Special Report

The Most Popular Carnivals in the World

Source: the Tourism Office of Germany / Wikimedia Commons

6. Cologne Carnival
> Location: Germany
> Dates: February 28 – March 5, 2019

Cologne Carnival in Germany is the culmination of what Germans call the fifth season, a carnival season that runs between November 11 and Lent. Each year, millions of people attend the Cologne Carnival festivities that span the week before Lent. The Carnival is led by an elected trio that embodies the carnival spirit, called Dreigestirn, dressed up as a prince, a peasant, and a maiden. A highlight of the festival is the Rose Monday parade, where 10,000 costumed paraders along with floats and blaring music march through the city center.

Source: Daniel Liabeuf / Wikimedia Commons

7. Kandy Esala Perahera
> Location: Sri Lanka
> Dates: August 5 – August 15, 2019

This ten-day festival, also known as the Festival of the Sacred Tooth, features whip dancers, jugglers, fire-breathers, musicians, and costumed elephants. Over 100 elephants march through the streets in a procession carrying what is thought to be a tooth of the Buddha. Though honoring Buddhist traditions, the festival also incorporates aspects of Hinduism and celebrates the old gods of Ceylon.

Source: Kemal.kubbe / Wikimedia Commons

8. Mevlana Festival
> Location: Turkey
> Dates: December 7, 2019

The Mevlana or Whirling Dervish Festival is a week-long event held in Konya, Turkey. It is a celebration of the Sufi saint Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, and commemorates his union with Allah. One of Rumi’s teachings was an ecstatic form of dance performed as a connection to Allah. At this festival, thousands of Sufi pilgrims and tourists come to watch this dance performed in a ceremony called Sema, where dancers swirl around in large flowing skirts.

Source: William Metcalf Jr / Wikimedia Commons

9. Mardi Gras
> Location: New Orleans, USA
> Dates: March 5, 2019

For over 160 years, New Orleans has been home to Mardi Gras. Carnival festivities start in early January and culminate on Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, which is the last day before Lent. Over 1 million people attend this celebration every year. Mardi Gras features balls, masquerade parties, and parades with floats, marching bands, and costumed dancers who throw beads and coins into the crowd. Hundreds of social clubs, called krewes, spend weeks building their floats and preparing for the big parade.

Source: faceme / Flickr

10. Holi Festival
> Location: India, Nepal
> Dates: March 20 – 21, 2019

Holi, the Festival of Colors, is celebrated all over the world with large contingents in India and Nepal. Originally a Hindu festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil, it is now celebrated by people of various religions and cultures in South Asia. The night before the festival, a large bonfire is built and people gather and eat together. The main event, known as Rangwali Holi, involves people throwing handfuls of colorful powder at one another.

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