GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — For 51 weekends of the year, visitors to the small Franconian city of Coburg find what they might expect: a charming market square, an 800-year-old fortress and a gigantic historic palace, all surrounded by deep green forest.
But that 52nd weekend, visitors find something very different: the color and sound explosion of the largest samba festival outside of Brazil.
Every year Coburg’s Samba Festival brings together performers, or Sambistas, from Brazil and all over the world, for more than 200,000 fans of the Afro-Brazilian music and dance.
This year’s festival kicks off Friday, July 12 at 6 p.m. in downtown Coburg. Over the three-day party, more than 100 samba groups, each with up to 15 to 40 percussionists and dancers, will perform on stages throughout the city.
In addition to the music and costumes, festival-goers will be able to enjoy traditional Brazilian food, such as Bolinho de Frango, a fried potato dumpling stuffed with chicken, and Feijoada, a hotpot made of beans and fresh pork. Or they can try the Brazilian national drink, Caipirinha, a cocktail of cachaça (brazilian white rum), limes, brown sugar and crushed ice.
The festival ends Sunday. The day starts with a church service at the downtown stage, and then at noon, the grand parade winds its way through the market square — a final chance for visitors to admire the dazzling costumes and the beat of the drums.