With its bright lights and colors, frenetic music and dancing, the euphoric collective vivacity, and justified transgressions, the carnival is undoubtedly the maximal expression of the hidden human nature. But for those like us, who think only about their next destination, the carnival is the ideal opportunity for a journey to discover ancient traditions, for a fun and unforgettable experience.
To help you decide your next travel destination, here we bring you the 10 most beautiful and famous carnivals in the world!
10. Carnaval de Nice – Nice, France
In the 10th position, we find the beautiful French town. The Carnaval de Nice celebrations are among the most spectacular on the planet.
When does it start: around mid-February
How long does it last: over 15 days
Why it’s famous: Parades with allegorical floats, street musicians, and dancers are held on festive days. Particularly famous is the flower parade, during which thousands of colorful flowers are thrown onto the crowd.
9. Celebrations of Panaji – Panaji, India
The celebrations in Panaji, the capital of the Goa district in India, are a true festival of lights and colors that offers a unique show for everyone.
When does it start: 3 days before Shrove Tuesday
How long does it last: 3 days; however, it takes several days to prepare for the holiday which allows diffusion of the playful atmosphere that intensifies in a frenetic way until the eve of the carnival.
Why it’s famous: Dozens of floats and several hundred attendees make the event a joy for locals and tourists alike. Every year a “King of Chaos” is elected, called “King Momo”, who will have to preside over the celebrations.
8. Notting Hill Carnival – London, UK
The Notting Hill Carnival is an annual celebration that takes place on the streets of London’s residential district. The tradition was imported from Trinidad in 1833, by black slaves who were forbidden from celebrating the carnival.
When does it start: on the last Sunday of August and continues on the following Monday
How long does it last: 2 days – the first dedicated to children and the second to adults
Why it’s famous: It’s one of the most popular street events, with about a million people gathering to dance and taste typical Caribbean food.
7. Mardi Gras – New Orleans, USA
The USA also ranks on our top 10 list thanks to the Mardi Gras carnival of New Orleans.
When does it start: Shrove Tuesday and the two weeks before it
How long does it last: the preparations start on January 6th and last until they reach the climax right at midnight on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.
Why it’s famous: Over 750,000 people flock to the streets of the city. The season of parades and dances involves many people and, on Shrove Tuesday, the streets are invaded by purple, gold, and green masks.
6. Trinidad and Tobago Carnival – Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
The celebration of the carnival today takes place all over the Caribbean, but originally the island of Trinidad and Tobago started this tradition.
When does it start: the Monday before Ash Wednesday
How long does it last: 2 days of fashion shows preceded by more than 2 weeks of celebrations and preliminary competitions
Why it’s famous: The festival fills the streets with tourists and locals alike, who mingle with each other by taking part in incredible parades. All the people wear brightly colored costumes covered in sequins and feathers and spend their days dancing to the percussive rhythm of the steel pan bands.
5. Quebec Winter Carnival – Quebec, Canada
Quebec Winter Carnival is an explosion of fun, traditional food, and sports. In the beginning, it was a plan created by the citizens to react to the winter harshness.
When does it start: Two weeks before Shrove Tuesday
How long does it last: between 15 and 20 days
Why it’s famous: With over 500,000 annual visitors, it is one of the most popular winter events in the world. There are night parades with allegorical floats, bands, and many masks. The sporting events are particularly popular, including canoe competitions and dog sled races.
4. Cologne Festival – Cologne, Germany
In the 4th place, we find the Cologne Festival, which is the symbol of German celebrations.
When does it start: The week of Shrove Tuesday
How long does it last: 6 days. On Thursday women go wild in parties dedicated to them, on Sunday there are a series of minor parades, and on Monday the main parade takes place.
Why it’s famous: It attracts more than a million annual visitors interested in seeing the huge and irreverent allegorical floats with caricatures of national and international politicians.
3. Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife – Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Many believe that Tenerife is second only to Rio in the ranking of the most beautiful carnivals. While we don’t share the same opinion, we do recognize its importance by assigning it a very dignified 3rd place.
When does it start: The week before Ash Wednesday
How long does it last: over 2 weeks, with the main events taking place in the second. The main procession (Coso) is staged on Shrove Tuesday
Why it’s famous: The celebrations are a riot of music and colors thanks to the spectacular murgas – forms of street theater that involve over 100 street groups made up of musicians, dancers, actors, and more. But the main event that made it extremely popular celebrations is the crowning of the “Queen of the Carnival”.
2. Carnival of Venice – Venice, Italy
What makes the Venice carnival special? It’s all a matter of traditions, secular social customs characterized by refined disguises and gala parties.
When does it start: 2 weeks before Ash Wednesday
How long does it last: the events related to the carnival last about 20 days, but the actual celebrations occur in the last 2 weeks
Why it’s famous: It’s the most fascinating festival of all; it’s linked to ancient traditions and involves millions of people every year who comes to participate in public and private events.
1. Rio Carnival – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Rio Carnival is the most famous in the world. And, probably, every man has fantasized, at least once in his life, about dancing between the beautiful Brazilian samba dancers.
When does it start: 40 days before Easter
How long does it last: 4 days, from Saturday to Tuesday. The two main parades take place on Sunday and Monday. The opening ceremony takes place on Friday.
Why it’s famous: An estimated 2 million people a year flock to the streets of Rio to watch shows and parades. About 200 samba schools and over 300 musical bands take part in the carnival.