Carnivals around the world in March
Carnivals Around the World
Samba Time at the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. By Nicolas de Camaret
March is carnival month! We have broken ourselves gently into the new year, and it is now time to loosen up and have some fun! Across the world, February and March mark months of festivities. For many countries and cultures, the period of Lent is fast approaching. This means that it is now time to over-indulge and party like there is no tomorrow. It is time to have one last unforgettable celebration – it is time… for Carnivals!
The below list embraces the festive spirit of March and showcases seven of the most popular carnivals around the world. These colourful carnivals are groundbreaking events, just visiting any one of them would be a once in a lifetime experience!
- Dates 2020 – February 19th – March 1st
- Location – Mainly Santa Cruz, but the carnival is widely celebrated around the island
Most people would not associate the Canary Islands as a place of festivities. Throughout the year, Tenerife is considered a relaxed and amicable holiday destination, but this all changes however during the month of March! From the 27th of February through to the 10th of March, the island hosts the second largest carnival in the world! The streets are decorated in bright colours and the citizens of Tenerife prepare festivities like no other. Why not explore the Canary Islands, find a vibrant costume and join the parades in Santa Cruz?
The second biggest carnival in the world. By Ninelle777
What to expect
Throughout the history of the carnival, a different theme has been chosen each year. In 1987 for example, the theme was ancient Rome. In 2018, the theme was “Fantasy”; therefore you can expect a display that is out of this world! Imagine staring in wonder at huge beasts and beautiful magical creatures; this year’s Carnival will transport you to another world – all the more reason to travel to Tenerife and join in the fun!
Carnival, for the inhabitants of Tenerife, is a time to come together and celebrate. Although the festivities are centralized around Santa Cruz, you can find parties and parades in practically every village and town. You will have an absolute blast wherever you travel on the Island – a hire-car could be a perfect choice to witness festivities at both Santa Cruz and some of the smaller towns.
The whole island joins in the fun and you can expect street parties, parades, concerts and even a classic car show. You can be a part numerous organized events such as the Festival of La Zarzuela and the Rondallas Festival. Furthermore, don’t forget to check out the spectacular election of the Carnival Queen, and the epic inauguration parade. Do you enjoy loud music, dancing and bright colors? If so, Santa Cruz is the place to be during Carnival so book your flights today!
Must-see event – The Burial of the Sardine
On February the 27th, this annual tradition is held in the main square of Santa Cruz. The Burial of the Sardine is a true spectacle and an unusual one at that! Every street in the city is draped with mourning decorations and an immense Papier Mache sardine is paraded through the winding roads and alleys. Followers dress in mourning attire or as members of the Catholic Church and a sombre funeral procession is held. Can you imagine what it would be like to walk through the streets in the midst of this event? Why not pack your own mourning costume?!
The Burial of the Sardine is a divisive event – some locals hate it, and others are devoted to the ritual and tradition. If you are lucky enough to visit the Carnival of Santa Cruz, be sure to attend this bizarre and surreal procession – you will surely not forget it! Don’t forget to take a selfie with the sardine!
- Dates 2020 – February 8th – 25th
- Location – Promenade du Paillon, Promenade des Anglais and surrounding streets
Some believe that the Carnival of Nice is the oldest in the world. Whether or not Charles Anjou held the first ever carnival in the 13th century is open for debate. What’s not open for debate, however, is how awesome and exciting this year’s Nice Carnival will be! During the second half of February and March, the largest city on the French Riviera plays host to this groundbreaking event. If the thought of French finery combined with carnival capers tickles your fancy, what are you waiting for? Start planning your adventure to Nice today!
Welcome to the Carnival de Nice. By Jacques Abalain
During the Carnival, the Promenade du Paillon and surrounding areas are transformed; a series of stalls, rides, marquees and even a big wheel are erected. Can you imagine looking down in awe at the carnival proceedings from the top of that wheel?! Furthermore, the streets and parks are decorated with colourful streamers and bright decoration. Aside from the decoration, various procession and parades are held such as the Parade of Lights, and the Burning of the King. Liking what you’re reading? You could be part of this awesome event and witness the transformation of Nice first-hand!
