Through the Caribbean islands to the streets of Europe.
Carnival parties are a sight to see, complete with food, entertainment, live music, and bright, outrageous costumes. It’s an experience you won’t want to skip, with anything from shimmering feathery headpieces to wooden shoes. For several, it’s the last chance to let loose and relax until the start of Lent.
For some, it’s a way to focus on and enjoy life’s joys. But, beyond the revelry, several of these festivals have a rich tradition, ranging from masks that permitted lower-class Italians to party openly among the rich to costumes believed to ward off evil spirits in Africa.
To assist you in managing the next Carnival party around the world, we’ve broken down 19 separate parties and what to do before you leave.
Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain
Trinidadians spend the whole year preparing to wow each other—and hundreds of thousands of onlookers—during the Caribbean’s most huge Carnival, where custom-made bathing suit–like outfits, steel drums, native street fair, and street dancing combine to overwhelm the senses.
A key Carnival word to understand is “playing mas,” which refers to dancing through the streets with a costumed Carnival ensemble. To perform in the parade, you must represent one of the bands (hundreds to pick from, and you can sign up online). Your Band will recommend which costumes you can buy.
If you don’t want to do so, you can always attend the street party for free in your own outfit or shorts and a t-shirt. Wear lightweight shoes and light clothes so you can dance in the sun all day.
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro
Nobody holds a party like Brazil, and no Brazilian party compares to Rio Carnaval. It is the world’s largest Carnival festival, drawing millions of people for a week of explosive, flamboyant, samba-shaking activity. Throughout the week, there will be a variety of events, including spontaneous street parades and do not forget to purchasethe ticket for the official Sambodrome parade ahead of time.
The majority of parade participants carry intricate costumes that are typically handcrafted, but spectators also dress loosely for the Sambadrome parade, incorporating tiny accessories such as beads or feather masks. Remember that the weather in February is hot and sticky, but festivalgoers on the street prefer to dress effortlessly for the occasion in jean shorts, airy skirts, and bright tops.
Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras is known as America’s ultimate street party, but New Orleans krewes (social groups that organize parties and balls) celebrate with parades all year, particularly in the weeks leading up to the annual celebration. The parades take place on various streets in New Orleans, and it’s vital to know the roads are for walking and which are only for the floats to ride through.
It’s customary to rock the Mardi Gras colors purple, green, and gold. Thousands of beads and trinkets are often tossed to fans at the parades, much of which you will carry as souvenirs when floats drive by. Popular face masks may also be purchased at local retailers. Don’t forget to bring a light jacket—it gets freezing at night.
Bolivia’s main Carnival celebration honors the indigenous culture and pays tribute to the Virgin of Candelaria. It lasts about ten days and is marked by masks, textiles, and vibrant embroidery by the locals.
It’s better to buy a pass to get a clear view of the shows, which can be purchased at one of the stands along the parade line. Oruro’s streets explode with processions of interpretive folk dancing in devil robes, famous as the Diablada. It’s a cultural anthropologist and photographer’s fantasy.
The traditional folk dancers who serve different ethnic communities dominate the bulk of the clothing worn during Carnival. El Tio is the most common costume (the devil). Thousands of participants would be dressed in horned caps, silk capes, and shimmering metal-like breastplates.
If you intend on participating in the party, it’s better to come dressing casually, rather than in costume, since you’ll get soaked in the festivities. Partygoers can use water balloons, water pistols, and spray foam to celebrate the coming of joyous times. If you don’t want to get soaked, there will be street sellers selling fun ponchos you can buy.
Carnival in Venice is decidedly more exclusive than its rivals in the Western Hemisphere, with fewer street shenanigans and more private celebrations and balls (tickets can be bought on the festival’s official website), where you’re supposed to appear in an over-the-top original outfit or mask.
The plurality of Carnival’s costumes represents the dress of Venetian noblemen and women, giving the event the impression of a massive historical re-enactment. Face masks, which originated in ancient Greek and Roman festivals, are among the most classic costume items, including the Bauta, a typical white mask with a square jaw line and no mouth.
They were used to mask lower-class members so that everybody might participate in the gatherings and activities. These masks, as well as other products, will be available from local street vendors.
We love Rio’s Carnival but go to Salvador, Brazil, to adventure (slightly) fewer Americans and an Afro-Brazilian heartbeat. The blaring sounds of the region’s famous trios elétricos (think: moving live-music trucks)—and very powerful caipirinhas—power the Bahian Carnival.
There are three styles to celebrate Bahian Carnival, and how you wear it will depend on the one you want. You can dance with the crowd on the streets for free and wear anything you want, but locals mostly wear t-shirts and shorts. If you’d rather watch from the sidelines, there are camarotes (cabins) situated along the parade streets. This event requires tickets, and most attendees dress casually.
Finally, suppose you wish to join the party and dance in the Carnival whilst being apart from the crowd and in the center of the procession. In that case, you must purchase a pass and a t-shirt from one of the blocos (different parties competing in the parade) for whom you want to identify.
