Carnival is a special time of the year and always offers lots of fun and entertainment. Carnival fans usually start the season as early as November 11th and are dressed up until Ash Wednesday. Year after year, numerous destinations worldwide inspire visitors and encourage them to experience the regional carnival traditions. There are many carnival hotspots, whether in Germany the strongholds of Cologne, Mainz or Düsseldorf, Venice, Rio de Janeiro or the Caribbean - here people celebrate and dance extensively! Elaborate costumes and an exuberant atmosphere are in the foreground and invite you to dive into the colourful world of carnival.
Carnival is celebrated in many places, but some are particularly popular and attract large numbers of visitors every year.
Carnival in Venice offers a real contrast to carnival in the German strongholds. Here the elaborate and pompous costumes are in the foreground and transform Venice into a real fashion show for the fifth season. Once the Venetian carnival was characterized by a masked ball and numerous performances in the opera. Unsightly customs such as egg throwing, where a distinction was made between beautiful and ugly women, and the great ox slaughter in St. Mark's Square, including gambling, were also part of the tradition at that time. After a ban on carnival in 1797, the carnival did not return to Venice until 1970, when some locals celebrated a big costume party, whose images spread all over the world and heralded the Venetian carnival of today. The colourful carnival season in Venice begins about 10 days before Ash Wednesday and starts with the so-called "Volo dell'Angelo", the flight of angels. Here, an artist floats on a steel cable from the almost 100-metre high Campanile down to St. Mark's Square and delights the spectators. With the start of the carnival, numerous parades, stage shows and music performances begin, which provide a lot of variety. Another highlight is the costume parade including the award for the most beautiful costume and the election as carnival queen. In addition to the publicly accessible highlights around St. Mark's Square and the many elaborate costumes and masks that can be admired during this time, there are also many private events. These events are exclusive and often booked out months in advance.
One of the highlights in Venice is "Il Ballo del Doge", which has been held annually since 1994. Here, visitors experience a time long past and spend an evening full of extravagance, entertainment and of course excellent cuisine. Antonia Sautter creates a spectacular event as organizer and designer. Dressed in the elegant and elaborate costumes of the designer from her studio, guests celebrate an evening full of surprises. In addition to the costumes and the impressive decorations, more than 100 artists, great food, music and dance will delight the visitors.
In an idyllic location, about 15 kilometres from Venice, the Romantik Hotel Villa Margherita in Mira is situated directly on the Brenta River. In the stately 17th century building with its spacious park, you can relax after an exciting day in Venice. The restaurant Margherita spoils guests with fresh, traditional dishes and selected wines of the Veneto.
The carnival in Rio de Janeiro is world-famous - and with good reason. With around 88,500 spectators in the stands and 3000 to 5000 active participants, the carnival parade in Rio is the largest in the world. Here, countless dancers in colourful costumes and exuberant music thrill the masses. All samba schools in Rio take part in the spectacle and dance for days to win. The highlight is the grand finale, which always takes place on Carnival Sunday and Monday. Here six samba schools compete in front of a jury and demonstrate their skills in the 700-meter-long Sambódroma fighting arena.
It becomes even more exotic on the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, where the second largest carnival in the world after Rio de Janeiro is celebrated. The costumes of the donkey, crook and devil are especially popular here. This custom dates back to colonial times, when the local population caricatured the rulers in this form.
Carnival is celebrated exuberantlyin Spain, too. Here, the music is in the foreground and flamenco, samba, paso doble and African rhythms merge into one another. The parades take place every Sunday before and after Ash Wednesday. The Gaditános - the inhabitants of Cádiz - have been celebrating Carnival since the 17th century.
The Russian carnival in Moscow is called Maslenitsa and is the happiest festival in the city. Maslenitsa means butter week and goes back to the old tradition that before Lent no meat was consumed, but dairy products like butter and cheese were allowed. Today, carnival is a big public festival with fairground stalls, carousels and colourful parades. At the end of the carnival, the people of Moscow burn the Maslenitsa doll as a symbol of hope for warmer days.
In the Netherlands Maastricht is the carnival stronghold. With cheerful singing, exuberant music and funny costumes, the so-called "Pekskes", the Dutch celebrate carnival. Traditionally the herring dinner is also held here and children even have carnival lessons in Maastricht schools on the Friday before carnival.
About 20 kilometres from Maastricht, the Romantik Parkhotel Het Gulpdal is idyllically situated away from the hectic city life. Guests stay in stylish, luxurious rooms and suites and enjoy specialities made from fresh seasonal produce in the hotel's own restaurant.