Mardi Gras, New Orleans carnival, USA
18.02.2012 – 21.02.2012
New Orleans is the largest city in the southern state of Louisiana and every year it hosts one of the oldest carnivals in the world – Mardi Gras. The tradition of Mardi Gras in America comes from 18th century Paris.
There are several parades during the carnival in New Orleans. They are organised by societies representing different neighbourhoods and they take place on specially prepared large trucks. Giving away free gifts to the crowd is a popular Mardi Gras tradition and they are usually thrown straight from the trucks. These include mascots, coins with symbols of schools organising the parade and coloured bread. A special delicacy of the carnival is a royal cake in the colours of Mardi Gras – purple (symbolising justice), green (faith) and gold (power).
Some street parades in New Orleans are very erotic and involve a lot of naked participants. An interesting fact is that New Orleans is the only city in America, where you are allowed to drink alcohol on the street.
Venice carnival, Italy
11.02.2012 – 21.02.2012
Venice is the home of the most popular carnival in Europe. It has a great history and tradition. Few people know that the event lasted for a full month back in the 18th century. Napoleon Bonaparte decided however, that it was too loud and cancelled it. The carnival has made its comeback in the 1980 and now lasts for 10 days. In the past, all rules and regulations were suspended in the city during the festive time. Masks and disguises were introduced to give a sense of anonymousity. That was until today. Elegant costumes, wigs and masks are an integral part of the Venetian fun. During that time, this beautiful Italian city is changed beyond recognition.
The main venue for the event is St. Mark’s square, which can be compared to an elegant ballroom. Another place is the small square of Piazetta. Each edition of the carnival has its own theme, which sets the tone for many street spectacles and happenings.
Nice carnival, France
17.02.2012 – 04.03.2012
In February, the most important event in France is undoubtedly the carnival in Nice. It is known all over the world for its magnificent parades. Platforms decorated in flowers, fairy tale characters and beautiful girls in spectacular costumes sweep through the city. Parades and demonstrations are also held late evening on the central square of Andre Massena.
An additional attraction of the Nice carnival is the battle of flowers. The audience and the participants throw mimosa branches at each other during the drive by. Later, a special masked ball is organised for everyone at the elegant Westminster and Atlantic hotels. The two-week madness ends with a fireworks display.
Rio de Janeiro carnival, Brazil
18.02.2012 – 21.02.2012
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is probably the most popular carnival in the world. In late February the city will be visited by many admirers of hot rhythms and samba. Tens of thousands of people gather in the specially prepared, open-air theatre, where they can watch the rivalry between the best dancing schools in the country. Their impressive and colourful outfits are usually prepared throughout the whole year.
After the sunset, the crowd parties on the Copacabana beach. The show is broadcast by numerous television networks from all over the world. The municipal authorities estimated that in 2011, the carnival in Rio had more than 800 thousand participants.
Basel carnival, Switzerland
27.02.2012 – 29.03.2012
The main part of the carnival in Basel lasts for 3 days. People march on the street of the Old Town to the rhythm of drums and flutes. The only lights on the streets are specially prepared lanterns carried by the participants of the procession. At 13.30, the parade starts from different locations in the city. Hundreds of people wear costumes resembling an old aunt, clowns, buffoons, villagers with a red nose and a straw thatch of hair. The audience is given oranges, sweets and branches of mimosa.
In the latter part of the event, the fun moves from the streets to the bars and restaurants, where performances are also held. Guests arriving at the Basel carnival can only be spectators. Masks and costumes are a privilege of the locals.
Trinidad and Tobago carnival
20.02.2012 – 21.02.2012
Trinidad and Tobago islands, lying along the Venezuelan coast are famous for their multi-coloured carnival. From the start of the new year, calypso rhythms can be heard everywhere here. Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, is a blend of different cultures from Africa, Asia, South and East. Residents of African descent, Indians, Europeans, Catholics, Protestants and Muslims unite in the carnival fun. The hedonistic party lasts for the whole month, but the culmination is during the last 3 days before Ash Wednesday.
Patras carnival, Greece
17.01.2012 – 27.02.2012
Patras is the third largest city in Greece and every year in January, it is the carnival capital of the country. This is one of the most famous events in Europe and it has a 160-year tradition. People here are dressed in spectacular costumes. On every corner there are shops where you can buy the necessary accessories such as masks and whistles. At the end of the carnival, there are two parades, one during the night on Saturday and one during the day on Sunday. The climax is the burning of the carnival king at sunset.
Oruro carnival, Bolivia
17.02.2012 – 20.02.2012
This is the second most famous carnival in South America, after Rio de Janeiro. It is hosted by the mining town of Oruro in north-western Bolivia. The event is held in honour of Our Lady of Socavon and Panchamamie. A characteristic custom of the event in Bolivia is the spraying of each other with water and foam.
Tenerife carnival, Spain
15.01.2012 – 26.02.2012
The capital of Tenerife – Santa Cruz – is the venue of this great event. The celebrations extend to other towns and nearby villages giving an impression of a wandering carnival. During that time offices and schools are closed and shopping can only be done in the morning hours.
The event is broadcast live on Spanish television. The weather is a big highlight as it never drops below 16 degrees Celsius. The whole madness ends with a funeral of a paper and wood sardine several meters long. The theme of the 2012 Tenerife carnival will be “flower power”.
Binche carnival, Belgium
20.02.2012 – 22.02.2012
The carnival in Binche has been entered on the list of UNESCO heritage. For 4 centuries, 600 identically dressed men march through the city. Each one of them wears a white hat and a wax mask with green glasses and a mustache. They carry wooden baskets full of oranges, which they throw into the crowd. As a result the viewers are covered in orange juice from head to toe, which apparently brings them luck.