What to expect
This year, the theme of the Carnival is “The King of Space”. Expect floats and costumes that celebrate human discovery, exploration and conquering the unknown. Picture watching huge spaceships, aliens and lifelike planets moving steadily past your eyes! Throughout the two week period, you will see a series of wondrous parades packed full of musicians, dancers and of course floats.
The floats of the Nice Carnival are iconic and have helped define this event as one of the best in the world. Each float features an immense amount of detail and displays a particular theme or story. With this year’s space theme, we can expect some magnificent floats depicting things such as space travel and our universe. Why not get your ET costume out of the wardrobe and into your suitcase?
A snake float in the nice carnival. By Eric Salard
Must-see event – Flower Parade
Have you ever witnessed 100,000 colourful flowers thrown into an ecstatic crowd of onlookers? This is in essence what the flower parade is all about! Each year on the Promenade des Anglais, this procession is held. 18 magnificent floats make their way steadily down the promenade – as they progress, members of the carnival serenade the crowds and lavish them with flowers. Imagine reaching out your hands to catch a gorgeous bouquet and taking in their gorgeous scent! The whole parade is simply delightful and a true joy to be a part of – the colour, music and spectacle is breathtaking.
- Dates 2020 – February 24th – 25th
- Location – Mainly in the Port of Spain, but also in surrounding towns and villages
For several days in February, the inhabitants of Trinidad and Tobago join together to celebrate Carnival. Although this island nation has a population of just 1.3 million, their Carnival is an epic event and one of the most popular in the world. This event is the most significant in the nation’s calendar; despite officially being held on the 4th and 5th of March, preparations are made throughout January. If you want to experience a true slice of Caribbean culture, the Carnival of Trinidad and Tobago is a must-see event! Why not join in the fun and start planning your Caribbean Crusade?
The Trinidad and Tobago carnival is prepared months before. By Granderiviere
What to expect
It is a long-held belief that if the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are not celebrating Carnival, they are either preparing for it or reminiscing about it. Yes, the carnival is that important! Due to this fact, you can expect to enter an island that is bursting with festivities.
Practically every street, household and business are involved in the carnival in some way – you cannot escape it! Can you picture being part of that atmosphere and witnessing the joy and elation of the islanders in person?
Throughout the month of March (and February in reality!), you can explore the island and find a myriad of celebrations and events. Several traditional calypso parades are held in the Port of Spain complete with marching bands and dancing troupes. If you love to dance and sing, you can join in the parades too – it’s not just for the locals!
Furthermore, at other locations such as Scarborough and San Fernando, you can watch competitions, reenactments and live concerts. As you would expect, the carnival is bursting with colour and energy – the inhabitants of this small Caribbean island know how to put on a show!
Must-see event – Parade of Bands
If you love music and dancing, the Parade of Bands is a must-see event. Even if you aren’t a huge fan, you will still enjoy the live music and the electric atmosphere that this procession creates. This organized event proceeds through the Port of Spain, stopping at several major locations. A myriad of professional bands join together to create a cavalcade of musical wonder. Picture standing on the streets of the Port of Spain and watching this lively procession – how awesome would that be?
You can expect traditional Calypso beats mixed together with Soca music and a variety of other Caribbean styles. The beat is infectious and the epic music is accompanied by hundreds of dancers. Each dancer is dressed from head to toe in vibrant colours, feathers, glitter and sparkling gems. If you choose to see one parade during your stay in Trinidad and Tobago, ensure it is this one! When you watch the Parade of bands, you could even put on your own dazzling costume and practice your calypso moves!
- Dates 2020 – February 21st – 28th
- Location – The Sambadrone and practically any street in Rio de Janeiro
Brazil is a country bursting with colour, life and joy. Its people truly know how to celebrate and party. This notion is extremely evident during the first week in March, when the legendary Carnival of Rio de Janeiro is held. Who would not want to be a part of this brilliant bonanza?
Originally used to celebrate and indulge before the period of Lent, the Rio Carnival has now become the stuff of legends. Strap yourself in and prepare to witness an experience like no other; the greatest and most colourful show in the world! Tickets and flights fill up fast so be sure to prepare in plenty of time!
By Jonas de Carvalho
What to expect
Dancing. Samba. Music. Laughter. Love. Drink. Food. Parades; these are some of the things you will witness during the Rio Carnival. The streets come to life with 24 hour long parties where anything goes. Locals and tourists alike join together to sing and dance into the early hours of the morning. Can you imagine sipping a caipirinha whilst shaking your groove to some lively Brazilian music?
