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The Seven Most Magnificent Carnival Festivals Around the World

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Ankita loves to explore various aspects of science and is passionate about writing on topics of her interest.

These seven modern-day Carnivals are definitely events to behold for any celebration-seeker.

These seven modern-day Carnivals are definitely events to behold for any celebration-seeker.

Carnevale (Venice, Italy)

Carnevale (Venice, Italy)

All About Carnival

Carnival is an age-old, vibrant, Catholic tradition practiced in countless locations around the globe. Every Carnival festival is an amalgamation of ornate costuming and age-old traditions. Each city's Carnival is unique. The global history of Carnival season spans many countries and highlights remarkable stories of rebellion, the merging of social classes, and even the abolition of slavery. Seven of the most spectacular Carnival celebrations from around the world are discussed below.

1. Carnevale (Venice, Italy)

One of Europe’s most elegant events, Venice’s Carnevale is known for its extravagant costumes and decorative masks. Approximately three million people visit Venice every year to witness this event. It is held each February during the run-up to Lent and starts with a religious procession through St. Marks’ Square.

The historic origins of this Carnival are somewhat unclear. Some scholars believe that it began as a series of pagan festivals in ancient Rome, while others speculate that it got its start as a pre-Lenten Christian celebration. It did not become an official holiday until the late 13th century when it was recognized by the Venetian Senate.

In medieval times, those in the lower classes were not permitted by Venice law to wear extravagant clothes and finery. During the Carnevale, however, all people—regardless of their social rank—were allowed to don brocades, silk, and velvet. The bedazzled masks worn by everyone in attendance also guaranteed anonymity. The Carnevale di Venezia is one of the most famous Carnival festivals in the world, and to this day, attendees can witness thousands of revelers clad in delicate masks made from glass, leather, and even porcelain.

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago

2. Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago are a twin-island nation in the Caribbean, and Carnival there began as a rebellion against slavery. Even after the emancipation of slavery in 1838, indentured workers and former slaves celebrated their freedom with Canboulay, a holiday that recognized the pre-abolition uprising.

Today, the streets fill up with calypso music, limbo, soca, and rum. Its heritage is reflected in the official starting time of 4 AM, which is 4 am, formerly the only time slaves could assemble without being noticed. Today, this Carnival features brilliant feathered costumes and plenty of wild parties.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Rio Carnival is considered to be the most iconic of all Carnival celebrations. The main attractions of this Carnival are flashy, feathered costumes; distinctive samba rhythms; and long-standing traditions. The origins of the samba are rooted in the horrific history of slavery and colonialism. Slave traders from Portugal in the 16th century brought enslaved people from West Africa to Brazil. The slaves brought their own cultural, musical, and religious traditions, which are heard in the rhythms of samba. Today, over 100 samba schools fight to be crowned the best in this spectacular event. During Carnival, parades, music, and parties erupt in neighborhoods all over the city.

Mardi Gras (New Orleans, United States)

Mardi Gras (New Orleans, United States)

4. Mardi Gras (New Orleans, United States)

Mardi Gras, French for "Fat Tuesday," is the last day before Lent. After this day, people are not allowed to eat meat until the Lenten season is over. Mardi Gras is the oldest Carnival celebration in the United States, having been started by French settlers in Louisiana in the early 1700s. It runs from early January until Shrove Tuesday in February.

During this time, New Orleans turns into a non-stop cacophony of jazz bands, and parades of over-the-top floats featuring mythological characters fill the streets. This Carnival is famous for the beaded necklaces thrown by revelers on the French balconies overlooking the parade. Attendees compete to find and wear as many of these necklaces as possible.

Oruro, Bolivia

Oruro, Bolivia

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5. Oruro, Bolivia

Oruro, which is situated high in the Andes in the Altiplano region of Bolivia, holds a memorable Carnival. Before the arrival of the Spanish, Oruro was known as Uru Uru and was home to the Aymara and Quechua people. When the Spanish tried to bring Christianity to these people in the 1600s, they hid their beliefs and rituals beneath a Catholic veneer.

Today, Carnival celebrations in Oruro are an amalgamation of indigenous traditions and co-opted Christian beliefs. The festival tells the story of the victory of good over evil through a theatrical parade that lasts for 20 hours.

Binche Carnival (Belgium)

Binche Carnival (Belgium)

6. Binche Carnival (Belgium)

This Carnival is held every year in the days preceding Ash Wednesday. Those who take part in the celebration choose one of several traditional characters, including Gillies, Harlequins, Pierrots, and Peasants. Gillies—uniformly masked men who proceed through the city causing chaos—are the most beloved. They do this to scare off bad spirits.

