Fancy taking a holiday trip this February but unsure where to go? Lent is on its way so that means it’s Carnival season in many Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox societies; European countries have some of the most happening Carnivals, plus they celebrate almost simultaneously. We have no time to waste so let’s head over to Europe and enjoy some cross country Carnival hopping!

France

First stop is Mandelieu La Napoule in southeastern France, located in the idyllic French Riviera. Every February 18th, this lovely, tranquill commune comes alive as everyone parties in the Carnival of Mimosa in Mandalieu La-Napoule. The small town lights up as they celebrate their native flower, the Mimosa; witness as giant floats decorated in Mimosas coast through town. Enjoy varieties of concerts ranging from samba to classical music and visitors get to revel in the beautiful view of the regions’ castles and a taste of their native wines.

On the same date, Mandalieu’s more metropolitan and bigger neighbor, Nice will also hold her annual pre-Lenten Carnival. Nice is a very popular vacation spot with its aquamarine sea, diverse shopping, impressive dining, exquisite art-deco facades and many tourist spots; it is the second largest French City in the Mediterranean.  Nice Carnival is one of the major Carnivals, comparable to the Brazilian and Venetian Carnival. This Carnival is a two week event and ends on Mardi Gras or fat Tuesday.

Germany

On the 19th, Germany will be celebrating two Carnivals: the Hamburg Carnival and the Munster Cathedral Carnival. The Hamburg Festival is an annual Fiesta that one may deem out of character because most expect Carnivals to be hosted by exotic places. The very urban city of Hamburg let’s her hair down and party like there’s no tomorrow, for three weeks during the Carnival. The streets will resound with contemporary as well as old music; everywhere you will see people donning colorful costumes. An ingenious host of handicraft artists welcomes you all through the revelry, creating beautiful street art in Hamburg’s main square.

Simultaneously in Munster, Germany, the people are also dancing about in the streets of this stunningly, picturesque city in the Westphalian region. The Munster Cathedral Carnival the historical carnival event of the year and is celebrated for three weeks, just like its counterpart in Hamburg. The Carnival features live dance events, street parties, beautiful German dresses, fanfares, medieval and contemporary music performed and showcased by the people in a magnificent display of Munster pride and traditions. This culturally proud and fun event is broadcasted over National television with millions of viewers from across Germany. The most awaited event is the Parade on the last Monday before Ash Wednesday.

Italy

The Tuscan city of Viareggio Italy is known for two things: It being a popular seaside resort and the Carnival of Viareggio. It is considered to be one of Italy and Europe’s most renowned carnival celebrations; this carnival became so famous because of its amazing floats and masks held alongside the local beach, Viareggio Avenue. These floats, masks and mascots are made of paper mache and they depict famous people like politicians, showmen and sportsmen.

Spain

After partying hard with the French, the Germans and the Italians, you will have a couple of days rest to sightsee and relax. Replenish your energy as the Spanish paint the city of Malaga with the colors of the rainbow on the 26th. Malaga is in the autonomous Community of Andalusia, in the Costa Del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean.

A week before Lent, the Carnival will commence with street parades featuring street bands, masquerades, quartets and choruses. The main parade on Carnival Sunday is the highlight of this event. On the days of the Carnival Week, local musical groups perform in different venues all over the city. One Malaga carnival tradition are groups of chirigotas cleverly singing satirical songs aimed at famous politicians and other prominent people; though one has to speak Spanish to appreciate this. The chirigotas compete for the title “The best chirigota ensemble of the year”. Like many Carnivals, a Carnival queen is crowned and also, A king Momo will be picked. Both wear unique and meticulous carnival outfits in the pageant through Malaga, as the townspeople parade along and eagerly join in the events. The fiesta ends in the last day of the Carnival called Entierro del boqueron (funeral of the anchovy).

Croatia

Also on the 26th of February, Croatia’s main seaport, Rijeka celebrates the hundred year old Rijeka Carnival. Thousands of people head to central Europe to experience one of the world’s biggest carnivals. The International Carnival of Rijeka is an annual event that has a 100-year-old tradition.

A combination of the ancient Slavs’ folklore and mythology with the usual pre-Lenten Carnival celebrations, the Rijeka Carnival customs include the making of “ugly masks”.

Many events precede the major event which is the Carnival Parade; such events as concerts, exhibitions, parties, performances and other festivities. During the main event, hundreds of floats, thousands of masked individuals as well as mere spectators gather round the streets in a high competitive spirit build on innovation, imagination and wittiness.

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