TOP CARNIVAL PARTIES IN EUROPE
From being pelted by oranges to wearing an elaborate Venetian mask; and from waking at 4 am to watch a parade to celebrating a medieval murder — Europeans know how to party during Carnival.
February is Carnival season in Europe. What could be a better way to warm up the cold winter weather and lighten the spirits than by having a crazy party? In spite of the weather, people head out to the streets to have some fun and create that special, once-a-year Carnival atmosphere. Switzerland, Italy and Belgium play host to four of the best Carnival parties in Europe.
Fasnacht – Basel, Switzerland (Feb 27 – 29, 2012)
Fasnacht is the largest event in Switzerland, and has been named one of the top 50 best celebrations in the world. The Carnival starts at 4 a.m. on the Monday after Ash Wednesday, and gives everyone permission to let their hair down and go a little crazy.
If you get up early and wait outside on the street on the day of Carnival, you will hear the sound of drumming in the distance, slowly getting closer, until you see a parade of some 20,000 participants in charivari costumes and large masks with headlights moving towards you. This is the start of three days of continuous partying. Be prepared to find confetti in your hair and clothes for months afterward.
Orange Throwing Festival – Ivrea, Italy (Feb 18 – 21, 2012)
Ivrea Carnival is a celebration of liberty from a tyrannical Baron. When a girl head chopped off his head, the people were roused into action, to revolt and fight for their freedom.
This colorful festival starts like any other, but it ends with a crazy twist: a massive orange throwing fight. If you don’t want to participate in the fight (no, your travel insurance probably won’t cover it), then the only way to stay safe is by wearing a red hat.
Venice Carnival – Venice, Italy (Feb 11-21, 2012)
The Venice Carnival is world famous for a reason: an intoxicating combination of incredible costumes, masked balls and the medieval atmosphere of the fabled city of canals. The streets are crowded with people wearing elaborate, Rococo costumes, sweeping dresses, curly white wigs and of course the traditional Venetian masks. Some people even dress up their pets!
Walking along the narrow cobbled streets, crossing ancient bridges and being swept up by the festivities — you will think you have stepped into the storied past.
There’s so much to do and see during Venice Carnival. You can pay a visit to the Venetian mask makers, vote for their best creations in a contest or dress up and attend the masked balls. Masked balls are a Carnival highlight, and an important part of Venice’s history that date back to the 13th century.
Binche Carnival – Binche, Belgium (Feb 19-21, 2012)
A UNESCO World Heritage event in a UNESCO World Heritage city – it doesn’t get any better than this for those who want both a wild party and a generous helping of history and culture thrown in to the mix.
The highlight of the Carnival in Binche is the parade of the Gilles, clown-like performers wearing wooden footwear. About 1,000 Gilles dance throughout the city from morning to evening to traditional music, pelting oranges at spectators – so watch out! Local men see it as a big honor to be chosen as a Gille.
These are just a few of the Carnivals held in Europe this month. Will you be visiting any? Tell us on T+E!