African, Indigenous, European, and Middle Eastern cultures converge in Colombia’s biggest Carnaval festival in the Caribbean port city of Barranquilla. What’s the genuine excuse to go? This folkloric festival is one of the world’s best, but it draws far fewer foreign visitors than its Latin American counterparts. Both guests are expected to purchase Carnival tickets, so buying them in advance is the best option.
You’ll have more fun in Colombia if you dress up for the parade and blend in with the crowd. There will be several street markets in Barranquilla where you can buy colorful costumes and accessories. Look for feather headbands, face polish, and bright bottoms. It is also essential to be prepared to get filthy. During the festivities, you would undoubtedly be covered with something, ranging from foam to flour.
Also, UNESCO, which recently granted Carnival celebrations world heritage status, acknowledges that the Carnival of Binche, Belgium, is an odd outlier in a country that likes to party. During the street parades, performers such as Gilles wear extravagant feathered caps, and revelers alternate between cultural performances and unexpected practices (such as tossing oranges for good luck).
Binche’s costumes are made up of folklore figures and are worn to pay tribute to ancient customs. The most well-known is the Gilles, which are clown-like supernatural beings distinguished by their colorful outfits with wax masks and wooden boots.
Since Carnival is a sacred ritual for the residents, tourists cannot purchase the Gilles outfit, which can only be leased to official members. Come dressing effortlessly as a fan, and you’ll have plenty of fun admiring imaginative costumes and sampling delicious food.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Are you looking for a two-week party? Visit Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where the streets erupt in wild parties for 15 days straight during Carnival, complete with elaborately plumed costumes and masked revelers.
There’s also the crucial annual selection of Carnival Queen, one of the most significant activities in which contestants march across a stage in the most beautiful and bulky costumes to gain the title. This festival is just second to Rio’s blockbuster activities.
All in Santa Cruz are invited to dress up and participate in the big street party. You have the choice of dressing up in an intricate, colorful costume with embellishments or purchasing body polish, headpieces, and colorful costume accessories (such as wings and hats) from nearby street vendors.
It would be best if you even came dressing comfortably, such as in a tee and trousers. However, most people believe that dressing up is the secret to understanding what Carnival is all about.
The Carnival in Dusseldorf is one of Germany’s best, boldest, and wildest celebrations in the run-up to Ash Wednesday. Anyone in town should expect street parades, rowdy pubs, and even a day devoted solely to family-friendly events.
The Rose Monday parade, which includes 5,000 costumed dancers and lavish, witty floats as political satire, is still the highlight. Partygoers will toss candy and trinkets into the audience at the event.
The first day of Carnival begins with women dressed as witches pretending to abduct the mayor and seize the area. Following that, everybody is invited to dress up in costumes varying from cultural and political to funny.
While Dia de los Muertos is the most famous annual fiesta in Mexico, the country should also be recognized for its numerous Carnival celebrations. Its biggest festival, which takes place along Mazatlán’s malecón, features big spectacular fireworks shows and live music to thrill both families and the raucous party crowd.
If you aren’t going to be in one of the costumed bands at the Mazatlan Carnival, dress casually, wear comfortable shoes, and wear some non-valuable costume jewelry, such as shimmery necklaces and bracelets. It’s also a brilliant idea to wear a sweater since it may get cold at night.
Cadiz, Spain, is just as lively as other Carnival parties, but with a radically different goal: to purge society’s most pressing problems by parody and satire. Chirigotas, or musical performers, can be seen worldwide, showcasing their creative costumes and razor-sharp social criticisms by musical performances.
If you are going to Cadiz for Carnival, you can dress up in costume to participate in the festivities. What’s the better part? Since there are no laws, you can dress up as anything you want, much as you would for Halloween.
If you don’t have time to look for a costume before Carnival, you can buy one from a street seller, who will be selling fun masks, wigs, hats, and accessories so do not forget to bring along cash with you.
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Sydney gay pride and Carnival equals the ultra-fabulous Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, a two-and-a-half-week festival (more extended than other Carnivals) that honors the LGBTQI community with parades, shows, club nights, and many a drag queen–attended gathering. You can also look at the different groups and festivals taking place ahead of time to buy tickets.
In Sydney, anything goes for Mardi Gras, but several festivalgoers prefer to dress in drag and compete with the leading drag queens. Feather boas, Plunging necklines, and body paint are common, but traditional bright clothing still works. Pack things that will help you stay calm and warm during the night.
Carnival is a season in Germany, not a festival. The season of celebration begins months before Ash Wednesday and culminates in multiple days of historic activities leading up to it. Expect to see booze-fueled revelers parading down the streets by day, disguised as the stereotypical clown, and flitting into bars and masquerade balls by night in the dizzying array of celebrations.
