11 Carnivals Around the World for 2023
Whether you call it the carnival, Mardi Gras or simply a fête, the approach of Lent brings with it a wonderful explosion of colour and exuberance. Travel Begins at 40 selects some of its favourite carnivals around the world for 2023 from Notting Hill (we know its not near Lent) to Rio and the icy Quebec to balmy Trinidad.
Here are our 2023 Carnivals from around the world.
Biggest Carnival in the World
Carnivals 2023 : Rio Carnival, 17 to 25 February
Where else to start other than the biggest and most famous carnival in the world? The Rio Carnival attracts hundreds of thousands of people to watch the wonderful parades, incredible costumes or practice their samba dancing. If you haven’t booked your flights and accommodation for the World’s greatest party yet, then it’s probably too late, but there’s always next year. Further information on the Rio Carnival.
Carnivals 2023 : Trinidad Carnival, 21 to 22 February
The Trinidad Carnival is a mix of centuries of tradition and solid fun, and is probably the most vibrant carnival in the Caribbean. Loud music and rum are played as a last hurrah before Lent. Soca, steel pan, calypso, and chutney combine Indian folk/Bollywood with soca. Further information on the Trinidad Carnival.
Carnivals 2023 : Barranquilla Carnival, Colombia, 18 to 21 February
The Barranquilla Carnival is the world’s second biggest fiesta with magnificent street parades, traditional dancers, local food and the South American country’s joyous cumbia music. For four days the Colombian port city of Barranquilla turns topsy-turvy with parties, music, dance and colour, doing justice to the Carnival’s motto Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza, “Those who live it are those who enjoy it”. Further information on the Barranquilla Carnival.
Carnivals in Europe 2023
Canivals 2023 : Lemon Festival, Menton, 11 to 26 February
The town of Menton on the Côte d’Azur bursts into yellow with stunning displays, floats and sculptures made of citrus fruit. Noted for the quality of its lemons, Menton first held La Fête du Citron in 1934. Thousands of people turn up each year to see over 100 tonnes of fruit turned into wonderful displays. This year’s festival has the theme of Rock and Opera. Further information on the Fete du Citron.
Carnivals 2023: Nice Carnival (Carnaval de Nice), 10 to 26 February
Just along the coast and at the same time as they are displaying lemons in Menton, Nice is celebrating one of the oldest in the world. Charles Anjou, the Count of Provence, was said to have visited it in 1294, although then it was a more private affair, without the flower parades that characterise the current carnival. In celebration of the rich relationship between Nice and the film industry, this year’s carnival celebrates King of the Treasures of the World. Further information on the Nice Carnival.
Carnivals 2023: Venice Carnival (Carnevale di Venezia) 14 to 23 February
If wearing masks is your thing – even post-covid -, then the Venice Carnival is the place to be this Carnival season. Masked regattas and the most beautiful mask competition are held in the Italian city, as flying angels and eagles descend upon St Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace. There is even a beauty contest. If your budget stretches you might even attend a masked ball. This year’s theme is the enigmatic Take Your Time for the Original Signs. Further information on the Venice Carnival.
Carnivals 2023: Sitges Carnival, 16 to 22 February
One of the gay capitals of Europe, the Catalonian coastal town of Sitges welcomes 250,000 partygoers coming for a week of pumping parties, drag processions and colourful parades, culminating with the burial of the sardine. During this time, the streets are brought to life with parties, music, dancing, parades and performances. All this and Barcelona on your doorstep too. Who needs a second invitation? Further information on the Sitges Carnival.
Carnivals 2023: Carnival of Binche (Carnaval de Binche), 19 to 21 February
Belgium’s take on the carnival turns to the surreal in the small Walloon town of Binche. Hundreds of locals roam the street like rejected cast from the Walking Dead, changing costumes from Guy Fawkes masks to outrageous hats with white ostrich plumes. Expect fireworks, lots of dancing and plenty of beer drinking in the most unusual of pre-Lent celebrations. Further information on the Carnival of Binche.
Carnivals in the UK
Carnivals 2023: Notting Hill Carnival, 26 to 28 August
Let’s be honest there really is only one daddy carnival of them all in the UK. The Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of all that is great in multicultural London, especially the Caribbean community. Held over the August bank holiday weekend, the fun starts with a steelband competition on the Saturday, followed by children’s day on the Sunday and finally the grand parade on the Monday. Turn up for the Mas bands, steel bands, Brazilian bands and enormous fun. Further information on the Notting Hill Carnival.
Carnivals Around the World 2023 – North America
Carnivals 2023: Quebec Winter Carnival, 3 to 12 February
Held since 1955, the Quebec Winter Carnival certainly takes our prize for the coldest of our offerings. The main draw is Bonhomme, a seven-foot high snowman who wears a large red hat and brings some Quebecois joie de vivre with him. Drink caribou, watch ice canoe races, ice hockey and dog-sledding, or join the Masquerade ball. Further information on the Quebec Winter Carnival.
Carnivals 2023: New Orleans Mardi Gras, 21 February
New Orleans’ Mardi Gras or ‘Fat Tuesday’ is one of the greatest parties in the States. Stemming from the time when the French occupied this part of the country, now Mardi Gras is a wonderful explosion of parades and music, celebrating the start of Lent. There’s also hard partying going on down in the French Quarter. Whatever you do, be prepared to celebrate. Further information on the New Orleans Mardi Gras.
2 Other Carnivals Around the World
Alternatively, try Rotterdam Carnival; Viareggio Carnival 2023 (Carnevale di Viareggio) Italy , Panama Carnival (Panama Carnaval), 2023; Mashramani Carnival, Guyana; Basel Carnival (Fasnacht), Switzerland, 2023; and Cologne Carnival.
Accommodation for Carnivals Around the World
If you are looking for accommodation at any of these carnivals, please fill in the form below.
More information on Carnivals Around the World
For more information on these carnivals, or any other festivals, visit our Events page.
(Information updated on 17 January 2023, from original article published in February 2019).