The Brazilian Independence Day Festival in New York City

by Christine Bryant

The Brazilian Day Festival celebrates the country's Independence Day with a colorful event held each year in New York City. The festival, which attracts more than a million visitors, reaches out to the Brazilian community, especially those that live within New York and its boroughs. The festival includes music, food and dancing, as well as a procession that kicks off the annual event.

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History

The Brazilian Independence Day Festival has been a staple of Little Brazil --- a New York City neighborhood at 46th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan near Times Square --- since 1984, growing from a small neighborhood celebration into one that stretches 25 blocks. Visitors come from as far away as Asia and Africa to celebrate Brazil's independence. The festival takes place at the beginning of September sometime around Brazil's Independence Day, September 7.

Attractions

Although the festival's entertainment and attractions vary from year to year, the event typically features musical artists --- many of Brazilian descent. Past years have included Lulu Santos, Jorge Benjor, Daniela Mercury and Banda Eva. Food, dance performances and shopping also make up the event, with restaurant vendors offering sample Brazilian foods such as moquecas, acarajes and abaras. Artisan crafters also have hand-made products such as jewelry, quilts and even bathing suits available for sale, as well as souvenirs from the event such as T-shirts and Brazilian flags. Since 2008, the event also has included a pageant that features Brazilian women as contestants and in which the audience picks the winner.

Cleansing

A procession through Little Brazil --- known as the Cleansing of 46th Street or "A Lavagem da Rua 46" --- kicks off the Brazilian Day Festival. The cleansing first became a part of the event in 2008 and has since attracted thousands to watch a series of performances on 46th Street at the beginning of the festival. Dressed in white and wearing beads and rosaries, Bahianas lead the procession. Each Bahiana carries a vase that is filled with perfumed water and flowers --- an act that symbolizes the purification of the procession. They carry the vases either in their hands or on top of their heads. Brazilian artists then perform to the sounds of traditional instruments, followed by the opening ceremony that officially begins the festival.

Visiting

Organizers of the Brazilian Day Festival have partnered with hotels in the New York City area to offer several accommodations packages for visitors. The packages typically last for the duration of the festival and availability is limited. Hotels in the past that have offered special deals include Courtyard New York, Hotel Bedford and New York Helmsley. Some of the hotel packages can be found on the festival's website (brazilianday.com).

Photo Credits

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