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

Rio Carnival street party

Rio de Janerio is one of the most spectacular cities in the world and an unmissable place to see in Brazil.

The Rio de Janeiro Carnival is, without a doubt, the best-known festival on the planet thanks to an exuberant street party that resembles no where else.

Held every February, 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.

There are so many great things to do during Rio 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 300 bands performance to 3+ million people in attendance annually.


2. New Orleans Mardi Gras – USA

New Orleans Mardi Gras parade

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 not want to 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

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

Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival

Spain has some of the best carnivals in the world taking place throughout the country. 

The Santa Cruz de Tenerife is Spain’s largest carnival and second only to the Rio Carnival in the world rankings. This event takes place in February and 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.

Whether you are planning a holiday, or just have a quick 24 hours in Tenerife, you really should time your trip to experience carnival here. If you like the outdoors you might also like to climb Mount Teide.

Other amazing carnivals in Spain you might want to check out include:

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


5. Carnival of Venice – Italy

Venice Carnival

Lasting for ten days, the Carnival Of Venice is famous around the globe for its elaborate masks and unique sense of style.

There are lots of amazing things to do in Venice and this carnival is one of the most unique.

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 from the end of January to the middle of February.

You might want to stay a few days to discover the lesser known destinations in Venice.


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.