Karneval, Carnival, Mardi Gras — the festival goes by many names. Whatever you call it, this holiday is chock-full of happiness, hijinks, and just the right amount of hedonism. Whether you’re trying to get your sinful tendencies out of the way in time for Lent or just jumping on the festival bandwagon, we have a rundown of the best spots to celebrate.
1. Go crazy in Cologne
Want to dress like a pirate and stroll down the street with no questions asked? Then Cologne’s Karneval is right for you. Like a bachelor party before a wedding, Karneval was originally intended to vent all hedonistic thoughts and activities before Lent. Now, the party has evolved to costumes, parades, and (of course) lots of beer. This is Germany, after all.
Karneval takes over Cologne completely — so much so that it’s known as the city’s “Fifth Season.” Huge floats, street parties, and music all combine to create the perfect atmosphere. So let your hair down and turn the volume up, it’s time to party!
When: From February 28th to March 6th, 2019
2. Let loose in Trinidad and Tobago
Taking place over just two days, this festival definitely packs a punch. If you’re not too worried about missing a few hours of sleep, Carnival in Trinidad is perfect for you. Starting with a wild party where mud and oil are the costumes du jour, this celebration of island culture and music travels through the city with plenty of noise.
Although the amount of activity may look chaotic, everything is actually highly organized to culminate in Queen’s Park Savannah. Here the festival ends with a ceremony for the highly contested prizes of best band, the Calypso Monarch, and King and Queen of the Bands.
When: From March 4th to March 5th, 2019
3. Samba your way through Rio
Booming drums, feathers and sequins, and lots of skin — Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is world-famous for a reason. Over 2 million visitors line up each day to experience the technicolor festival in person. For locals, this is the chance for over 200 samba schools to compete (and make as much noise as they can) for parade honors.
If you aren’t keen to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the street parties, grab a ticket for the Sambadrome. There you can kick your feet up with a drink and enjoy the festival highlights.
When: From March 1st to March 9th, 2019
4. Go incognito in Venice
Batman was definitely onto something. Masks are a great accessory when you want to get up to some (preferably legal) shenanigans. Whether it’s an elaborately decorated bauta or a cheeky colombina, you’ll need one to celebrate Venice’s Carnival in local style.
Despite its origins as a celebration of an 1162 military victory, these days the emphasis is on street parties and gliding through the canals. For those creative spirits, you can even create your own unique mask — great for a souvenir and to find your friends in the crowd!
When: From February 16th to March 5th, 2019
5. Experience the magic in New Orleans
Welcome to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, where bead necklaces are a hot-ticket item and sleep is a far-off memory. With a reputation as a party city year round, you can be sure celebrations here are not for amateurs.
In the five days before the festival begins, the city’s population doubles in size. Once the carnival has started, krewes (local social clubs) present at least one major parade per day and shower onlookers with beads, moon pies, and other festive trinkets. If you want to learn more about the history of this event, take a break and tag along on a walking tour.
When: From March 2nd to March 6th, 2019
Do you have a favorite place to celebrate Carnival? Tell us in the comments below (hint: you’ll have to be logged into Facebook to share your tips with us).