Carnival season its in the peak and many of us prepare to travel to some of them. We made a list of some less known carnivals in Europe.
Dunkirk carnival, France
Started in the 17th century as a feast to honour local fishermen, Dunkirk’s is now one of the biggest – and longest-lasting – parties in France; kicking off in January with weekly grand balls. Festivities reach a peak the three days before Ash Wednesday known as Les Trois Joyeuses with costumed bands and parades and, on the Sunday, a unique local twist involving 450kg of herring. So avoid the town hall if you don’t want to get pelted with fish.
Date – 25-27 February
Piedmont carnival, Italy
Italy’s biggest food fight takes place in the town of Ivrea, and involves oranges – lots of them. They are the weapon of choice in a re-enactment of a battle that took place between locals and Napoleonic troops in the early 19th century. The citrussy tussle is followed by a parade of floats and music groups.
Date – 26 february
Perhaps surprising for a country with a reputation for being orderly, but Switzerland loves a carnival – and Basel is it biggest, attracting around 500,000 visitors a year. Mind you, the festivities kick-off early – and promptly – at 4am with the Morgenstreich (morning stroke) when all lights are switched off and about 200 ensembles start making their way through the city centre, lit by hand-painted lanterns. It’s followed by three-days of marching bands, and costumed paraders throwing sweets and confetti at the crowds.
Date – 6-9 March
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, is the second most popular and internationally known celebration after Brazil’s. Partying kicks off on the Wednesday before the main event, when the election of the Queen of the Carnival takes place. Candidates are dressed in lavish and incredible costumes that weigh anything from 150 to 200 kilos. The theme for the costumes changes every year, with 2014’s “cartoon” dress code ensuring entries will be as animated as ever. For the entire week the people of Tenerife party to the rhythm of a lively Latin soundtrack, with performances by renowned artists such as Celia Cruz adding to the festive atmosphere. True to Catholic form, the festivities end on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.
Date – 28 February
Celebrations are heavily influenced by the Venetian Carnival, with masks an important part of the carnival costumes. The festival lasts for two long weeks, until Mardi Gras, translating as “Fat Tuesday” in French. In keeping with the Catholic traditions, revelers eat rich, fatty foods in copious amounts before abstinence begins the next day. Several street parades are held during the celebration, one of the most popular being the Battle of Flowers; floats brimming with bouquets make their way through the capital of the Cote D’azur. Spectators are encouraged to grab and throw the colourful blooms, adding to the vibrancy of the celebrations.
Another popular parade takes place at nighttime, with all of the floats decorated to represent different subjects relevant to modern society. 2014’s tasteful topic is “cuisine”, which will be sure to have revellers in the mood for some gastronomic over-indulgence.
Date – February
Strumica , Macedonia
The Strumica Carnival is first mentioned in 1670. This Carnival is held every year at the beginning of the Great Lent, an Eastern Orthodox Lenten period similar to the Roman church’s calendar about one month earlier. The three days which are called the “trimer days” always begin on the Sunday night at Procka (Forgiveness Sunday) and last until the following Wednesday.
Carnival takes place- masked groups of people stroll throughout the city, with men visiting homes of their fiancees and staying there until the early morning hours. The celebration continues with love songs and lyrics complemented with traditional musical instruments. Nowadays, the Carnival resembles similar Mardi Gras carnivals throughout the world and has a competitive character. Participants create their own masks. Each participant and group decides upon a theme and idea.
Masks should be up to 3.5 m high and the vehicles up to 12 m long. This large event encompasses hundreds of masked people on the streets of the city as well as thousands from other cities in Macedonia and from abroad. The sponsor of this event is the mayor of Strumica. Since 1994, Strumica is a member of the International Association of Carnival Cities, FECC.
Last few years Strumica carnival is in Saturday day before Procka