Apples and oranges are thrown, sticks are shaken, and hundreds of unblinking eyes stare out threateningly. Gillies are known for their wax masks, quirky behavior, straw-filled costumes, and wooden shoes. This Carnival is so revered that it has been named a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage event.

Notting Hill Carnival (United Kingdom)

Notting Hill Carnival (United Kingdom)

7. Notting Hill Carnival (United Kingdom)

Considered to be the biggest street party in Europe, this Carnival brings the music, color, and spirit of the Caribbean to West London every August. Similar to the Carnival in Rio, the parade is the main focus—around two million people dance through the streets of West London during the celebration. The party continues long after the various drum groups and samba schools have passed along the route.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Ankita B (author) on February 03, 2021:

Yes, Devika. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 02, 2021:

Ankita in this time not much can be celebrated in this world. I

Ankita B (author) on February 02, 2021:

True, FlourishAnyway. The pandemic will greatly affect these celebrations.Thank you very much for reading and commenting.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 02, 2021:

These seem to be fun celebrations. I'm sure the pandemic will put a huge damper on the partying this year.

Ankita B (author) on January 30, 2021:

Thank you, Peggy, for reading and commenting. I appreciate your comments very much.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 30, 2021:

These appear to be fun celebrations in many places around the world. Mardi Gras is also celebrated each year in Galveston, Texas.

Ankita B (author) on January 30, 2021:

Thank you for your generous comments, Rosina. I appreciate your comments very much. I am happy to know that you loved reading this article.

Ankita B (author) on January 30, 2021:

Thank you, Amarachi, for reading and commenting.

Ankita B (author) on January 30, 2021:

I appreciate your generous comments, Lora. Thank you very much for reading and commenting. Yes, these festivals are beautiful. I am glad you enjoyed reading this article.

Rosina S Khan on January 29, 2021:

I found this article so intriguing. I loved reading about the carnival celebrations all around the world. I hope to visit a carnival in the future and have fun. Thank you, Ankita, for sharing this marvelous article that gave me so much joy.

Amarachi Nkwoada from Nigerian on January 29, 2021:

Well researched

Lora Hollings on January 29, 2021:

This is an extraordinary article, Ankita, on these magnificent carnival celebrations. I'm very familiar with Mardi Gras as I lived in the South for a time and it was always so much fun to see the parades and catch the beads. One day, I would love to visit The Carnevale di Venezia. It sounds like an awesome event. Thanks for sharing!

Ankita B (author) on January 29, 2021:

Thank you, Chitrangada, for your lovely comments. Yes, these celebrations are truly wonderful to witness. I am happy that you enjoyed reading this article.

Ankita B (author) on January 29, 2021:

Thank you very much, Umesh Chandra, for reading and commenting. I am glad.

Ankita B (author) on January 29, 2021:

Thank you very much, Linda. I am delighted to know that you loved reading this article.

Ankita B (author) on January 29, 2021:

Thank you, Pamela, for your kind comments. Yes, it is sad that many of the celebrations have stopped due to the pandemic. I appreciate your comments always.

Ankita B (author) on January 29, 2021:

Thank you so much, Ann, for reading and commenting. I will definitely read your hub. It sounds interesting and fun.

I am happy to know that you enjoyed reading this article.

Ankita B (author) on January 29, 2021:

Yes, Louise. Carnivals are definitely fun. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Ankita B (author) on January 29, 2021:

Thank you, Liz, for appreciating this article. I am glad.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 29, 2021:

Nice article about the beautiful carnival celebrations around the World.

I am aware about most of them, and even had the privilege to visit Venice. These are wonderful celebrations, with amazing costumes.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful information.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 29, 2021:

Beautifully presented.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 29, 2021:

This is a very interesting article, Ankita. I loved learning about the celebrations and looking at the colourful costumes.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 29, 2021:

These carnival sites look wonderful and a lot of fun. I hate to think how the pandemic may stop a lot of the celebrations this year. This is a great aticle, Ankita.

Ann Carr from SW England on January 29, 2021:

We have a carnival in Bridgwater and the surrounding Somerset, (England) towns, which lasts over two weeks and is a night-time celebration with floats (low-loaders hauled by tractors) which take a year to make, holding dancers, blaring music and thousands of lightbulbs which light up the sky (see my hub on it!). It's all about the original local celebrations around Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night, celebrating Guy Fawkes failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London. He paid the highest price for his actions too!

This highlights the delightful, colourful celebrations around the world. Great fun!


Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on January 29, 2021:

There's so many fun carnivals around the world. I'd love to go and see the Nottinghill Carnival sometime.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 29, 2021:

This is a well-illustrated and interesting article about carnivals.

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