Contests, costumes, floats, excitement, dancing in the street, music and rhythm from sunrise to sunset. All this and more happens at Carnival, a party that brings light, that announces that the good weather is on its way and that invites you to take off your mask, be yourself and enjoy a popular and unforgettable experience.
But not all carnivals are the same; each one has its own identity and, therefore, they attract a different public. Here we share 5 of the best carnivals in the world and which you can enjoy during your vacation:
Rio de Janeiro’s carnival
The biggest, most spectacular and most famous celebration in the world, the Rio Carnival has become synonymous with the festive spirit of both Rio and Brazil. The event usually takes place five days before Lent. Rio is always guaranteed to become a cacophonous riot of color and music.
At the purpose-built Sambódromo, more than 100 samba schools battle to be crowned the best, but there are parties, parades and music in neighborhoods across the city.
Notting Hill Carnival
Billed as Europe’s biggest street party, Notting Hill Carnival brings the colour, music and spirit of the Caribbean to West London every August bank holiday weekend. As in Rio, the parade is the central focus, but the party continues along the route long after the various samba schools and drum groups have passed.
New Orleans Mardi Gras
The most famous carnival in the United States, the one in New Orleans is a non-stop cacophony of jazz bands, late-night bars, and an over-the-top parade honoring mythological figures like Bacchus and King Zulu.
From early January with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, to Shrove Tuesday in February, Mardi Gras is famous for its beaded necklaces, thrown by revelers on French balconies overlooking the parade. Getting the most necklaces, and wearing them, is a point of pride for many of the party-goers.
Held every February, before Lent, the Carnevale di Venezia begins with a religious procession through Saint Mark’s Square. Now one of the most famous mask festivals in the world, the sight of thousands of people wearing delicate masks made of leather, glass or porcelain is something to behold, especially against the atmospheric backdrop of this great ancient city.
The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is big, brash, loud and second only to Rio’s carnival in size. Known as the Corso, it has hundreds of musical groups and dance companies that parade through the streets of the capital playing and dancing. The centerpiece of the parade is a large float carrying the Carnival Queen, a great honor to celebrate on these small islands.