Carnival Festivities Around the World



Many cultures around the world have different perspectives on certain celebrations. One of the most well-known celebrations that takes place every year at different times all over the world is Carnival. Carnival is a festival that is celebrated all over the world in different ways while being interpreted by many cultures or a mix of cultures as most take place in the first three months of the year.

Mardi Gras- New Orleans, La., United States of America: Mardi Gras or ‘Fat Tuesday’ has origins in European traditions of the 17 and 18 centuries within the House of Bourbon. Mardi Gras used to be an exclusive celebration only celebrated by an elite few whereas nowadays it is celebrated by young and old alike in large amounts. This year, 2018, marks the 300 year anniversary of the celebrations of Mardi Gras. This celebration usually takes place around Jan. 5 to Feb. 13.

At this celebration anything and everything goes. Mardi Gras is known for the colorful beads and cups that will be tossed your way by the passing floats.

The Carnival of Venice- Venice, Italy: The carnival of Venice is said to have started as a celebration by the Venice Republic celebrating its victory over the Patriarch of Aquileia in 1162. The main staple are the masks with many decorations or with the long noses. The normal masks have become a symbol of all the carnival festivities around the world.

The porcelain masks are said to be first worn as protest against class hierarchy around the 13 century.

One has the choice of many mask variants to wear to the streets and canals for a unique Venetian experience. This festivity usually takes place around Jan. 27 to Feb. 13.

Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife- Tenerife, Canary Islands: Said to be the second most popular carnival after the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has been livening the capital of the Canary Islands in many colors for centuries.

This 15-day festival includes a vivid representation of the city into one big colorful party, as a gala to elect the carnival queen; satirical hymns and unparalleled bonhomie dominates the proceedings. This festival usually takes place around Feb. 4 to Feb.18.

Cologne Carnival- Cologne, Germany: The cologne carnival starts with Women’s Carnival Day, a time that women of Cologne wear fancy dresses on their way to work, followed by masked balls and parties by night.

The Carnival shows more of a party aspect to it on the weekend. Its peak is when Rose Monday starts. Then there is a march through Südstadt features a variety of decorated floats in which chocolate boxes, sweets and other trinkets are thrown into the crowd. This festival usually takes place around Feb. 8 to Feb. 13.

Rio Carnival- Rio De Janeiro, Brazil: The most popular carnival by a landslide is Rio’s interpretation of the global festivities. This festival goes back to the year 1723 and attracts over two million people per year. Samba music is at the center of the festival, with over 200 samba schools showing off their samba skills to the public.

The well-known Sambodromo is known for a ringside view of the action or one can dress up and go to one of many street parties in different parts of the enormous city. This festival usually takes place around Feb. 9 to Feb. 14.

The Carnival of Oruro- Oruro, Bolivia: Once an exclusively indigenous celebration, this festival is now a celebration with a strong connection to religious symbolism in the form of Pachamama (mother Earth) and Tio Supay (God of the underworld). This festival revolves around these figures, but the festivities include ‘dance of the devils’ ritual, La Diablada, which represents the triumph of good over evil.

The festival also includes folkloric myths, legends and curious traditions, this carnival is known for changing the norms of everyday life, as one knows. This festival takes place from Feb. 10 to Feb. 13.

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival- Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago: The Caribbean spirit takes center stage at Trinidad and Tobago’s annual carnival. This carnival starts as early as 4:00a.m. on the first day to gather and remember what once was a rebellion against slavery.

At this festival one can get a carnival costume, get some grub sold from roadside vendors, and listen to the rhythms of the many steel pan bands on the streets.  This festival takes place from Feb. 12 to Feb. 13.

Nice Carnival- Nice, France: This festival consists of six carnival parades, 17 floats and thousands of dancers and musicians from all over the world. A popular event is the flower battles (Bataille de Fleurs). This event displays many caravans of flower-covered floats to the streets; they even throw bouquets from the floats.

This year’s carnival is said to have a futuristic space theme. This carnival takes place from Feb. 17 to Mar. 3.

Notting Hill Carnival- London, United Kingdom: This is London’s biggest street party sprung to life in the late 1960’s as an offshoot of the Trinidad Carnival. The music displayed at this carnival includes calypso, soca, reggae, and dub rhythms from various roadside sound systems as well a food from the Caribbean in the city streets.

This carnival is full of events that will keep you busy all day. This carnival takes place later in the year from Aug. 25 to Aug. 27.

Carnival Dominicano- Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Here, they use masks to symbolize spiritual, supernatural and unknown spirit world entities. This carnival started from African slaves bringing celebrations from their countries. It has been celebrated since the mid 1500’s. Locations to go include Ruinas de la Vega Vieja and events to go to include an event in which people dress up as Christians and Moors for a celebration. The Dominican Republic is the first place in the Americas to observe the pre-Lenten carnival custom. This festival usually takes place the entire month of February.

Some other European carnivals that are somewhat well known include the Carnival of Binche of Binche, Belgium (Feb. 11-14), Fasnacht in Basel of Basel, Switzerland (Feb. 19-22), and Copenhagen Carnival of Copenhagen, Denmark (May 18-20).