The 5 Best International Carnivals

The 5 Best International Carnivals

Modern-day carnivals are festive public events that include lavish affairs like public parades, circus performers, street parties, and other entertainment elements.

In most cases, the participants wear extravagant masks and costumes, giving you the chance to take a note or two in the latest fashion. Here are the five most popular international carnivals you don’t want to miss this year. 


1. Rio Carnival – Brazil

The Rio de Janeiro carnival is, without a doubt, the best-known festival thanks to an exuberant street party that resembles no other in the world. The rhythms of Samba music are the driving force behind the carnival celebrations, bringing together over 200 Brazilian samba schools from all over the country.

During the carnival, street parades and other entertaining events like drumming, dancing, singing, and parties take place on every corner of Rio. You can enjoy this five-day samba extravaganza before the Lent feast, with over 300bands performance to 3+ million people in attendance annually.


2. New Orleans Mardi Gras – USA

The Mardi Gras carnival is America’s largest festival, taking place in the birthplace of Jazz. In many street parades, you’ll see lavish carnival floats, traditionally dedicated to mythological characters like Orfeu, Edimiao, King Zulu and Bacchus. 

If you’re a jazz aficionado, you’ll never miss the Mardi Gras carnival. The festivities start on the Epiphany feast (6th January), extending till Shrove Tuesday. Those attending the carnival will find over 250,000 people on the streets wearing all kinds of bead necklaces, and there are lots of opportunities to experience the town’s distinctive French architecture.


3. Notting Hill Carnival – London

While the Notting Hill carnival is a newcomer in the scene, it has continued establishing a solid reputation in the market. It’s not only the most popular carnival in Europe but also the biggest. The carnival was launched in 1966, is all about fun and coming together. 

Visitors at the Notting Hill carnival will see fancy floats and join revelers clad in fancy costumes. However, thanks to the London School of Samba and the Paraiso School, the carnival also brings you authentic Brazilian samba vibe, taking place for two days from the last Sunday in August. That’s the date to mark if you want to catch the 50,000 musicians and artists performing.


4. Santa Cruz de Tenerife – Spain

Spain has some of the best carnivals in the world throughout the country and on during various months of the year. 

The Santa Cruz de Tenerife is Spain’s largest carnival and second only to the Rio Carnival in the world rankings. This event is also popularly known as Corso and it features two distinct parts. The first part involves an official carnival with over 100 music groups, followed numerous informal events in the streets.

You can catch this carnival during the week before Lent, with celebrations ending with the burial of the sardines (entierro de la sardina). The carnival features Caribbean dance and rhythms, also extending to feature other music styles like contemporary electronic music.

Other amazing carnivals in Spain include:

  • Cadiz Carnival
  • Sitges Carnival
  • Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival – Gran Canaria
  • Torelló Carnival
  • Antroxu, Asturias


5. Carnival of Venice – Italy

Lasting for ten days, the Carnival Of Venice is famous around the globe for its elaborate masks and unique sense of style. The carnival tradition encourages the participants to don 18th-century black-silk costumes, wigs, tricorn hats and multi-colored or plain white face masks. You can travel to Venice for two weeks before Lent to enjoy the festival every year.


Other Incredible Carnivals Around the World

These are some of the other amazing carnivals to try to experience:

  • Viareggio Carnival – Italy
  • Cologne Carnival – Cologne, Germany
  • Oruro Carnival – Oruro, Bolivia
  • Carnival of Binche – Binche, Belgium
  • Trinidad and Tobago Carnival – Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
  • Nice Carnival – Nice, France
  • Fasnacht in Basel – Basel, Switzerland
  • Copenhagen Carnival – Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Ivrea Carnival, Italy
  • Crop Over, Barbados
  • Mazatlán Carnival, Mexico
  • Berlin Carnival of Cultures, Germany
  • Rijeka Carnival, Croatia


Have you been to any of the Carnivals on our list? Or do you have a recommendation for somewhere we have missed? Let us know in the comments section below.