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Europe is par excellence one of the continents where carnival is most fervently celebrated. Each country has its own way of celebrating the festivities carnival. While some carnivals have great historical meaning with mysterious characters, others celebrate beauty and human genius.

Carnivals in each country are varied, some of them have their owncultural elements, while others celebrate diversity. Each celebration is colorful and full of joy, but each one has characteristics that make them unique and unrepeatable. Colorful costumes, feathers, music and glitter are the highlights of the festivities. However, you can also find mysterious masks, rituals and ceremonies like something out of a fatasia book.

 

We accompany you to discover the10 best Carnivals in Europe..

 

10. Notting Hill Carnival, UK

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The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the most well-known Caribbean carnivals in all of Europe. This wonderful party is held in the city of London, the current capital of England in United Kingdom. The Carnival first emerged as a form of protest against racist demonstrations in 1958 in the city. These demonstrations resulted in 3 days of major riots, as well as hundreds of injuries and arrests. Taking the event as a reference, the first Notting Hill carnival was held in 1966, although this was only a private dance.

Over time, the carnival evolved and acquired new elements. Currently, the Notting Hill Carnival is a symbol of resistance. Moreover, it is one of the best spaces for the Caribbean and Latin American community to express itself through dancing and music. Today, the Notting Hill Carnival has a large number of activities for all audiences and is considered the largest street festival in the world.

 

Colorful costumes are one of the attractions of the Notting Hill Carnival parades

Colorful costumes are one of the attractions of the Notting Hill Carnival parades

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During Notting Hill Carnival you can find a lot of events. One of them is the J’ouvert, characteristic of Caribbean carnivals. The J’ouvert is a big street party where the characters are completely filled with paint, mud or talcum powder. In addition, there is also theGrand Carnival Parade, one of the biggest attractions of the festival. It is a street event full of music, dancing, celebration and culture of the Caribbean islands, the afro-descendant and Latin American community.

 

The Notting Hill Carnival is actually a summer celebration or festival, as it takes place in the middle of summer. LNotting Hill Carnival will take place from approximately August 29th to August 30th. In addition, the carnival features some pre-carnival events that you won’t want to miss.

 

9. Carnival of Cadiz, Spain

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The Carnival of Cadiz is one of the most popular festivals in all of Spain. The event is a wonderful representation of culture through musical pieces that occur daily. Cadiz is located in the autonomous community of Andalusia, southwest of Spain. Carnival has been present in the city since the 16th century. In its early years, the carnival was strongly censored by the authorities, both the government and the church. However, due to a serious event in the city, the carnivals were fully accepted as a way to cheer up the population after the accident.

 

The celebration is replete with artistic demonstrations from start to finish. Dozens of groupings take to the streets to present various saritic and humoristic musical pieces. The groupings are divided between comparsas, chirigotas, cuartetos, romanceros and ilegales. All of these have particular characteristics, some include music, while others opt for the use of posters and images. The official carnival groups perform at the Gran Teatro Falla holding concerts.

 

The Cadiz Carnival is a great celebration with music and satire

The Cadiz Carnival is a great celebration with music and satire

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In addition to all these wonderful expressions unique to the city, the carnival also has a good amount of events. One of the most outstanding is the Grand Carnival Parade, known as the Cabalgata Magna. In the event dozens of decorated carriages parade in the company of dancers and bandas musical. It is a great colorful show that attracts thousands of spectators every year.

The Carnival of Cadiz takes place following the traditional calendar of festivities, being held before Ash Wednesday. However, the festivities extend up to a week after Shrove Tuesday.

 

 

8. Cologne Carnival, Germany

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The Cologne City Carnival is one of the most famous and largest carnivals in all of Germany. The city is located on the banks of the Rhine River, in the west of the country. Carnival has been present in this charming city since the Middle Ages. However, these were primitive celebrations, not the carnivals we know today. Over the years, the carnival has evolved and integrated wonderful elements that make it one of the most special in all of Germany.

 

Carnival is full of events, costumes, fun and dances. Each year, the carnivals take on a specific theme to commemorate some event. For the year 2021, the theme will be “Nur zesamme sin mer Fastelovend“, which for Spanish would come to mean: Only together we are carnivals. Cologne carnival has a lot of fun and colorful events.

 

The Cologne Carnival is known in the city as the craziest days

The Cologne Carnival is known in the city as the craziest days

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Cologne’s carnivals are known as “The Crazy Days“, so everyone dresses up in crazy costumes. The city has great events from start to finish, with some events even taking place in the month of November the year before. The carnivals feature a particular event called “Phantom Parade“, in which people dress up as witches or ghosts to go around the city. The main event is the Rosenmontag, when the streets are filled with thousands of costumes colorful and funny costumes.

