Carnival is symbol of joy and creativity, conjuring up images of costumed parades and musical performances that unite both locals and tourists in a shared celebration. With the end of winter in sight, we’re in the mood for light and color. Here are our favorite carnivals among the dozens of renowned events across the world.
The Rio Carnival: samba and caipirinhas
Imagine breathtaking processions, shimmering costumes, and live music on every street corner. The Rio Carnival is defined by joy, authenticity, and lightheartedness. This is such a long-awaited event for both Brazilians and visitors alike that the festivities often begin more than a month before the official date. The prior weeks are filled with preparations, rehearsals, and costume-making, before the seven-day celebration finally starts! The “main stage” for this event is the renowned “Sambadrome,” a long avenue that serves as the setting for samba schools dancing under the burning sun. And don’t forget the public dances, official concerts and improvised jam sessions. A totally unique experience.
From March 2 through 9.
The Venice Carnival: masks and mischief
Elegance, mystery, and originality are the watchwords at the famous carnival held in the iconic Italian city. The event traditionally kicks off every year with the Festa delle Marie and the historical procession. But what really sets the Venice Carnival apart are the sublime masks featured since the Renaissance and which inspired many other carnivals across the world. Whether you’re attending a private party in one of the city’s majestic palaces, wandering across the Piazza San Marco, or exploring the waterways in a gondola, you’re sure to feel as though time is standing still as you enjoy unforgettable moments in an enchanting setting.
From February 23 through March 5.
The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival: music and magical costumes
Parades, fanfares, and frenzied dances set the tone for the Carnival in the island state of Trinidad and Tobago off the coast of Venezuela. Needless to say, they know how to party in the Caribbean! The festive atmosphere is largely created by the sounds of “calypso,” an African-inspired style of music and the “steel drum bands” – groups of percussionists playing instruments made from metal barrels. The Carnival lasts for three straight days, culminating in a costume competition! And did you know? The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival inspired the Notting Hill Carnival in London, which sees calypso, steel drum bands, and Caribbean specialties showcased for two days every year in the ultra-trendy neighborhood of the English capital.
From March 3 through 6 for Trinidad and Tobago, and from August 24 through 26 for Notting Hill.
The Nice Carnival: flowers and color
This Carnival offers allegorical floats, illuminated parades, dancers, and musicians from the four corners of the globe in a magnificent spectacle against the backdrop of the Mediterranean! Our favorite part is the “Battle of the Flowers,” a procession featuring magnificent floats strewn with fresh flowers that are then thrown joyfully into the crowd. A wonderful homage to local growers and a celebration of the upcoming spring season. Nice Carnival is renowned the world over and is the largest of its kind in France, rounded off in style with a stunning firework display!
From February 16 through March 2.
The New Orleans Carnival: floats and fanfares
You guessed it: jazz is the guest of honor at the New Orleans Carnival. But that’s not all! The processions are also things of true beauty, boasting floats decorated with different themes, magnificent costumes, joyous fanfares, and the air filled with pearls, candy, gifts, and streamers. Needless to say, the event has a very characteristic festive atmosphere. And did you know? Gold, green, and purple are the Carnival’s three official colors, respectively symbolizing power, faith, and justice.
From February 16 through March 5.
These are just a few of the world’s finest carnivals, and we haven’t even mentioned Tenerife, Quebec, Cologne, Basel, or Copenhagen… Now it’s up to you to choose your destination and how you want to dress up and celebrate!