With Notting Hill taking place in London this weekend, we thought we’d take you on a whirlwind tour of the greatest, most renowned carnivals around the globe.
Rio de Janerio Carnival
Let’s kick off in Brazil, where 2 million partiers descend on Rio de Janerio for the gold standard of festival celebrations. Having been a mainstay on the carnival calendar since 1723, Rio is buzzing with street festivals, floats, parties, dancing and music.
Boasting performances from over 200 samba schools and 300 street bands and providing a platform for unbridled expressionism, the Rio locals sure know how to throw one heck of a party!
Commencing at the end of January and continuing through to mid-February, the Venice Carnival brings a huge splash of surreal colour and excitement to the grey, wintery Venetian city. Over the course of the celebration, thousands of masked revellers descend on St. Mark’s to show off their extraordinary costumes.
The highlight of the carnival is definitely the exclusive Valentine’s Grand Masquerade Ball – however, with tickets north of £500 per person, you need to have deep pockets to experience this Baz Lurhmann-esque intriguingly bizarre, hedonistic party.
King’s Day, Amsterdam
As a celebration of the Dutch monarchy, the annual Amsterdam-based King’s (or Queen’s) Day sees throngs of locals and tourists descend on this famous city the liveliest, most orange street party of the year. Held towards the end of April, this patriotic public holiday is bursting at the seams with orange-clad pleasure seekers, live music, DJ sets, street markets and wild parties.
If you fancy hitting Amsterdam over the King’s Day weekend, it’s a good idea to book early as, due its popularity, hotels and hostels fill up quickly.
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival
Officially celebrated just before Ash Wednesday, the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival actually kicks off just after Christmas and includes an exciting itinerary of wild parties and cultural competitions. At 4am on the official Monday of the ‘biggest street party on Earth’, J’Ouvert – the highlight of the carnival – sees paint, mud and grease-covered party-goers hit the streets and celebrate until well beyond sunrise.
The festivities continue throughout the day and, on Carnival Tuesday, thousands of party animals take to the streets in bright costumes and dance to calypso music along traditional parade routes. If you can’t make it for the main event, don’t worry as these Caribbean islands are home to welcoming cultural events and parties all year round.
Cadiz Carnival, Spain
Dating back to the 16th century and taking inspiration from Venice’s renowned carnival, the historic harbour town of Cadiz has become Spain’s most celebrated festivals. Due to its close trading ties with Italy, Cadiz offers a unique take on its world-famous Venetian counterpart.
Spanning almost two weeks, this ancient town is home to dancing, music, comedy, costumes and parties that dedicated participants painstakingly organise throughout the year.
Notting Hill Carnival, London
Let’s round things up at the Notting Hill Carnival, which, I’m sure you already know, is based in our fair capital. Having been held over the August Bank Holiday weekend since the 60s, the Notting Hill Carnival is an all-welcoming celebration of London’s Caribbean history, culture and traditions.
With over 40 soundsystems blasting out reggae, dancehall, calypso, dub, salsa, disco and more – not to mention the amazing food, parades, floats and bands – the affluent Notting Hill becomes host to an unforgettable, sensory overload of a party.