Each winter, cities around the world come alive with unique and festive Carnival celebrations. Carnival is the celebration that occurs before Lent, the 40-day period prior to Easter, when it is customary for many Christians to fast. Carnival is celebrated in over 50 countries, each with its own unique traditions and events. Celebrations are typically marked with parades, colorful costumes, live music, and festive dancing and can last more than a month.
While this annual celebration is popular all over the world, some cities have truly epic celebrations. Here are our picks for the best Carnival celebrations across the globe:
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, Trinidad
May visitors to Trinidad and Tobago have said that if Trinidad is not celebrating Carnival, then they are preparing for Carnival. The annual festival is a huge part of the culture in this southern Caribbean Island, and next year it will be held from February 15 – February 22.
The Carnival in Trinidad is the largest in the Caribbean and typically attracts over 800,000 people. With a six-mile parade route, epic parties that start at 2 am and continue to daybreak, and some of the most elaborate costumes, Carnival in Trinidad is not to be missed.
Carnival of Binche, Belgium
The Carnival celebration in Binche, Belgium has been deemed a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. In 2023 the event will take place from February 19 – February 21 and has been in existence since the 14th century.
The celebration culminates with a parade of men dressed as Gilles – French musicians originating in Burgundy in the early 1400s. The Gilles wear black, red, and yellow clothes, wooden shoes, large feathered hats, and wax face masks. They march through the drum-filled streets and throw oranges to onlookers before ending the party with a fireworks show.
Viareggio Carnival, Italy
2023 will mark the 150th year of Viareggio’s Carnival celebrations. Six giant paper-mâche float parades will take place on the weekends between February 4 and February 25. The massive parade floats take over six months to construct and are known for their satirical take on Italian and world events. Viareggio’s Carnival is so unique and popular that it is televised each year nationally.
Rio de Janeiro Carnival, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is host to arguably the most famous of the world’s Carnival celebrations. Often attracting over 2 million tourists to the popular beachfront city, Rio’s celebration is quite the spectacle. After being canceled for the past 2 years, the 2023 celebration will take place from February 17 – February 25 at venues throughout the city and will feature samba music and dancers, the famous Samba Parade, and epic parties.
The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
The Carnival of Santa Cruz takes place in Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, and attracts 200,000 spectators. The 2023 celebration will have events taking place between January 20 – February 26 with the theme of “New York – The City That Never Sleeps.”
One of the most popular events is the gala to elect the Carnival Queen, where contestants dawn flamboyant costumes in an attempt to win the crown. On “Carnival Tuesday,” a magnificent parade takes place throughout the streets before marking the official end of the ceremony when the spirit of Carnival, symbolized by a sardine, is paraded throughout the streets before ultimately being set on fire.
Venice Carnival, Italy
Venice’s famous Carnival celebration has been around since at least 1296 and will take place from February 4 – February 21, 2023. Each year the event hosts a boat parade and light show on the Rio di Cannaregio canal. The 10-day celebration plays host to several masquerade balls where attendees wear period costumes and dawn fancy masks.
Of particular note is the Flight of the Angel, when the winner of a local contest zip lines into St. Mark’s Square to mark the official start of the celebration.
Mardi Gras, New Orleans
New Orleans is famous throughout the world for the epic parties and parades that make up its unique celebration. While the actual day of Mardi Gras is on (Fat) Tuesday, February 21, 2023, celebrations span the city for the two weeks prior.
With nearly 80 parades throughout the Big Easy, it is no surprise why 1 million people flock to New Orleans each year. The celebration is known for its parades, where beads and coins are tossed to onlookers from elaborate floats surrounded by fantastic marching bands.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com