Although November 11 is when the formal opening of the carnivals takes place, it is not until February that the carnival reaches its peak.

7. Kurentovanje of Ptuj, Slovenia

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The ancient city of 69 BC in Slovenia is the epicenter of one of the most authentic and mysterious carnivals in all of Europe. Ptuj is located in northeastern Slovenia, near the border with Hungary, Croatia and Austria. Carnival has been present since 1610, when the first masked activities and games began to take place. However, it is not known on what date it was created or how the main character of the carnival known as Kurent originated. The Carnival began to gain strength in the city after the Second World War World War and has continued to the present day.

Ptuj Carnival is an incredible mysterious celebration that occupies a large number of unique characters. The main figure of the carnival is known as Kurent. This character represents a demon that scares away winter and welcomes spring. In addition, he features a head-to-toe costume made of sheep fur. There are also other characteristic characters such as dancers, gypsies, dragons, people disguised as hens and horses and many more costumes.

 

The Kurent is the Main Character of the Ptuj Carnival

The Kurent is the Main Character of the Ptuj Carnival

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The celebration in the city features a lot of events, one of them is the epicenter for the meeting of other adjacent cultures. During the carnival, many other carnival characters and festivities from other cities and countries come for a large multicultural parade with lots of masks and costumes. The Carnival also features evening events, children’s carnivals and art and painting exhibitions.

Ptuj Kurentovanje is a celebration that takes place 11 days before Ash Wednesday and culminates on Shrove Tuesday.

 

6. Basel Carnival, Switzerland

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In Switzerland, near the border of Germany and France, there is an ancient city known as Basel, which holds one of the best carnival parties in all of Europe. The carnival has been part of the city since the 14th century; however, it is not until after World War II that it takes on its present form. The celebration of Carnival in the City of Basel is full of color and interesting characters.

 

The Basel Carnival is a constant celebration from start to finish. It also has a number of interesting characters that roam the city and take part in the parades. One of the main characters is the Waggis, which can also be found areas of Germany and France. In addition, there is also the Ueli and the Harlekin, representing the buffo and arlekin respectively.

 

Music is also part of the Basel Carnival

Music is also part of the Basel Carnival

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The Fasnacht or Basel Carnival features a number of events not to be missed. The celebration is characterized by its lamp parade known as “Morgenstreich”. Dozens of large lamp parades take to the streets in the dark. In addition, it also features the main parades known as Cortège, where all the characters, floats and themed lanterns participate.

Due to a series of reforms made in the 16th century, the Basel carnival is not held during the traditional calendar, which specifies that carnivals take place before Ash Wednesday. In this case, the celebration takes place after Ash Wednesday.

 

5. Carnival of Ivrea, Italy

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The medieval town of Ivrea is the epicenter of one of the most particular carnivals in all of Italy. Ivrea is located in Turin, northwestern Italy. The carnival in Ivrea has been practiced since the Middle Ages, but only began to be formally documented in the 19th century. The celebration is replete with various events, characters, popular foods and wonderful parades. However, the main feature of the Ivrea carnival is the Great Battle of Oranges.

The Carnival of Ivrea is the living representation of the many historical events that have forged the city. One of the main events that have marked in a particular way is the assassination of a local tyrant by a young girl. Nowadays, the figure of the girl is one of the main ones and is known as Mugnaia, who rides through the city in a chariot. However, it is not the only figure, there are also other characters who perform tasks and functions during the carnival.

 

The war of oranges is a symbolic event of the Ivrea Carnival

The war of oranges is a symbolic event of the Ivrea Carnival

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Carriages, horses, knights and historical characters are one of the attractions of the carnival in the city of Ivrea; however, the real attraction of the city is the majestic battle of oranges. During the carnivals, locals split into 9 teams that fight each other throwing oranges at each other. The whole event happens in the blink of an eye, as thousands upon thousands of oranges fly through the air to hit the participants. The Carnival also includes in its festivities other events such as the Burning of the Scarlo and the different popular meals that take place in the locals and squares.

The Ivrea Carnival is a celebration that lasts for more than a month, although the most popular celebrations take place a few daysbefore Ash Wednesday.

 

 

4. Carnival of Binche, Belgium

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The city of Binche is home to one of the most speculiar and interesting carnivals in Europe. The city is located in the province of Hainaut, southwestern Belgium. No one knows for sure how or when these carnivals came about, there are only a few theories about it. However, the carnival had been passed down orally for several centuries. Generally, the characters and traditions of the carnival are passed from generation to generation, so the tradition is passed from grandparents to parents and then from parents to children.

Many locals indicate that the festivities have remained almost intact due to the strong commitment on the part of the families and organizations that put on the festivities. For this reason, the Binche carnival has been listed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2003.