Blocos street parties are led by bands who play raucous and lively music. The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro is a non-stop party; a time when you can let your inhibitions go and feel free. Don’t miss out – be a part of this celebration and immerse yourself in this truly unique event!
Aside from the street parties, there is also a series of epic displays in the iconic Sambadrone. If you can purchase a ticket for one of these shows, you are in for a treat! You will witness thousands of colourful dancers and musicians performing some of the most fascinating and exciting routines the world has ever seen! Picture the scene – you are sat in the stands and become simply stunned as an endless stream of choreographed performers move in unison past your seats! What a phenomenon!
By Nicolas de Camaret
Must-see event – The Winners Parade
Throughout the carnival celebrations, a series of dramatic Samba performances will take place in the purpose-built Sambadrone. 12 samba schools perform a separate choreographed routine including singing, music, dance and theatrics. These displays are judged by a panel of experts, and a winner is chosen. To be crowned the winning team is the pinnacle achievement in the world of Brazilian Samba. Fancy yourself as a samba show-off? Get your tickets booked and join in the fun at Rio!
On the first Saturday after the Samba competitions, the winner’s parade is held. This delightful display is also showcased in the Sambadrone. The top 6 Samba schools can once again step into their elaborate costumes and dazzle spectators with a show like no other. You will be astounded by the glittering gowns and marvellous music, and gasp in sheer awe at the immense themed floats that pass down the Samba strip. You will wonder how the dancers twist and turn in unison. If you love theatrics, merriment and a spectacle, the winner’s parade will not disappoint!
If this hasn’t peaked your interest in the Carnival, we don’t know what will – don’t take the chance and potentially miss out on the most memorable adventure of your life!
- Dates 2020 – February 14th – 25th
- Location – Ptuj (A small town in the western region of Slovenia)
As Lent and Shrove Sunday approach, the citizens of Ptuj prepare for Kurentovanje. As the winter months fade, we see a glimmer of hope as spring looms on the horizon. Kurentovanje is a celebration of the coming of spring, and the banishment of winter. The modern celebration has become an iconic event and draws tens of thousands of visitors each year. Why not head into the depths of Slovenia and check out this fascinating event for yourself?
What to expect
The Carnival of Kurentovanje is like no other. Forget about samba music and huge floats – this carnival is all about Slavic gods and their surrounding traditions. Kurentovanje provides a unique opportunity to witness a different type of carnival and learn about the beliefs of the Slovenian people.
Throughout the event, you can see the bizarre Kurent characters parading through the streets. Imagine running through the narrow streets of Ptuj and helping the Kruents chase away the last remnants of winter! Furthermore, you can join in bonfires, dances, parties and processions in and around the main square of the town. The atmosphere is fantastic and the charming setting of this town gives Kurentovanje Carnival a unique feel. You will immediately fall in love with this quiet European town and wish you would have booked a longer stay!
Must-see event – First jump of the Kurent
Kurentovanje is a traditional event in which the inhabitants of Slovenia chase away winter and usher in the season of spring. A central figure within this cultural event is the god Kurent. Kurent is a god of hedonism and unrestrained pleasure – he helps banish winter during the First jump of the Kurent. This event is the first in the carnival’s calendar and the most important. Can you picture the first time you see these weird and wonderful creatures and stare in amazement at their shape and colour?
Select individuals dress up as Kurent and parade through the streets of Ptuj. What makes this procession so memorable however is the participant’s attire. Dressed from head to toe in huge sheepskin garments, the Kurent look truly remarkable. Their heads are adorned with colourful feathers, and in their hands, they carry wooden clubs laced with hedgehog pelts. The sight is quite bizarre and outlandish but the Kurent has become an iconic figure in both the carnival and Slovenia. Why not travel to this small European nation and witness the mysterious Kurent with your own eyes?
- Dates 2020 – February 22nd – 25th
- Location – Barranquilla (A coastal city in northern Colombia)
On the stunning northern coast of Colombia you can enter the city of Barranquilla and immerse yourself in one of the largest carnivals around the world! For one week in March, this city plays host to a breathtaking and magical event. The Barranquilla Carnival has been held for over one hundred years and grows in popularity every year. Imagine being part of festivities that are declared a UNESCO “Masterpiece of Humanity’s intangible and Oral Heritage”? With a slogan stating “He who lives it, enjoys it”, can you afford to miss out on this life-changing event?
