Top Carnivals of Europe

While Rio de Janeiro in Brazil hosts the most spectacular and biggest carnival in the world, Europe too isn’t far behind and has its own set of sizable shindigs. Here’s a quick guide into the top carnivals held in the European continent.

Spain’s Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Considered the second most popular international carnival after Brazil’s, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is held in the Canary Islands each year. The partying begins on the Wednesday prior to the main event, in which Queen of the Carnival is elected. All candidates come dressed in amazing and lavish costumes that often weigh in the vicinity of 150 to 200 kg.

There is a change in the costumes’ theme each year, for instance, the dress code in 2014 was ‘cartoon’, making it a highly animated affair! This year, this carnival happened from February 19 till March 1. The entire week Tenerife people partied to Latin music, with performances delivered by renowned artists like Celia Cruz. It’s not without a reason that this festival is also counted amongst the 5 best international carnivals across the world.

 

Germany’s Cologne Carnival

Counted amongst the oldest, best and biggest carnivals of Europe, Cologne is commonly referred to by Germans as ‘The Fifth Season of the Year’. Although this festival officially starts from November 11 onwards, at 11:11 precisely, the main events of the carnival, known as ‘crazy days’ don’t start until the Thursday prior to the Ash Wednesday. This is the day when women of the city take control of the affairs! It is a week-long carnival during which there are no closing times for pubs and bars of the city. Additionally, despite being very cold, people can be seen outdoors, enjoying their quiet drinks on the streets!

 

London’s Notting Hill Carnival

Even though it happens in August each year, the Notting Hill Carnival’s offerings are by far the largest in all of Europe. The carnival came into being during the 1960s, as a means to ease up tensions between the local English people and the immigrants from the British colonies of the Caribbean. The main parties happen over the weekend during which Notting Hill can be seen dancing to Caribbean music, bursting with sequins and feathers, and relishing Caribbean cuisine. The Notting Hill Carnival festivities are perceived by a large majority of Britishers as amongst the biggest and most significant celebrations in the country each year.

Italy’s Venetian Carnival

This carnival has an age old tradition and history associated with it. Quite like it was during the Middle Ages, the origins of the Venetian can be traced back to the 13th century when it was common for nobles to disguise themselves using masks, so as to easily mingle with the common folk. The Venetian party continues to retain its former glory even today, as attendees can be seen wearing conventional masks and costumes. The masks seen today are normally decadent and ornate; white in colour and edged with a dark coloured cloth, combined with three-cornered hats in order to ensure complete anonymity. Multiple private parties and masked balls are also held inside some of the Venice’s palaces