Special Report

The Most Popular Carnivals in the World

Source: Erikt / Wikimedia Commons

11. King’s Day
> Location: Holland
> Dates: April 27, 2019

King’s Day is a national holiday celebrated throughout Holland. Each year, close to 1 million people squeeze into the streets of Amsterdam for the largest King’s Day festival. While starting out as Princess’s Day in honor of the birth of Queen Wilhelmina in 1885, it was later renamed Queens Day for former monarch Queen Beatrix, and has been King’s Day since the 2013 crowning of King Willem-Alexander. This party begins the night before, on King’s Night, at local bars that host a variety of concerts and events. The next day brings an epic spread of flea market stalls, heavy beer drinking, and the profuse wearing of orange, Holland’s national color.

Source: james63 / Getty Images

12. Cadiz Carnival
> Location: Spain
> Dates: February 28 – March 10, 2019

Cadiz Carnival, the oldest carnival celebration on mainland Spain, dates back to the 16th century, when Venice was a trading partner and strong cultural influence. What sets this carnival apart is the focus on humor and satire through music. Singing groups called chirigotas perform satirical pieces, and a fierce singing competition is held for large groups of musicians called coros. They spend all year making costumes and writing songs that ridicule popular cultural and political figures. In addition to the witty musical offerings, flamenco, tango, jazz, and folk musicians play on every corner.

Source: Woodkern / Getty Images

13. Day of the Dead
> Location: Mexico
> Dates: October 31 – November 2, 2019

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a celebration in honor of those who have died. It’s thought that the festival has its roots in an Aztec belief that for a brief period of time each year the dead returned to walk the earth. In Mexico city, up to 300,000 attendants come out to the parade, featuring hundreds of performers and floats, all dressed as skeletons.

Source: digivuza / Getty Images

14. Nice Carnival
> Location: France
> Dates: February 16 – March 2, 2019

One of the oldest carnivals on Earth, the Nice Carnival dates back to the 13th century and is attended by 1 million people annually. The nearly two-week long celebration features a different theme each year and parades nearly every day. The parades are known for their floats containing giant papier-mâché puppets and the famous Battle of the Flowers, where nearly 100,00 flowers are thrown from the floats onto the streets.

Source: Patrick B from Toronto, Canada / Wikimedia Commons

15. Caribana
> Location: Toronto, Canada
> Dates: August 1 – August 4, 2019

The largest Caribbean festival in North America, Caribana sees up to 2 million visitors every year. This celebration of Caribbean culture began in the ’60s as a way to highlight West Indian culture in Canada and fund a West Indian cultural center. The summer festivities feature film, stage acts, ferry cruises and soca, steel drums, and calypso music. The finale is a huge carnival-style parade.

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