The whole world loves to party and just about every country on earth has their own carnival celebrations. Time your visit to include one of these incredible festivals and you’ll be in for a real treat!
Notting Hill Carnival, UK, 25 – 26 August 2013
The Notting Hill Carnival is held in the central London borough of Kensington and Chelsea each year in August, over a million people travel to London in order to get take in the sights and sounds of this colorful festival and carnival. The Notting Hill Carnival is held over two days; a Sunday and the traditional August bank holiday Monday. This carnival has been held annually since 1965 and is the biggest street festival in Europe with over 2 miles of costumed entertainers, food vendors and various bands and artists. With a Caribbean theme in mind, enjoy west-Indian flair with bejewelled costumes, bands and entertainers who seek to turn heads. Check out the traditional Monday parade that includes an array of dancers, entertainers and world-class float designs.
Rio Carnival, Brazil, 9 – 12 February 2013
The bigger than life city of Rio de Janeiro is the home of one of the largest and most colorful carnivals in the world. The Rio carnival is boasting with artistic highlights ranging from dance to some of the hottest and freshest music in the area. Samba music takes center stage as all of the band members come out to celebrate at this annual event. Enjoy colorful headdresses and costumes that will transport you to another world as you engage in the fast-paced atmosphere of this one-of-a-kind event. Some of the activities include the Champions Parade with fireworks, Carnival formal event balls as well as street bands and contestants in full carnival attire.
Spain Carnival, February 2013
The Carnival in Spain is held the week before Lent and is designed to let everyone unwind and party and celebrate! Starting with the crowning of the Queen of Carnival, a parade of contestants take stage in stellar and flamboyant dresses made from the finest satins in bright colours highlighted with feathers and beads. The highlight is the masquerade attire. You are encouraged to dress to your liking and pulling no stops for no one. The Spanish carnival is celebrated across all of Spain including the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. Notable festivities are held at the Carnival of Cádiz in Andalusia, Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Carnival of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands and the Catalonia Festival held in Solsona, Lleida
Croatia Carnival, Easter 2013
The Croatia Carnival is also in advance of lent. The difference is that the Croatian carnival is focused on frightening evil spirits away. The carnival is masquerade attire in particular the zvoncari. This group takes center stage in their black suits, white shirts and white masks. Them along with other masked characters parade through the streets ringing bells to ward off spirits. They also present an effigy that is burned to symbolize a healthy, new beginning. Both Christian and Pagan religions come together to welcome spring and advance the Lent holiday. Drinking and dancing are welcomed and engaged upon by all.
Trinidad & Tobago Carnival, 11-12 February 2013
Are you lucky enough to be travelling to the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago? The carnival here rivals some of the greatest colour and flashiness of carnivals worldwide. Revelry, creativity and euphoric activity surround this carnival that takes place near Ash Wednesday during the Easter period every year. Masquerade takes center stage with heart pumping music and spectacular costumes dressed in every colour of the rainbow. The carnival kicks off at 4am on Monday in the darkness and is fuelled only by costume fitted dancers and soca music that fills the air with life. Using chocolate, mud, paint and oil, devils, demons, imps and monsters take to the streets. As the light reaches the sky, the masquerade begins. Characters take to the streets with colorful beaded costumes, moving rhythmically to street music.
Quebec Winter Carnival, Canada, 1 – 17 February 2013
The Quebec Winter Carnival takes place in the heart of winter. This Canadian carnival is more about parading through the streets with beads and bedazzled head dresses. Ice, games and winter sports take center stage. The carnival is jammed back of dog sled racing competitions, sleigh race, snow sculpture contest, snow bathing, table soccer, ice skating and sledding. Check out the one of a kind Bonhomme’s Ice Palace—the official palace home of the carnival. Over 50 meters wide and 20 meters deep as well as an impressive 20 meters high. The palace lights up at night welcoming visitors a unique experience and respite from the carnival festivities.
The Carnival of Venice, Italy, 2 – 6 February 2013
Bring out some of the most intricate and most beautiful disguises one could wear. The Carnival of Venice in Italy boasts its mask tradition with distinct masquerade masks that honours the Patriarch of Ulricho dating back to 1162. Masks and elaborate attire has taken center stage at the carnival. A lot of work goes into making a unique mask that stands out. Some are made from porcelain, leather, gesso, gold leaf, and even glass. Their delicate nature boasts intrigue and fascination with the fashion forwardness of the carnival goers.
Mardi Gras, New Orleans, USA, 12 February 2013
Mardi Gras in downtown New Orleans is one of the most famous carnivals in the U.S. The parades are the highlight of the carnival. New Orleans and the Mardi Gras parade committee enforce strict regulations around this event. Masks are to be worn at all times when float riders are on floats. It is a city law. One of the highlights of the carnival is the throwing of bead necklaces—dating back to the 1870s. The colorful throws include beads, doubloons, stuffed animals and cups.
India, Goa Carnival, 9 – 12 February 2013
This popular carnival in India focuses on colorful attire with dancers and float processions throughout Goa in India. The three day event runs both day and night with lively exuberance. The streets of Goa are abuzz with colourful processions, magical floats and plenty of dancers and musicians.
Germany Carnival, 7 – 13 February 2013
The Germany carnival uses larger than life sized heads and celebrates with parades and costume balls. Celebrations are held across the country with notable parades and parties at the Rheinish Carnival and Cologne Carnival. Beer takes center stage and is the main revolving point for most carnival festivities. Work and most public facilities are closed during this carnival event.
By Julie Bowman