February is for many people synonymous with celebration and carnival. Despite the great differences that its celebration presents in the world, their common characteristic is to be a period of permissiveness and lack of control.
It could be originated in pagan festivals such as those performed in honor of Bacchus and now it is mainly associated with Catholicism, as the Protestant cultures usually do not celebrate carnival, though some cultures have modified this tradition, like the Danish Carnival.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the biggest carnival celebration of the world is the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which this year takes place from 17 to 22 February. Over half a million tourists come each year to the city to enjoy the parades, dancing to the rhythm of samba and to live one of the best parties in the world.
However, the world’s longest carnival is held in the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo, it is celebrated throughout all the month of February. One of the highlights is the Desfile de las Llamadas, where the protagonists are thousands of drums playing a rhythm known as candombé.
In Spain, there are a couple of well-known celebrations, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Carnival of Cadiz, recognized as International Tourist Interest. Tenerife Carnival, will be held from 17 to 26 February, it is considered the second most important in the world and it has a spectacular presentation: carnival queens, transvestites, clowns…
In Europe, the Venice Carnival also highlights. It began on February 11 and runs until day 21. This elegant Italian feast was held for the first time in the eleventh century and at that time it consisted in more than two months of uncontrolled binge.
Returning to South America, the streets of the city of Oruro in Bolivia, are filled with thousands and thousands of people for over 2,000 years to view more than 28,000 traditional dancers, which has made this celebration named as a model Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, as the happy Carnival of Barranquilla, Colombia that will be held from 18 to 21 February. The Battle of Flowers will take place on next Saturday, the largest parade of costumes and floats.
In Argentina, the celebration of carnival is very important and it is done in different ways according to cultural geographic region, although the national capital of carnival is the city of Corrientes. Of course, other internationally renowned Brazilian carnivals are those of Salvador de Bahia, Recife and Olinda.
A little further north, we find a great tradition of celebrating this feast in Mexico, two of the most famous are the Carnival of Veracruz and Mazatlan. In the United States, the ultimate city of party is New Orleans, where its is always held before Ash Wednesday, the famous Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday that becomes the most wild and fun feast of the country, which this year will take place on February 21st : floats, dance, jazz, drink …
Although it may seem curious, Carnival is also celebrated in as diverse places as Goa, India where Christians and Hindus have fun in the same way, or in the islands of Trinidad and Tobago that thanks to its cultural mix of Amerindian, European, African, Indian and Chinese people, they have been able to take the best of each culture to put it together in a surprising way at this event.
Perhaps, Carnival is one of the most celebrated and most of all happy parties around the world, therefore, we would like to extend the list with your help. What is your favorite carnival around the world?