Celebrating Carnival around Europe

This weekend is the time in the Netherlands when the festive Carnival starts! It’s always a big party in the south of the Netherlands with lots of fun, dancing and crazy outfits.

Would you like to celebrate Carnival sometime? This article, with pieces written by guest authors as well, will show you some examples of destinations where you can have a nice time during Carnival.

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The Netherlands (Author Tamara – Girlswanderlust)
Carnival in the Netherlands officially starts on Sunday and lasts three days, but during the time, we already celebrate this festive from Saturday on. The Dutch also call Carnival as ‘vastenavond’. Originally, it’s a pagan European spring festival which was assimilated by the Catholic Church and celebrates the Christian holidays of Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Especially the Southern part of the Netherlands celebrates Carnival very big. Everyone dress up in all kinds of figures and there’s even special ‘Carnival’s music’ with lots of Dutch songs. It’s one happy festive. People from all over the Netherlands are coming to the South to celebrate the festive.

I can really recommend celebrating Carnival in the Netherlands ones! When you’re planning to, definitely think about the provinces Limburg and Brabant to celebrate it, because these places have the biggest parties. This year, the Carnival takes place from the 26th until the 28th of February. If you’re thinking about visiting the Netherlands next year, than the Carnival will take place from the 11th until the 13th of February.

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Cádiz, Spain (Cassandra – The Quirky Pineapple)
I first celebrated Carnaval in Cádiz, Spain, the original spot to celebrate it! Like New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States, Cádiz is the place to be for Carnaval! We got a group of us together to go and the festivities started on Thursday and ended on Monday. Cádiz is a very small city in the southern region of Spain, Andalucía. The streets were PACKED with people, dressed in hilarious costumes, and everyone was definitely in the spirit of celebrating! One thing that is very original to Carnaval in Cádiz is the performance of the “chirigotas” which are groups from the town that sing about pop culture, political satire, and more. They’re hilarious, but difficult to understand!

If you’re looking to celebrate Carnaval in Spain, there are two places you should go to: Cádiz or the Canary Islands, specifically Tenerife. Both places are where the parties are the biggest! I would recommend booking early, because most people in Spain will plan this trip one year ahead of time! If you are in Cádiz, look out for some of the famous chirigotas, who perform all night for the crowd.

Take a look at Cassandra’s blog The Quirky Pineapple by clicking here!
You can also find The Quirky Pineapple on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Nothing Hill Carnival, London (Bryony – Travelsandmore)
An annual affair that attracts the masses like no other FREE event in the UK or Europe. Notting Hill Carnival has been transforming the streets of West London since the late sixties with no sign of ever stopping due to ever increasing popularity. The August bank holiday weekend is a prominent date in any Londoners event diary – Notting Hill Carnival is not a weekend you want to miss.

Over a million attendees each year fill the packed streets of Notting Hill. Locals and tourists alike flock to the capital, making Notting Hill Carnival one of the world’s largest street festivals! The Sunday/Monday celebrations bring a vibe and atmosphere of togetherness like no other to the warm and colourful streets of the famous Notting Hill borough of London. Families, friends, young and old all come together in the streets to join as one for the festivities.

The British West Indian community take pride in organising and orchestrating this large scale celebration of Caribbean culture, music, cuisine and community. A culture that helps define London as a proud capital of multi-culture and diversity. From glitter and sequin head dresses to curried goat and cans of Red Stripe Notting Hill Carnival ignites fusion fun across the streets of Notting Hill, Kensington and Chelsea.

The parade takes pride of place each year and each float is filled with another influence and sound from the Caribbean cultures of London. The legendary sound systems fill the air with a hum and buzz of dancehall and reggae classics. In most cases you can feel the bass before you can even see the sound systems. The sounds of Aba Shanti-I, Channel One and Toddla T are seasoned regulars at Notting Hill’s Carnival weekender. Is there another warm weekend in London that brings so many people together on the streets of one of London’s most affluent areas? I can’t think of a single one.

From the second you step foot off the tube and are greeted by a wall of music, sugar cane and smells of barbequing jerk you are swept up in a world of Jamaican inspirations and Carnival feel good vibes – the party continues into the night and several legendary after parties born from Carnivals non-stop feeling have sprouted up across London. Arrive early, the party starts at around 9am and the streets fill up quickly with Carnival goers, volunteers and police officers. Bring enough cash to savour some of the delicious flavours of fried plantain and every variation of jerk and dumplings you can imagine.

Steel drums, traditional jewelled Carnival costumes and dancing can be found on every corner of Notting Hill and whilst most of the area’s business are shut down over the weekend its almost hard to notice. Jungle, Dub, Ska and more all feature on the Carnival playlist, Notting Hill is as much a celebration of British culture as it is Caribbean and surely not to be missed.

Take a look at Bryony’s blog Travelsandmore by clicking here!
You can also find Travelsandmore on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Carnival flickr
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Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife (author Daphne – Girlswanderlust)
It is amazing to celebrate Carnival in Tenerife. Usually the carnival is around February and the best place to celebrate carnival is in the capital; Santa Cruz. The celebration of carnival in Santa Cruz is the second biggest in the world. Only carnival in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is more known for its celebration. Next to Santa Cruz, you can also celebrate carnival very good in Puerto de la Cruz. The parades are fantastic and there are many street parties. When you visit the centre in the evening, you will find  live music and people dancing everywhere. The atmosphere is fantastic. Next to the dressing up, the carnival in Tenerife has some special traditions like:

  • The men have to dress up like woman. Yes, you read it correctly. Most of the men will dress up like woman and will borrow their wife’s clothes and shoes.
  • There are funny organised events like heel running for men.
  • On ash wednesday, the ‘burial of the sardine’ will take place. On the beach (at the old harbour of Puerto de la Cruz) is a big papier maché sardine. During the night, this will be burned and ends with fireworks.
  • The ‘gran cosa apoteosis’ (closing parade of Carnival) is very funny to attend. During the parade, huevos tacos (which are eggshell and cloth balls held together by paste) are thrown onto the passing parade from windows and balconies.

Have you ever celebrated Carnival before in any of these destinations or another? Or are you going to celebrate it this year for the first time? Enjoy your time!

Author: Tamara

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