out from the town of Manaus you should reach there in one hour. When boking accommodatiuons in the city, check out local hotels boats, and houses that are up for rent. Whatever you do, book in advance!

 Dressing for Boi Bumba
boi bumba

Wear costumes in honor of the bull, don the colors of the two competing families, dress in clothes you’ll be ready to party in!

Feel free to go all out when dressing for Boi Bumba. Wear costumes in honor of the bull, don the colors of the two competing families, dress in clothes you’ll be ready to party in!

Whether you decide to try for a more traditional look or bot, avoid wearing tribal headresses or anything like it. Many tribes find it offensive.  Keep in mind as you trek to and through Parintins, that you should have a variety of outfits. It’s a good idea to bring heavy duty attire to prevent mosquitoes and other insects from attacking. Do bring waterproof shoes or rain boots to keep your feet protected throughout your journey. Do bring a pair of classy shoes with you in case you go out to a restaurant or club after the festivities.

Tips for Boi Bumba
When you’re heading to Boi Bumba be prepared. You may need to  get travel shots before you leave if you are flying in from a different country so definitely make arrangements for that. Be sure as well to have your passport renewed months in advance as the process does take a while. Prepare yourself for heading into the rainforest town of Parintins– mosquitoes are no joke! Invest in some heavy duty mosquito repellant and some sunscreen.

Along with preparing your paperwork for travel, try to exchange some of your currency as well so you will be prepared incase you need to hail a cab, go shopping, or eat at any of the local restaurants. The most important thing you can bring along with you is an open mind that is ready for new experiences!

Outside of the Festival
When you are just arriving into Brazil, many attendees like to do tours and visits of the galpãos, or warehouses where costumes for Boi Bumba are creates, stored and shipped out. Seeing the props and costumes up close and in person before their debut on the big stage is an exciting experience that children and adults alike enjoy. Many people find these creations to be both beautiful and terrifying.In addition to checking out the rest of Brazil, while you are visiting Parintins, try to explore the area a little.Some of the most popular places in the area include taking a boat ride on the Parananema Lake, visiting the Itaracuera Beach with family, exploring the country side and Indian Village of the Serra Da Valeria and visiting the many other lakes in the area. Check out the Curral do Boi Garantido and the Curral do Boi Caprichoso for a closer look into the heavy competition that surrounds the Boi Bumba festivities.Stop by the Cine da Paz Theater for a trip into Brazilian culture.Stay a few extra days to get the full Brazil experience. After the festival, head into Rio for some of Brazil’s best sites and sounds. Take a trip into the Sugarloaf Mountain Range for a meditative climb and calming experience. Visit the Copacabana beaches of Rio for an iconic look into the mesmerizing city. Ipanema is another beach that is not to be missed as you will be kicking yourself if you leave he country without stopping by. If you haven’t had your fill of rain forests yet, be sure to visit the Tijuaca Forest for waterfalls, hiking and much more.

Tickets and Pricing
Tickets for the festival are relatively inexpensive. The main cost of your excursion will come from travel expenses. Visit the Boi Bumba website for the best information on which airlines to book, where to stay, what shuttles to take, and even what boats to ride into Parintins with.Health and Safety
If you do end up taking a boat into Parintins, try to stick close to your group! You don’t want to end up falling off the boat or possibly getting lost in the rain forest. Be respectful of what your guides tell you and follow their lead. A lot of Boi Bumba hinges on tradition and if you are unfamiliar with it, its best to learn and understand before diving in head first.When it comes to safety at Boi Bumba, don’t travel alone. Always have a buddy with you, as you would at any other festival. If the language barrier may prove to be a problem, consider learning key words in Portugese before heading out to Brazil. If anything, trying to know basic phrases like “Where is the bathroom?” will make your trip a bit easier on everyone.Through three days of dancing, walking, and incredible travel, you may forget to take care of your basic bodily needs. Remembering to stay hydrated is incredibly important, so set reminders on your phone if you have to. Try to take vitamins with you as well so you can keep up your stamina and immune system to keep the party going all weekend long.So if this is your first trip to Brazil or your fifteenth, it’s never to late for a trip to Boi Bumba!

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