Carnaval of the Island of Terceira, Azores.
Bailinhos, Sword and Tambourine Dances

Whatever the origin of the Carnaval of Terceira Island, there is no doubt that is a very popular, cultural event and also very different from other ways to celebrate Carnaval in other places and countries. It is increasingly common for frequent visits by tourists and scholars to the phenomenon known as Carnaval of the Island of Terceira.

Adherence to this event is so popular that it even made the famous "three days of Carnaval" into four, thus beginning the event on Saturday instead of Sunday as usual.

Plus, now with the novelty of the Carnaval Dances for the elderly, which are increasingly elaborate and stunning, Carnaval is starting two or three weeks before the normal schedule, so that many more participants of this big event can come and lend a helping hand to our seniors, as they call themselves now, and then be available to attend dances at the right time. Thus we have a double dose of the Carnaval Dances of Terceira. Providing the public with more to gain, as more and more people of all ages have the right to enjoy themselves, whether participating in dances or watching as spectators.


For those who participate as a musician, dancer or actor on stage, the
practices are an opportunity for fun. It is not easy to explain and
understand who never belonged to a Dance or Bailinho of Carnaval.

Perhaps the best way to explain it is to compare it with the feeling of brotherhood that is generated in certain groups who have to face the same dangerous situation as someone else or to a large degree of adrenaline. It can be compared with the connection between people who make the recruits together, or studying in the same university, or participating in the same camp, etc..

The separation of music and plot

Some groups choose to separate the practices of musicians from the actors because the actors are not able to concentrate with musicians determining the the best musical tones nor musicians playing music while actors are repeating their lines continuously.

Often those who make the music or choreography, is not the same person writing the plot for the Bailinho or dance. In the early days, there was a more efficient separation of practice in different spaces.

Two to three weeks before Carnaval is to begin, the two sides join and then it begins, provding a rough idea of how the performance will result in the social halls.

The clothes and seamstresses

When you open the stage curtain , the first impact that people feel in the social halls or cultural associations are caused by the clothing that the group presents. It is customary to use sequence, bright ribbons and ornaments in abundance with feathers that flutter with the rhythmic choreography.

The measuring and the samples of the costumes are also surrounded by plenty of humor, because the tailor or seamstress who keep the measurements from one year to another make humurous comments to weight gain of their customers.

The sissy, the drunk, the old man and the fool

Possibly a year has not passed in Carnaval in which there is at least one character that is not sissy, a silly old man, a drunk or fool. It appears that the people of Terceira learned to see these characters at their funniest and therefore more forceful in their criticism in humorous situations on a daily basis.

The tables with snacks

It is well known, Carnaval of Terceira is free for the audience. The way to repay all the participants on stage is to offer an invitation to snack willingly at the 'table' full of sweets, snacks and beverages prepared by various committees like the halls and other employees volunteers.

Mishaps during live performances are the funniest

It is said that 'no one is offended from Carnaval', mostly when the mistakes in the middle of a performance occur. The way the group reacts to these situations is with improvisation in fact, often even funnier than the own lines memorized. These 'mishaps' cause often times lot of laughter from several followers scattered about the Island.

The radio broadcasts, television and internet

Previously the stage was occupied by spectators with their cassette recorders, recording the old performances in succession. It was the way to remember the joys of Carnaval for the rest of the year or so a bid very valuable for the immigrant relatives in America or Canada.

Today everything is easier due to new technology that has resulted in creation of actual companies generating footage of Carnaval performances with great quality as it is done with respect to bullfights.

The relationship with Carnaval of Azorean, immigrant communities

For those who have visited communities of Azorean immigrants in America, Canada and elsewhere in the world, note the strength of certainty that the Carnaval of Terceira is the leader between Carnaval held in the Azores and what happens in any other geographic place.

Because of this appreciation for the Carnaval, the people pertaining to Terceira around the world, it is common for to invite Carnaval Dances from abroad to perform with them, and the contrary with Carnaval Dances of immigrant communities are invited to make their tour at 'home'.

The frenzy of performances

Adrenaline runs in the blood of the dancers in the four days of Carnaval. All want to give your best and nobody wants to embarrass those who supported them:relatives, the parish, the Social Halls. Moreover, what remains is on the DVD, recorded forever.

Another excercise during these days is to try and make the most of their performances and continue without bumping into other Carnaval Dances that have already taken a turn at any given Social Hall.

The weariness of those glory days are won heroically and nobody has time for sickness. During the rest of the year, there will be time for sad things.

The Ash Wednesday

For many, those who performed and those who attended, this is by far the most sad Wednesday of the year, for it means the end of Carnaval, for this year.


An interpretation of: "Carnaval da Ilha Terceira Açores." http://carnaval.ilhaterceira.net/


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