What is Carnival and Where Can You Celebrate It?

Carnival is a Catholic holiday celebrated worldwide. In February there are multiple countries and cities that turn into one big party with parades and brass bands. But what are we celebrating? And where do you have to go for the most unique and incredible experience?

Where does Carnival come from?

You can see carnival as a reversal ritual; days when societal roles are reversed and all norms about desired behavior disappear. The wearing of masks would have been to honor the deceased ancestors. In this way, they hoped to favor the spirit of that ancestor. Also, the masks were worn in hopes that winter would end sooner and summer would return.

About 5,000 years ago, festivals such as Carnival were already being celebrated in Mesopotamia. According to a Babylonian scripture, there was equality between subordinates and men but also between men and women. This is still an important part of the celebration. A clay tablet from Mesopotamia was also found in 2600 BC. On it there is a mention of a feast in which the slave was equal to his master and all other ranks and positions were punished. 1000 years later the Babylonian priest Berossus made such a similar report but he also described that the feast lasted 5 days.

Nr. 1: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is very well known when it comes to carnival. This destination is definitely at the top of the bucket list of many carnival celebrators. The Brazilians pull out all the stops to make it a great and above all successful carnival. The crazy carnival festivities last four days and there is plenty of partying. The highlight of these four days is definitely the 700 meter long parade. Especially for this parade, grandstands are placed along the road, so no one misses anything of this great party.

When: 24 February to 1 March

Nr. 2: Cologne, Germany

You don’t have to look far for a great carnival! Our neighboring country is also the place to be for a great carnival. The K├Âlner Karneval is one of the biggest carnival parties in the world. The party here mainly involves drinking a lot of beer! But don’t worry if you’re not really a beer drinker. During the Carnival days there are plenty of festivities that will appeal to you. There are also parades. Especially the ‘Rosenmontag’ – the big carnival parade on Monday – is definitely worth seeing. In need of a real party? Then Cologne is the place to be!

When: February 27 to March 4.

Nr. 3: Venice, Italy

Carnival in Venice is different than in any other country and also starts a little earlier than most celebrations. During this annual celebration, everyone wears masks. From back in the day, you were anonymous while wearing a mask. This way you could spend a lot of money on gambling, alcohol and much more without anyone noticing that it was you. Saint Mark’s Square is the heart of the Italian Carnevale, but there are also many festivities in the rest of the city. The special festival ends with a big fireworks show. The carnival in Venice is something you should definitely have visited once in your life!

When: 11 February to 28 February

Are you ready to experience this crazy and over the top Catholic holiday? Then get your balloons ( ballonnen ), party clothing and party goods ( feestversiering ) and pay a visit to our neighboring country or quickly hop on a plane to one of the many destinations where they can also go wild!

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