Top 6 Carnivals From Around the World

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The elaborate and fantastic floats at Rio's Carnaval

Colourful parades, flashy costumes, flamboyant parties, and cultural expression, Carnivals have them all. Usually taking place around Lent, most carnivals around the world have transformed form whatever religious roots into massive celebrations known around the world.

While the origins of many carnivals may still be in question, they still give you an experience you will never forget. Here are 6 enthralling carnivals from around the world:

1. Rio Carnaval
People in elaborate costumes celebrate the Rio Carnaval

Held before Lent, the Rio Carnival is arguably the world’s biggest and most famous. Dating back to 1723, it draws crowds of over 2 million people a day to Rio de Janeiro! The focus of the revelry samba music, with many schools competing to perform. Numerous street parties also take place.

2. The Carnival of Venice
Masked revelers enjoy the Venetian Carnival

Said to have its roots in the Venetian victory over the Patriarch of Aquileia in 1162, the Carnival in Venice still revolves around wearing masks. It gained fame in the 18th-century for its excess and opulence, even being outlawed in 1797 by the conservative King of Austria. However, it’s still going strong today!

3. Mardi Gras, New Orleans
The elaborate floats at Mardi Gras

Taking place on Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras is the most well known carnival in the US. Many of it’s traditions have its roots in 17-18th century Europe, and is used to just be open to a privileged few. Now the over-the-top floats, eccentric costumes, and massive parties are open to everyone.

4. Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
A woman in elaborate costume at the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Held every February in the Canary Islands, this is the second biggest carnival in the world after Rio, though it is perhaps less well known. 15 days of extravagance dominate Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital of the Canary Islands, with colorful galas, parties, and even the crowning of a ‘Carnival Queen’

5. Cologne Carnival
The magnificent parade that ends the Cologne Carnival

While it officially begins in November, the main events of the carnival take place during February in Cologne, Germany. It features all kinds of fanfare and gaiety, including masked balls and large floats. The revelry reaches its peak on Rose Monday with a parade.

6. Notting Hill Carnival
Colorful costumes are a big part of the Notting Hill Carnival

Held annually in the chic Notting Hill neighborhood of London, this carnival started in 1960, and takes place in August. It is London’s largest street party, and a huge part of its culture, celebrating reggae, dub, and most importantly, food. However, it doesn’t take place during the traditional ‘Carnival Season’ around Lent.

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