What once started as pagan celebrations to say goodbye to winter then evolved into celebrations to enjoy the time between the day of Epiphany (January 6th) and Lent. Even now social norms are thrown to the wayside, as it is beyond acceptable to indulge in food, drink and festivities with abandon, that is, until it’s time to repent.
We’ve put together a collection of the craziest carnivals around the world. With 2015's Carnival season in already in full swing, have your passport, beads, sequins and feathers at the ready and pick your preferred celebration destination. Haven't you heard? There’s no better way to beat the winter blues...
Carnevale di Venezia
The Italian tradition of celebrating carnival dates back to the Roman Saturnalia as a bacchanalian festival for the new year and the welcoming of spring. If you're visiting Venice for carnival, be sure to check out our favourite restaurants for authentic Venitian cuisine...
Carnevale di Venezia, Venice, Italy, January 31st - February 17th, 2015, www.carnevale.venezia.it
Carnaval de Québec
The snowy streets of Quebec City come alive in mid February with Carnaval de Québec, world-renowned for traditions such as an ice canoe race, a snow bath and snow sculpting. Perfect outdoor entertainment for sub-zero temperatures.
Carnaval de Québec, Québec, Canada, February 6th - 15th, 2015 www.carnaval.qc.ca
Trinidad & Tobago Carnival
Calypso music and steel bands set the tone for the premiere Caribbean carnival on the tropical island of Trinidad in its capital city, Port of Spain. Revellers’ vibrant costumes and full-scale performances are made more brilliant by the preferred local beverage: rum (upon rum upon rum).
Trinidad & Tobago Carnival, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, February 16th - 17th, 2015, www.ncctt.org
Known as one of the largest and oldest carnivals in the world, the Nice Carnaval, which has been around since the Middle Ages, shares very close ties with Quebec and New Orleans’ festivities. All three cities have a long-standing tradition of celebrating Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) with French flair.
Nice Carnaval or Carnaval de Roi De La Musique, Nice, France, February 13th - March 1st, 2015 www.nicecarnaval.com
While Goa’s carnival (like most) does have Catholic origins, influenced by Portuguese rule of the region that first started over five hundred years ago, the festival now reflects the state’s many religions, cultures and traditions.
Goa Carnaval, Goa, India, February 14th -17th, 2015 www.goa-tourism.com
Mardi Gras New Orleans
The wild and vibrant spirit of New Orleans is perfectly embodied the city's Mardi Gras celebration. Costumed residents and tourists take to the streets and enjoy the many colourful parades. Please note that if someone offers you a beaded necklace or sweets in exchange for flashing onlookers there is no need to take offence, it’s just the local custom.
Mardi Gras New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, February 17th, 2015 www.mardigrasneworleans.com
The ”crazy days” of the Kölner Karnevals, as they’re called, do not start until after the Weiberfastnacht (Shrove Thursday), the Thursday before Rosenmontag (Carnival Monday). This chaotic and brilliant moment in Cologne is celebrated with city-wide open-air parties. With closing times for pubs and bars suspended while the festival’s on, there’s no need to let the party stop.
Kölner Karnevals, Cologne, Germany, February 11th - 17th, 2015 www.cologne.de
Carnaval de Barranquilla
Dating back to the 19th century, Carnaval de Barranquilla is undoubtedly Colombia's most important folklore celebration with dances like the mico y micas, paloteo, and congo accompanied by traditional Colombian music such as cumbia. The Carnaval de Barranquilla is so important to Colombia’s cultural history that UNESCO declared the festival a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003.
Carnaval de Barranquilla, Barranquilla, Columbia, February 14th -17th, 2015, www.carnavaldebarranquilla.org
The Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will take place this weekend. 900,000+ visitors join the city’s 6 million residents in what is the biggest and most famous carnival of all. Millions of party-goers will take to the streets to enjoy hundreds of open-air "bloco" (block) parties.
Rio Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 13th - 17th, 2015 www.rio-carnival.net