Although a small city, Ouro Prêto once played an important role in Brazil, not just in the economic aspect but in the cultural aspect as well.
Aside from being the country’s source of gold, the city was also considered among the most important musical hubs in Brazil during the 18th Century. At that time, around 250 music enthusiasts from Ouro Prêto had been active throughout the state. Today, the city’s culture is best seen and experienced in its festivals.
Three of the main festivals in the city are the Carnaval, Holy Week, and the Winter Festival.
Just like most cities in Brazil, the people in Ouro Prêto turn into their festive mood during Carnaval (Carnival). The event, participated mostly by the city’s younger locals, is marked by street parties and music coming from loudspeaker trucks. If you intend to visit the city during this time, make sure to get a reservation in your accommodation as tourists are expected to increase during this time.
The Holy Week, on the other hand, is a manifestation of the city’s religiosity. A Roman Catholic city, like many Brazilian cities, the event is marked by several activities commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many tourists who’ve been to the city would say that Ouro Prêto holds one of the most lavish yet emotive processions on the Holy Week. Among the celebration’s highlights is the removal of Christ from the cross which happens on Good Friday.
The last but probably the most celebrated and most famous festival in Ouro Prêto is the Winter Festival. An art festival organized by the Universidade Federal de Ouro Prêto or the Federal University of Ouro Prêto, the event is marked by several activities, including workshops, concerts, plays, and lectures. It joins together two of Minas Gerais’ neighboring towns of Ouro Prêto and Mariana which are only about nine miles apart. Taking place every July, it also brings together different artists from all over Brazil.
If you are familiar with the Portuguese language, the festival’s workshops would be very fun to be. With topics ranging from the folklore of Minas Gerais to its music and photography, it is also a great venue to get to know the state.
Although Ouro Prêto has already been stripped of its glory days, its culture still stood rich and left marks of its prosperous past. Aside from its attractions, it’s also good for tourists to experience the city’s unique culture.