They are colourful, they are vibrant, they will make you feel more alive than ever! Featuring century-old traditions and modern events at some of the most picturesque and lavishing sites on Earth, these are the ten best carnivals you must visit!
Kadooment Day – Crop Over
When? The first Monday of August.
Type: Street festival and national holiday.
What could be more appealing than dancing the day off under the hot Caribbean sun, surrounded by stunning beautiful scantily-clad Bajan women? Hmm, not many things in the world that’s for sure. Kadooment is one of the most colourful festivals in the Caribbean and one you should not miss for anything in the world. You can even meet Rihanna on the streets – she usually headlines the festivities and mingles in the crowd!
Where? Originally Ukraine. In 2014 the festival was held in Georgia and in 2015 it will be held in Cambodia.
When? 18-28 February 2015.
Type: Electronic music and dance festival.
This is arguably the biggest and most famous electronic music festival in the world. If you are a fan of this type of music, pack your bags and start planning your trip to Cambodia. The best DJs in the world will headline the 2015 event, including Armin van Buuren and Carl Cox.
Where? Manchester, Tennessee, USA.
When? The festival starts on the second Tuesday of June and lasts for four days.
Type: Music festival.
Considered by many to be the best music festival in the US, Bonnaroo should be on your calendar if you cherish live music. Throughout the years it has featured great performances from legends like Elton John, sir Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, James Brown, The Police and many others. The festival easily attracts tens of thousands of people who are united by their love of music. It is a magical half week to experience, the best summer festival in the country.
Rock am Ring
Where? Nurburgring, Germany.
Type: Hard rock, metal and alternative music festival.
The US might have Bonnaroo, but Europe hits back strong with Rock am Ring. It is the biggest live musical event at the continent and it attracts some monsters like Metallica, Motorhead, Linkin Park, Prodigy and Slipknot. There is hardly any other live musical event in Europe that can rival Rock am Ring, so you should definitely book your flight to Germany!
Notting Hill Carnival
Where? London, UK.
When? The carnival culminates on the first Monday of August but starts two days before that.
Type: Street parade and dance carnival.
During the 60s of XX century a large and vibrant Caribbean community settled in West London and particularly in the bohemian Notting Hill. They first celebrated their cultural heritage with a street festival back in 1966 and the success of the event made sure it would turn into an annual celebration.
Today the Notting Hill Carnival is the largest of its kind in Europe and attracts more than 1 million visitors – a huge tourist boost for the British capital. You should not miss the vista of exotic Carribean dancers moving in the rhythm of samba on the streets of London!
Where? Munich, Germany.
When? Sixteen days from mid-September to the culmination during the first weekend of October.
Type: Fun fair.
One of the oldest festivals on the list, Octoberfest was first held in 1810 and since then has become a defining part of the Bavarian culture and a tourist phenomenon. The modern-day event attracts more than six million visitors from around the world every year. If you want to feel the great Bavarian hospitality and take a pint of some of the best beer in the world – there is no better place to do it!
Where? New Orleans, USA.
Type: Street festival.
Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday in French and marks the start of the Catholic Lent season. It is celebrated in a number of countries but nowhere as notoriously and lavishly as in New Orleans. The hot and humid climate of the Jewel of the South only fuels the atmosphere of lust and debauchery. Loud music, lewd dance parades, exhibition, colourful costumes, a vibrant haze of sounds and colours – prepared to be totally dazed by on of the wildest street festivals in the world!
La Fiesta De San Fermin
Where? Pamplona, Spain.
When? July 6th.
Type: Street festival.
One can hardly describe the Pamplona bull runs better than Earnest Hemingway – so just read his The Sun Also Rises and lose yourself in the atmosphere of controlled madness. If you are an adrenaline junkie, things can hardly get any wilder than an angry bull running on your heels with the single purpose of impaling you on its horns. Those crazy Spaniards!
The Carnival of Venice
Where? Venice, Italy.
When? The same day as Mardi Gras – the last day before the 40-day Catholic lent.
Type: Masquerade and street festival.
Let’s change the mood altogether and visit the most romantic of all festivals on the list. According to history the first Carnival was held as early as 1162. Its oldest and most remarkable feature are the peculiar masks the citizens used to hide their identity. There was no nobleman, tradesman or peasant during the Masquerade – they were all equal.
Once you have visitted the Carnival of Venice you could say you have seen one of the most beautiful festivals in the world.
Carnival of Brazil
Where? Rio de Janeiro
When? 5 days beginning on Friday and culminating on Mardi Gras (Ash or Fat Tuesday).
Type: Street and dance festival.
When you simply say “the carnival” one image appears in the mind first – the wave of colours raging through the Sambodromo in Rio de Janeiro. It is the biggest, loudest, wildest and most beautiful street carnival in the world. The Brazilians say that if you want to know what living feels like, you must go to the Rio carnival. Not much to add to that!