Visiting Parintins, Brazil and the Boi Bumba Festival on the Amazon River

Catholic Church in Parintins, Brazil

Tripsavvy / Linda Garrison 

Parintins is a small town of about 80,000 people on the Amazon River in Brazil, about 350 miles from Manaus. The village is 200 years old and has a rich Amazonia heritage. Each June, Parintins hosts the famous Boi Bumba Festival, and tens of thousands of visitors pour into the town for the week-long party. Many festival-goers even sleep in hammocks on the boats that carried them to Parintins. This festival is one of many such festivals in Brazil.

The Boi Bumba is really a friendly competition that started between two Parintins' families prior to 1920. The legend involves a young woman, her husband, a bull, and a happy ending. The Boi Bumba Festival involves a lot of music, dancing, costumes, and huge animal floats. It's all great fun, and we had a special "out of season" sample of the Boi Bumba when we visited Parintins from an Amazon River cruise on the ​​​Regent Seven Seas Mariner cruise ship.​

01 of 09

Blue Coca Cola Sign for Caprichosos Team

Old Coca Cola sign on Parintins Building
Linda Garrison

Those from the USA are used to seeing red Coca Cola signs.

The two teams competing in the Boi Bumba festival each year are the Caprichosos (blue team) and the Garantidos (red team). This shop must belong to a Caprichosos supporter.

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02 of 09

Amazon River Town and Home of the Boi Bumba Festival

Horses are one of the main forms of transportation in Parintins
Linda Garrison

This donkey cart is one of the two major means of transportation in Parintins. The other is via motorcycle or motor bike.

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03 of 09

Caiman Statue

Caiman statue in Parintins, Brazil
Linda Garrison

Caimans are often seen along the Amazon River, and the citizens of Parintins recognize this common reptile.

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04 of 09

Main Street in Parintins

Main Street in Parintins, Brazil
Linda Garrison

Parintins is a small town of about 80,000 residents. For three days each June, the population may grow to several hundred thousand for the Boi Bumba Festival.

Parintins receives over half its annual income during the three-day Boi Bumba Festival. Families rent out their entire homes or just a bed. Others sell all sorts of Boi Bumba souvenirs—CDs, DVDs, or memorabilia. Over 45,000 pack the local stadium to see the Blue Team and Red Team compete. Downtown Parintins is dotted with blue or red oxen or other Boi Bumba symbols.

All these motorcycles look like there must be some type of rally in Parintins. However, motorcycles are just the most common form of transportation for residents.

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05 of 09

Stuffed Piranha Memorabilia

Stuffed piranha in Parintins, Brazil
Linda Garrison

Not many visitors to Parintins can resist buying one of these stuffed piranhas.

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06 of 09

Boi Bumba Festival

Boi Bumba Festival on the Amazon River in Parintins, Brazil
Linda Garrison

The Boi Bumba Festival is filled with floats, music, drums, singing, and dancing. 

Many cruise ships visit Parintins, Brazil in the winter months of the northern hemisphere, but the Boi Bumba Festival is in June. For the Seven Seas Mariner cruise ship passengers, the locals put on a mini-Boi Bumba show in the practice facility of the Caprichosos (blue team).

The Boi Bumba story is a simple one. Catarina, a young pregnant newlywed, is craving ox tongue. She begs her husband Francisco to bring her the tongue of his bosses' prize oxen bull. Since Francisco cannot resist his beautiful wife's desires, he kills the bull and gives her the tongue. His boss is furious and vows to punish the person who slays his favorite prize ox. A worried Francisco consults with a priest and a shaman and begs them to bring the ox back to life. After much praying and dancing, the priest and the shaman succeed, and everyone lives happily ever after. The pageant we witnessed had a beautiful bride and a bull, but the rest was more entertainment than opera. The Boi Bumba had very loud music and drums, amazing floats, and gorgeous costumes worn by beautiful young people. It was a fun-filled afternoon for all of us.

The Boi Bumba Festival in June is also a friendly competition between two teams that pack the stadium each night of the pageant with their supporters. Judges score the teams on the quality of their presentation and the good behavior and support of their fans.

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07 of 09

Boi Bumba Pageant

Boi Bumba Festival on the Amazon River
Linda Garrison

This mini-Boi Bumba pageant was in an open air arena, but at least all the guests had seats in the shade.

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08 of 09

Parade Floats

Boi Bumba Festival on the Amazon River in Parintins, Brazil
Linda Garrison

These giant floats are amazing and help tell the Boi Bumba story. 

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09 of 09

Parade Costumes

Boi Bumba Festival on the Amazon River
Linda Garrison

This costume looks very heavy, doesn't it?

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