With the carnival season in full swing it’s time to hit the streets! You don’t need to fly to Rio de Janeiro – there are numerous festivities taking place around Europe right now! We have hand-picked some of the most colourful events. Get ready for feathers, sequins, fancy costumes, music and dance!
11 – 28 February The Carnival of Venice, Italy
Let’s begin with the one and only carnival in Venice. Its beginnings date back to 11th century and the idea behind the traditional carnival masks, as some scholars claim, was to resemble social equality. Mask contests take place every day during the carnival, which is the perfect opportunity to see the opulence of colours and the best of Venice mask makers craft.
11 – 26 February Nice Carnival, France
We are moving from Italy to Nice to the colourful parade of papier-mâché figures and floats. Since the tragic events from 2016, the festival area is protected by special guards and security checks are in place. The origins of the carnival go back to the 13th century. The festivities on the French Riviera attract over a million tourists each year.
23 February – 5 March Santa Cruz Carnival, Tenerife
Just as colourful as its Rio counterpart, the Carnival in Santa Cruz is a huge event on Tenerife, and surely, the largest one in Europe. The carnival preparations take the whole year when the motto of the festival is made public. This year’s theme is the Caribbean! The carnival queen is chosen during the first week, followed by colourful street parties, called Mogollones. The carnival ends with a festive Coso parade with dancers on moving platforms and “The Burial of the Sardine”.
11 February – 1 March Cologne Carnival, Germany
One of the largest and most important cultural events in Germany, Cologne Carnival, sees the streets taken by people dressed up in the most amazing costumes. The carnival’s highlight is the Rose Monday when the official parade takes place. The carnival is famous for satire puppets of politicians and fancy costumes. There are more and more spectators flocking to Cologne each carnival.
17 January – 1 March Rijeka Carnival, Croatia
Nestled on the Adriatic coast, Rijeka is a charming port town in northern Croatia. The Carnival of Rijeka is a melting pot of other European carnivals from Cologne and Venice, topped with Slavonic mythology. Therefore, do not be surprised to see Romans, Indians, or Slavonic devils dancing next to each other on Rijeka’s streets. The festival closes the International Carnival Parade with floats and hundreds of people wearing all different costumes and masks.