February is the busiest month in the world of carnivals. Some of the best and greatest ones take place during this time of year and they attract thousands of people in places like Rio de Janeiro or Venice. Most of them begin 60 days before Easter Sunday, just a few days before Fat Tuesday and require months of preparation and hundreds of costumes and masks. However, when the show finally starts, tens of thousands of people invade the streets of some of the greatest cities in the world to enjoy the music and dance numbers. Now that February is over, let’s see which ones were the most entertaining.
Rio de Janeiro Carnival
The biggest and the most famous carnival in the world is the one in Rio de Janeiro, and even the Guinness Book of Records says it. For five days in February or March, during the hottest time of the year in the southern hemisphere, the streets of the Brazilian capital are filled with music, dance, and color. This year, the carnival started on February 18, ended on Fat Tuesday, and took place, as usual, at the famous Sambodrom. About 3 million people invaded Rio to watch the dancers from about a dozen samba schools on their amazing floats. However, the Sambodrom is not the only place where you can enjoy the festivities. Throughout the entire city, you can participate at numerous street parties and different balls. It’s no wonder Rio de Janeiro is known as the Carnival Capital of the World.
Another famous carnival is the one in Venice. If the Brazilian one is filled with colorful and mostly skimpy costumes, the Italians go all out on the masks and disguises front. After all, Venice is where all the great masks are made. Every February, tourists and locals dress up in elaborate costumes completed with gorgeous masks and swarm the streets of Venice. For ten days, there are parties, balls, cotillions, and carnivals with classical music and intricate decors. However, the most important part of the festival is the contest for the best mask. This year the best costume was called “Teatime” and was selected from thousands of costumes, by a jury of international fashion designers.
Mardi Gras (USA)
Fat Tuesday also known as Mardi Gras is a festival celebrated in many countries. However, New Orleans is probably the best at celebrating it. Though the festival lasts for three days, the best day to experience it is precisely on Fat Tuesday. That is when people ride big floats thought the city and throw necklaces made out of colorful beads at the people gathered on the main streets of the Big Easy.
Carnival of Binche (Belgium)
The Belgian version of Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras also attracts many curious. This festival dates back seven centuries and most people choose to stay in costumes throughout the entire four-day shindig. But, the main attraction is definitely “the Gilles” – a group of people dressed like clowns with wax masks and wooden shoes, who dance a special dance in the center of Binche to defend the city of evils spirits.
Carnival of Cadiz (Spain)
This Spanish carnival is not like most festivities. If usually people like to dress in colorful and sparkling costumes and wear bright masks, in the city of Cadiz, Spaniards paint their faces instead of wearing masks and wear simple clothing. They rely on their imagination and on their sense of humor and sarcasm to celebrate life, mostly throughout music. In order to prepare for the two-week festivities, people in the Andalucía region of Spain eat sea urchins and live oysters in the street several days before the carnival starts.
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival
What can be more exotic than a carnival in the Caribbean? Every year, on Monday and Tuesday, before Ash Wednesday, people all over the world gather mostly on the streets of Port of Spain to admire the beautiful costumes and the band contest. Also, some of the best music can be experienced at the carnival, and there’s no greater distinction for a musician than to be named Calypso Monarch.