 

The Binche Carnival is a tradition that has remained the same for centuries

The Binche Carnival is a tradition that has remained the same for centuries

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The celebration integrates a wide range of street performances, musical presentations, dances and the traditional parades. In addition, the carnival features a good number of characters, one of these is the Gille. The Gille is a white-masked character with some facial hair, red and yellow patterned clothing and green glasses. There are also Peasants, Arlequins and Pierrots. The Carnival Carnival also features a number of other characters.

The Carnival of Binche is celebrated on the traditional dates of the carnival; that is to say, they are celebrated between the month of February and the month of March. TheBinche carnivals are celebrated approximately from February 14 to 16.

 

 

 

3. Viareggio Carnival, Italy

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Viareggio is a beautiful coastal town located in Tuscany, southwestern Italy. The town of Viareggio is home to one of the most incredible and colorful events in all of Italy and Europe. Carnival has been part of the city since the 19th century and has been developing progressively over the years. The event stands out for its incredible themed floats. These floats are unlike any other, as they can measure up to 20 meters tall.

It is not only the size that is impressive about these floats, but also the design of the floats. The design of these floats takes months of preparation, relying on the help of thousands of people for the design and construction of the allegorical cars. In addition, each of the floats conveys a particular message, either as a protest vehicle or simply to commemorate a particular figure.

 

The Viareggio Carnival is one of the largest in Italy and Europe

The Viareggio Carnival is one of the largest in Italy and Europe

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Parades occur repeatedly during the carnival week. In addition, each of the floats falls into a specific category. These categories are limited to the characteristics of the carroza and the size of the group. The categories range from First class floats, second class floats, masked groups and individual category, being the first mentioned the most ostentatious and elaborate and the last mentioned the most simple and with few members. In addition, during the parade the floats are accompanied by a large group of dancers and costumed people in relation to the thermique represented by the allegorical car.

The Carnival of Viareggio takes place in compliance with the traditional calendar of carnivals, since they take place in the city from February to March.

 

 

2. Nice Carnival, France

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The Nice Carnival is the most beautiful and well-known festival in France. Celebrated in the city of Nice, located in the department of the Alpes-Maritimes Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in France, the carnival is one of the largest and most popular events in the entire region. The first time the carnival was recorded was in the year 1294; however, during that time, carnivals were celebrated in a more primitive way, not at all similar to today’s carnivals.

The Carnivals of Nice are certainly one of the most agraciados, elaborate and beautiful in the whole country. The festival features a large number of shows, including large themed floats, music bands, dancers, acrobats and big dolls that move from one side to the other. Each of the floats has a different theme. While some floats are filled with flowers, others have satirical dolls of political figures.

 

Large colorful floats are the main attractions of the Nice Carnival

Large colorful floats are the main attractions of the Nice Carnival

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During the festivities there are 3 different types of parades: Bataille de Fleurs, Corso Carnavalesque Illuminé and Corso Carnavalesque – Parade Nissarda, also known as Battle of Flowers, Parade of Lights and Carnival Parade – Parade Nissarda. All these parades have themes, elements and characteristics of their own. During the events, spectators flock to see one of the most impressive spectacles in the country.

The Nice Carnival welcomes around 1 million visitors each year. In addition, the events take place during the traditional carnival calendar, being held from the month of February to the month of March.

 

 

1. Venice Carnival, Italy

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The Venice Carnival is without a doubt, the most famous carnival in all of Italy and Europe. It is one of the carandals that has most influenced the festivities of adjacent areas and countries with its mysterious masks and colorful costumes. The Carnival has been held in the city since 1296, being one of the oldest in the country. The festivities feature a variety of magnificent and llamatic events that occur in the various towns, streets and canals of the city.

 

The entirecity of Venice is the setting for amazing shows such as the Festa Veneziana sull’acqua, Festa delle Marie, Il Concorso della Maschera più bella, Il Volo dell’Angelo and the Svolo del Leone. These and many other events are the protagonists of the festivities. However, the villages that make up the city also celebrate carnivals in their own way. Spectacles, contests costume contests, parades and food fairs are some of the activities that take place during the city’s carnival festivities.

 

The Venice Carnival masks are unique in their style, being a centuries-old tradition

The Venice Carnival masks are unique in their style, being a centuries-old tradition

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As if that were not enough, a wide variety of private balls are also held in the historic buildings of the city. Some of these dances that stand out most in the city are: the Mascheranda at Palazzo Pisani Moretta, Baile Casanova: Perfume of Woman and Masquerade Ball of Santa Chiara. These dances feature surprising thematics that will transport you to a remote and magical era.

The events that take place both in the city center of Venice and in the adjacent villages occur on different dates. However, they always occur before Ash Wednesday.

 

 

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