The costume choices for Carnival in Cologne are virtually limitless–you can wear anything you want. However, a few typical costumes are part of normal wear, one of which is the loveable fool. The older generation mainly uses it, and you’ll find it on red and white–striped jackets, scarves, and caps. Locals also want to dress up in old-school clown outfits featuring Raggedy Andy-inspired hair (red string wigs) and plenty of polka dots. Throughout the week-long festival, there will also be several street stalls and local shops selling accessories.
You could not associate the Swiss with raucousness, but Basel’s Carnival is one of Europe’s most popular festivities. Every year, an orchestrated procession of about 20,000 revelers marches through the streets (dressed in costumes following the year’s official theme).
Still, the real party starts as everybody splits up and embarks on their own bar crawls through the neighborhood, singing, acting, and boozing for hours.
If you’re going to Basel for Carnival, don’t dress up. Participants want to make a significant difference between the audience and those attending, so performers would be dressed from head to foot in costumes that hide their identity.
Visitors are often discouraged from wearing facial polish, fake noses, or jester hats following cultural customs. If you’re traveling with them, they may get dressed up for the children’s Carnival.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Vincy Mas is the main festival in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, celebrating Vincentian culture, color, and cuisine. The festivities begin in late June and conclude in July with two major street parties: J’Ouvert (which takes place on Monday) and Mardi Gras (the following Tuesday).
Don’t skip out on traditional activities like the Parade of Bands, in which all Masquerade Bands perform for the title of Band of the Year. The song, which ranges from steel pan to calypso and soca, is at the core of Vincy Mas, so musical contests (such as the Soca Monarch competition) are so entertaining.
The parade winds its way across Kingston’s streets before concluding on stage at Carnival City.
Like other Carnivals worldwide, Vincy Mas shaped its character by incorporating elements and traditions from European and African festivals. The parade outfits are adorned with substantial neon feathers, headpieces, and assorted attachments. Spectators can even dress up in costumes, which they may get from a band or nearby street sellers.
There is also a yearly evening street party known as the Parade of the T-shirt Bands, where everybody dresses up in t-shirts from their favorite bands and parades down Kingston’s streets.
Crop Ova is Barbados’ most significant and most famous annual summer festival, thanks to the island’s own Bajan actress, Rihanna. Crop Ova is a 200-year-old festival that commemorates the conclusion of the sugarcane harvest season. It is not religiously significant, but it is included in Carnival due to the Caribbean and African influences.
It starts with an opening gala and concludes with Grand Kadooment day. A few regular activities lead up to the festival, such as music contests like the Soca Royale, visual art shows, and countless street parties. Thousands of Bajans assemble along the Spring Garden Highway to march in masquerade bands and dance.
Today’s outfits are often painted two-piece swimsuit-type items embellished with crystals, feathers, and body polish. If you’re looking for a mask, consider renting or purchasing one from a place like Island Zest. Most people prefer to dress up to blend in with the other festivalgoers, but you should also wear whatever makes you feel good every day.
The Caribana festival, which started in the 1960s as one of the first Caribbean festivals organized outside of the tropical south, is one of the most significant cultural festivals in North America. It started as a means for West Indian and Black Canadian culture and customs to be shared throughout Canadian society.
After months of planning, the city invites thousands of masqueraders dressed in bright costumes to march down Lake Shore Boulevard from Exhibition Spot. If you want to go to Caribana this year, make your reservations early because hotels fill up quickly.
Because of the line-up, you will see a change in costumes during the procession. Those at the front of the line usually sport robes with more prominent feathers and a plethora of diamonds and headpieces. Midline women usually carry more diamonds, lighter feathers, and more extensive wing parts.
The back of the line has fewer embellishments and accessories, making it easy to walk about in than the front line. If you want to be a part of the Caribana parade, prepare ahead of time by choosing a band and purchasing the official costume from them online. If you’re only watching from the stands, a colorful t-shirt, jeans, and airy dresses can help keep you calm all day.
Notting Hill, London
What started in the late 1960s as an offshoot of Trinidadian Carnival has grown into London’s largest street party—and a pride point for Caribbean immigrants in the city to showcase their native cultures.
Spectators will either participate in the fun or watch extravagant floats, and colorfully costumed dancers coiled their way through the streets in the procession, dance to the sounds of steel bands and calypso songs, and visit the numerous food stalls along the road.
Attendees are invited to express their interest and engagement by carrying whistles, bright caps, and big jewels to fully appreciate Carnival. The important thing to remember is to pack and bring stylish, flat, closed-toe shoes as at the end of the day, the parade path will be littered, and you’ll have to tread carefully.
So That’s About It. These are the best and wildest carnival celebrations around the world that give a lot of excitement as a traveler. If you ask about me, I will be thrilled if I can celebrate these. I wish you you can too if you are a traveler. Oh and if you really like to travel, then you don’t wanna miss the travel updates around the world during these Covid guidelines. So to gather all the information, you can follow us on Instagram for daily travel updates. Until then, Be Safe, Be Gentle, Keep traveling. Good Luck.