Brazil’s spotlight year of 2016 focused plenty on the nation’s most famous beach town, Rio de Janeiro, mainly because the Olympic Games. Whether you were in Rio or not for last year’s Olympics, make this year your reason to get outside the traditional tourist track by heading to Bahia, where there’s just as much sun, sand and samba. Check out some top reasons to visit Bahia this year.
Bahia Metal Festival
While Bahia is full of places to experience the traditional beats of Brazil, like samba and bossa nova, this year you can check out an edgy sound at the Bahia Metal Festival. This is the festival’s third year, and takes place on the weekend of May 20-21.
Rock in Rio Vermelho
For a more accessible version of Rock in Rio, head to Salvador for Rock in Rio Vermelho, a music festival with some of Bahia’s best cover bands. With tributes to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Alice in Chains already lined up, this music festival promises to be a bash to remember.
Festa de São João
Head outside of the typical Rio beach scene to get a deeper look into Brazil’s culture. The Festa de São João, or Saint John’s festival will be held this June and is essentially a fall harvest festival. Experience this festival’s intimate music and dance of forró, traditional foods and crafts which make Bahia unique.
Festa de Santa Bárbara
Bahia’s blend of religious traditions is another way to experience a special part of Brazil that most travelers to Rio never see. Check out the Festa de Santa Bárbara, a tribute to the goddess of the winds, Iansã, which is held on December 4. Attend the church mass or wait outside to watch the procession through the historic Pelourinho district.
Looking for a beach getaway that’s worthy of Hollywood elite but doesn’t have the pretentious air? Then head to Bahia’s surf town of Trancoso, where Beyoncé has reportedly visited twice and her sister Solange made her honeymoon getaway. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has settled into Trancoso as well, creating a coastal hideaway you’ll want to discover for yourself.