Carnival was originally a pagan festival, then a Catholic one, and today, it’s mostly an excuse to party. Catch the Carnival around the world and enjoy with the locals.
Dusseldorf or Cologne
Both are situated in Germany. The two towns are very close to each other in the Rhineland, and they’re one of Germany’s oldest Carnival celebrations, and definitely one of the biggest parties in Germany. Also, they are fierce rivals, so if you go, make sure you don’t pick aside. It’s Germany, so there’s a ton of beer.
If you’re in Dusseldorf, make sure you do not miss out on the drag queen beauty contest. It is a sight you will never forget.
Quebec City Winter Carnival
This is not a typical warm carnival. It’s in Canada in the winter and it’s absolutely freezing, but it’s a super good time. The whole point is to embrace winter and to bring people outside. It takes place in Quebec City, which is a beautiful, walled UNESCO World Heritage Site right on the Saint Lawrence River. They have these crazy ice canoe races. People supposedly go swimming in the river and then there’s a weird Bonhomme guy that everybody is totally crazy about.
This beautiful little island in the Caribbean is not to miss. In the Caribbean, many places celebrate Carnival in the summer, and they call it “Crop Over”. This dates back to the times of slavery where it was celebrated after the sugar cane was harvested.
It’s one of the most fun and wild celebrations in the Caribbean, and it’s not to be missed. Also, Belgians are beautiful and dress in very skimpy clothing, not to mention the freaky dance parties.
Notting Hill Carnival in London
London is not a place you expect to have Carnival, but there’s a huge Afro-Caribbean community that came, mostly from Jamaica back in the ’60s, and they have a rocking party.
It is in Andalusia, Southern Spain. It is famous for Chirigotas. They are basically bands of musicians who play satyrical songs that lampoon politicians and celebrities. It’s a really fun time. There’s tons of sherry wine because it’s next to Cadiz where that comes from, and Andalusians do everything in style.
Trinidad and Tobago
This island nation made up of two islands of Trinidad and Tobago has a huge Carnival celebration, and its capital is Port of Spain. Notable fact: the steel drum was invented here. The music Calipso is also from these islands, and generally, they have one of the biggest parties in the Caribbean. It takes place 40 days before Easter like the rest of the world.
Venice is the original masquerade. For their Carnival, they get dressed up super elegant, fancy balls, and they wear these crazy masks. It’s a very unique Carnival; it’s unlike anything else in the world, but you have to receive an invitation to all these parties, so it’s not as welcoming it’s a bit more exclusive.
Spain parties more than anywhere else in Europe, and everyone in Spain agrees that the biggest party for Carnival is in Tenerife. The Canary Islands are warm; they’re off the coast of Africa. So, if you’re in Europe this winter, it is a great place to escape for a big long weekend.
New Orleans, Louisiana referred to as Mardi Gras, which is French for Tuesday, and they celebrate it particularly in the French Quarter. For locals, it’s a family celebration centered around parades called Cruise where they have a big car with a bunch of decorations on it, everyone is singing with lots of music, it’s an awesome time. Mobile, Alabama also has a really good party, so if you’re in the area that’s another awesome alternative.
Brazil – Rio or Olinda
The best celebration in the world for Carnival takes place in Rio. Brazilians are beautiful and rarely wear clothes anyway, so during Carnival, it’s even crazier. hundreds of thousands of people descend on Rio to celebrate Carnival. Rio gets super crowded that’s the only downside.
So, if you want a more mellow alternative, consider going to Olinda in the Northeastern state of Pernambuco. It’s a beautiful colonial town where they have big paper mache giants and it’s a little bit less crowded but still a great time.