The Most Vibrant Carnivals Worldwide

The Most Vibrant Carnivals Worldwide

It’s Carnival Season! 

Every culture has its unique way of throwing a great party, but what better way to celebrate than stopping everyday life to enjoy a fabulous carnival? For many countries and cultures, the period before Lent is seen as a time to indulge and party like there is no tomorrow  – a time for one last unforgettable celebration.

If travel was a thing right now, we would be jet-setting to view the most colourful, vibrant displays of culture and music. These unique carnivals are groundbreaking events and the chance to visit any of them would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!   

Till your next five-star vacation, here’s our list of the most vivid carnivals and the deep, rich culture behind each one. 


Dates:  Mid February till Early March

The carnival of Santa Cruz is considered the second most popular carnival in the world. It is usually held every February in the Canary Islands, where Santa Cruz de Tenerife is the capital of the largest island. The party starts on a Friday and continues through Ash Wednesday. The following Thursday, carnival participants pause the party to go through a tradition called entierro de la Sardina (‘burial of the sardine’). The party picks right back up again the following weekend.

From inception, a different theme has been chosen each year. In 1987 for example, the theme was ancient Rome, and in 2018, the theme was “Fantasy”. Definitely a spot to revisit!

Throughout the year, Tenerife is considered to be a relaxed, calm holiday destination, but completely changes from late February to mid-March. The streets are transformed and decorated in the brightest colours. If you’re lucky enough to visit during this period, you can experience the ‘party side’ of Tenerife and enjoy festivities like no other.

Photo Source: Visit Canary Islands

Photo Source: Visit Canary Islands


Dates: Late February till Early March

The Rio de Janeiro Carnival is held just before Lent each year and it sets the tone worldwide for huge festivals. Each year the carnival draws more than 2 million attendees from all over the world and is considered to be the largest carnival globally. Consisting of floats, parties, and festivals,  the Carnival is used to celebrate and indulge before the period of Lent. It has been running annually since 1723! 

Dancing. Samba. Music. Laughter. Love. Drink. Food. Brazil is a country bursting with colour, life, and joy and its inhabitants love to show it.

Picture the scene: You sipping a caipirinha and moving to the raucous rhythm of Samba. Sign us up! 

Photo Source: The Rio Times

Photo Source: The Rio Times



The Carnival of Venice, like most others on this list, takes place just before Lent. This Carnival is all about decorative masks and the rich culture of the city. The exact origins of the carnival are unknown but the earliest records date all the way back to 1162. The carnival became famous in the 18th century when a conservative King outlawed masks completely. What a different time!

 Creating masks is an artform a tradition dating back hundreds of years in Venice, making the carnival truly unique. The elaborate masks and sumptuous costumes give Venice an enchanted atmosphere which understandably draws tourists in droves from all over the world. The carnival holds a competition each year for la Maschera più Bella, (‘the most beautiful mask’). 

The carnival usually lasts a couple of weeks, but the most important days are Giovedì Grasso and Martedì Grasso, literally ‘fat Thursday’ and ‘fat Tuesday,’. The following Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, traditionally dedicated to fasting.

Photo Source: World Travel Guide


Dates: Late February

Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) was legally declared a holiday in Louisiana in 1875. It is heavily influenced by medieval European, Roman, and Venitian culture. Nowadays, and true to American party-culture, there is no bigger party than the French Quarter during Mardi Gras.

Known for over-the-top floats and costumes, drunken revelry, and, its unique distribution of beads, it is undoubtedly the most well-known and prestigious carnival in the whole of North America.

Photo Source: Fodoros Travel Guide

Photo Source: TripSavvy

Photo Source: Sokah2Soca



The Notting Hill Carnival is held annually in the chic Notting Hill neighborhood in London every August.  It is entirely devoted to the cultures and traditions of the British West Indian community.

The melodic music and exciting dance moves attract over a million people each year, making the carnival a huge part of British life and culture. Unlike all others on this list, it is not part of the religious ‘Carnival’ season surrounding Lent. The Notting Hill carnival is heavily music-focused and everyone takes advantage of the great weather in London!

Participants spend months working on their festival costumes and it is evident from the intricate detail on display. Best of all, you can enjoy unique West Indian and Caribbean cuisine- curried goat, roti, and jerk chicken. When you’re done indulging, dance off the calories to Soca, Calypso, and melodic tunes of the Steel Pan Drum.

Photo Source: Jumia Travel

Photo Source:

Which one of these carnivals have you visited before?