Nine alternatives to the Rio Carnival

Katie Gatens
06 February 2015

Because we can’t all be in Rio de Janeiro for the world’s largest street party, here are nine other places that will be getting into the carnival spirit this month

London, UK
When? 11-17 February 2015
It might not have the same balmy temperature as the Brazilian capital, but London makes up for it with bags of brightly coloured costumes, sizzling street food, rum cocktails and samba dancers. Head to Guanabara in Covent Garden, where there’s a week-long celebration that incorporates all of the above.

Goa Carnival, India
14-17 February 2015
Celebrated since 1961 as throwback to its Portuguese heritage, the Goan festival stretches for three to four days with carnival floats, dancing, traditional Indian music and a lot of eating. The parade opens with an elected King – dubbed King Momo – who orders his subjects to, well, party. Expect to get covered in coloured powder and water by fellow revellers.

Oruro Carnival, Bolivia
When? 14-17 February 2015
Things get devilish at Bolivia’s biggest festival where, during a ‘dance of the devils’, around 30,000 performers dress up as demonic dancers headed by an elaborate Lucifer. Stick around for the ‘Dia del Agua’, the week after Ash Wednesday, which involves a no-holds-barred water fight through the city, where everyone and everything gets drenched.

Maslenitsa, Moscow, Russia
16-22 February 2015
Maslenitsa, or ‘butter week’, is a traditional Slavic festival, and proves that you don’t need a hot climate to have fun in February. However you party, pancakes are on the menu (they’re eaten every day of the festival) so you’ll either love them or hate them by the end of the week.

Trinidad Carnival, Trinidad and Tobago
16-17 February 2015
If you want to bare a little (or a lot) skin, make sure you’re in Trinidad on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The streets are filled with thousands of dancers donning exotic plumes, with lilting calypso and Soca music as their soundtrack. The party starts early here – most celebrations kick off at 4am – and ghetto-blasting trucks blare out beats to revellers into the early hours. Not for the faint-hearted.

Carnevale di Venezia, Italy
Until 17 February 2015
If you fancy something a bit more sophisticated, grab a decorated mask (or you can make your own) and head to the famed waterways of Venice. Masks are usually made out of porcelain, glass or leather, and decorated with feathers, gems and gold leaf. It’s a bit of a fashion show, but music, dancing and merriment are all central to the festivities.

Le Carnaval de Binche, Brussels
15-17 February 2015
The celebrations in the small village of Binche were recognised by Unesco in 2003 as a ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but if you’re in doubt, head over there to see the clown-like Gilles – performers in identical wax masks – plus a variety of folkloric events.

Carnaval Santa Cruz de Tenerife
When? 11-22 February 2015
Although it may be a tiny Canary island, Tenerife is home to one of the largest carnival celebrations outside of Rio, involving 250,000 revellers and culminating in a 24-hour party on Shrove Tuesday. The whole island comes alive with elaborate parades, costumed dancers and music.

Nice Carnival
When? 13 February-1 March 2015
Dating back to 1294, Nice is regarded as the original carnival. Every year brings with it a new theme, and this year’s is ‘The King of Music’ – interpret that as you will. Papier-mâché floats bigger than houses crawl along the streets during a week of gluttony and merrymaking.