By carnaval.com Studios
What to expect
Street parties, masked parades, flower battles and more – this is just a small part of what you can expect. The Barranquilla Carnival is full of Colombian culture – from porro and puya rythms to bright costumes that celebrate the countries heritage. Why not start your preparations early and practice some mapale dancing?
Throughout Barranquilla, everyone gets in the carnival spirit – you will find street corners and squares bursting with decoration. Can you imagine the beauty of row after row of buildings laced with rainbow colored streamers and garters? The decoration is just the starting point – this carnival also features a series of organized parades and events such as the hugely popular Battle of the Flowers and the traditional Death of Joselito. Why not immerse yourself in a slice of Colombian culture and plan your trip to Barranquilla today? Don’t forget to pre-book tickets as some of the most popular events sell-out quickly!
Must-see event – Gran Parada de Tradicion (Grand Parade of Tradition)
If you love jaw-dropping processions filled with thousands of colourful participants, do not miss the Grand Parade of Tradition! In fact, if you travel to Barranquilla, you can actually join in the parade for yourself! Imagine the streets packed full of people of all ages – young children, excited teenagers; even the elderly get in on the action! Practically everyone in the city takes part in this celebration!
In years past, it has been reported that over 12,000 people have joined in this mighty parade. Can you picture the sheer scale of this spectacle? The Grand Parade of Tradition brings together the city and hundreds of groups join together in dancing, singing and festivities. You can expect to experience dances such as mapale, cumbia and salsa and some superb traditional costumes. Why not create your own costume of the fan favourite character “La Negrita Puloy”? As this parade is not as popular as the Battle of the Flowers, you should easily be able to grab a prime spot to join in the procession!
By Michele Mariani
- Dates 2020 – February 21st – 25th
- Location – French Quarter and various other districts in the centre of New Orleans
By Pussy Footers
What to expect
Costumes, masks, floats and beads – thousands upon thousands of vibrant beads; if you fail to see any of these items in New Orleans during Mardi Gras you must have buried your head in the Mississippi River! The Mardi Gras in New Orleans is undoubtedly the most well-known and prestigious carnival in the whole of North America.
During the months of February and March, the streets of New Orleans are transformed and the whole city embarks on an epic celebration. Can you picture the scene? Traditional Krewes march through the French Quarter dressed in multi-coloured costumes whilst wearing dazzling masks. Huge detailed floats depicting anything from St. George and the Dragon to the iconic Natchez Steamboat roll down the cities avenues. There is even a series of organized masked balls held at prestigious establishments such as the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium. Every inch of the city involved so don’t miss out!
Mardi Gras is like nothing else on this earth – the citizens of New Orleans certainly know how to throw a party! Why not book your flights today and head on over to the great state of Louisiana to witness this spectacle?
Must-see event – Zulu Krewe Parade
Parades held in the New Orleans Mardi Gras are traditionally organized by Krewes. One particular Krewe that has featured in the celebrations for many years is the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club. Formed in 1916, this is one of the largest Krewes and is well-known for its blackfaced dancers and grass skirt costumes. If you want to experience a traditional Mardi Gras parade, you cannot miss the Zulu club and their lively performance!
Imagine standing in the heaving crowds on Broad Street, dressed in your finest Mardi Gras costume; you can see the Zulu parade approaching – the music and colours are fantastic! Hold your hands up high, and get ready to catch, as a hail of beautifully decorated coconuts are thrown into the onlookers – will you manage to grab a souvenir of this legendary Carnival Krewe?
The coconut shower is just one of the many awesome traditions that the Zulu Krewe perform during their unforgettable parade. What are you waiting for, check out the parade route and pick yourself a spot on Orleans Avenue today!
By Miguel Discart
February Carnival is a must!
If these seven Carnivals around the world have not impressed, we do not know what will! Turn March into a memorable month – forget about Valentine’s Day and embrace the spirit of Carnival instead! From the saucy samba of Rio to the flower power of Nice, there is something to suit everyone’s tastes – why not start your own Carnival adventure today and make your March fantastic?