Sometimes referred to as “the world’s biggest party,” Carnival is celebrated in dozens of different countries around the globe. Each celebration is tailored to fit the culture of the local community. For example, in Brazil, a popular Carnival destination, the celebrations incorporate Afro-Caribbean traditions.

For some revelers, Carnival is closely tied to the Christian Easter holiday. For others, it’s a purely secular experience. With millions of people participating in Carnival events each year, there’s likely one that’s just your style. How in the world will you find which Carnival celebration is best for you? Take a look.

A child is dwarfed by stilt-wearing performers at a Carnival parade
A child is dwarfed by stilt-wearing performers at a Carnival parade. Emmanuelle Sawit, Philippines, 2020
a women wears a nun inspired costume
A Carnival-goer in an elaborate nun-inspired costume celebrates in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square. Marylise Vigneau, Italy, 2018
three dancers in costume stand in a parade
Performers prepare to entertain the crowds. Rafael Ruiz Fuente, Spain, 2020
a women in golden and black headdress
For many, Carnival is considered a pre-Lent celebration. It is a time of revelry before some believers begin fasting in preparation for Easter. Paulo Bortolini, Brazil, 2012
a man wearing a red costume
The origins of Carnival are somewhat disputed. Some believe it’s secular; others claim it’s religious. For others, it’s simply an excuse to dress up and have fun. Amanda Suzanne Vernisse Bouchenoire, Germany, 2019
a women in an orange headdress surrounded by bubbles
A member of an award-winning dance troupe performs during Carnival in San Francisco. Susan Katz, California, 2023
A large headdress depicts a colorful bird with its feathers on full display
A large headdress depicts a colorful bird with its feathers on full display. Silvia Ledezma, Mexico, 2022
masked revealers dance
Glistening masks. