The culture and traditions of Brazil will be celebrated Saturday night in an annual event at Liberty Hall.
Imagine 600 people in costume amid a brightly decorated auditorium swaying to live Samba music and a chance to win free tickets to Rio de Janeiro.
That is the planned atmosphere for Saturday night at Liberty Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts, where members of Kansas University's Brazil-Portugal Student Assn. will hold the 17th Annual Brazilian Carnival.
"It will be a sold-out party," said Rubens Gomes, secretary of the student group. "It's a great event, it's a totally Brazilian event."
The Carnival will be from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., with live Samba music planned from 10:30 p.m. to midnight.
Awards for the best costumes will be given, along with a drawing for several prizes, including free airline tickets to Rio.
Carnival, explained KU professor Antonio Simoes, is a Brazilian tradition that dates to the 16th century. The first modern Carnival in Brazil was in 1899.
"It started from a holiday in Portugal," said Simoes, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese.
Three days of eating, drinking and parades were held in preparation for Lent, he said.
"The idea was that before you start abstinence and fasting, you have these three days" to indulge, he said.
"In Brazil, it coincides with African Religious holidays" this time of year, he said. "(That) made it stronger in Brazil because the number of blacks in Brazil is very high."
In Brazil today, the country virtually shuts down during the annual holiday. People dressed in costumes participate in parades, Samba contests and other events through the day and night, Gomes said.
"It's a huge event," he said.
In addition, Samba contests that "are almost important as soccer" are held, Simoes said. "In Brazil they root for one soccer team and one school of Samba."
Up to 1,200 people have attended Lawrence's Brazilian event in past years.
"This is an event where people wear costumes, like Mardi Gras," Gomes said. "It's just a lot of fun for people who enjoy a cultural experience."
People from as far away as Iowa and Arkansas have made arrangements to attend the local event, Gomes said.
Tickets are available at Liberty Hall. He said he expected all to be sold by Saturday night.