You know us – we’ll use any excuse to throw a fiesta. It’s part of our philosophy that life should be weighted heavily towards the good times, and that’s why we’re really into carnivals.
When you think about it, a carnival is a beautiful thing. It’s a phenomenon in which an entire community decides to hang up their work clothes, put on a silly costume and agree to dedicate a period of time to enjoying life to the fullest.
It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from – at a carnival, everyone is united by the purpose of having a good time.
So here’s a list of the eight best carnivals in the world to commemorate the essential art of partying.
Venice Carnival, Italy
One of the most famous carnivals in the world. Every January, Venice shakes off the winter blues with an enchanting street celebration like no other, as people take to the streets wearing very traditional (but very eerie!) white volto masks. With some of the weirdest and most wonderful costumes you’re ever likely to see on show, this carnival is like a fairytale come to life.
Mardi Gras, New Orleans, USA
The words ‘mardi gras’ loosely translates to ‘fatTuesdayy’, which is the perfect reflection of the celebration of excess that this carnival represents. It’s known for being a particularly debauched event that’s very popular with young people, and thanks to its combination of Louisiana BBQ, booze and bombastically fantastic parades, we can understand why!
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival
This carnival is such an important event to this small Caribbean island, that locals say that if you are not celebrating it, then you are reminiscing about the last one and preparing for the next. And we don’t blame them – when a party that big takes place on an island so small, it must feel like the whole earth is shaking with a party atmosphere!
Carnival of Oruro, Bolivia
Now, this is a truly unique carnival, so much so that it has been officially designated by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, which essentially means that it is so richly steeped in the culture of Bolivia that it should be protected as a tradition. It is a gloriously spiritual event, in which a story of good triumphing over evil is told by street performers over one weekend.
Caribana, Toronto, Canada
Isn’t Canada too cold for a festival? Apparently not, considering that this one attracts over 2 million attendees every single year. It started in 1967 as a celebration of the city’s Caribbean community, but the good vibes were so infectious that it has caught on to become the biggest cultural event in the whole of North America. And now, every year for one weekend in July, the streets of Toronto burst into the continent’s biggest flurry of song, dance and colourful costumes.
Notting Hill Carnival, London
This street fiesta is like London’s version of Toronto’s Caribana festival. It was originally set up to celebrate the local Caribbean population in Notting Hill, but there’s something about those vibes that make others want to join in, as it has now become Europe’s biggest street festival. As if the streets of London didn’t already have enough character and charm, for one weekend in August they are filled with the sound of steel drums playing calypso music as extravagant floats carry performers through the crowds. Incredible.
Carnival of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Now, this is our kind of carnival (it is Cuban after all!). Taking place in Santiago, the second largest Cuban city, this is the ultimate realisation of Cuban culture. It takes place at the end of July, so you can expect a fiery hot explosion of colour, contagious drum rhythms and of course, more mojitos than you can even imagine. Not only is it a wild fiesta, but it is so steeped in tradition and heritage that it serves as an exciting reminder to the Cuban population of their rich and interesting national history. Viva la revolución!
Rio de Janeiro Carnival, Brazil
Of course, we had to save the best until last. This is the ultimate carnival. It’s by far the biggest street celebration in the world, hosting over 2 million partygoers every single day, and it’s importance within the Brazilian calendar can’t be overstated. The vibrant costumes that fill the streets completely transform the city into a kaleidoscopic tapestry of colour, and attendees will tell you that it has to be seen to be believed. Get the cachaça and mix up some caipirinhas – this is the biggest carnival experience the world has to offer!
Unless you can make the trip to London, we’re guessing you don’t have access to a ground shaking carnival of huge proportions, right?
Well, at least you think you don’t. This weekend, we’re putting on our own Enero Carnival, and thanks to our Caribbean roots, it’s going to be the most authentically exotic carnival experience around.
Expect a night of incredible costumes and exciting live music (not to mention more than a few mojitos!). Book a table in advance here, to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun!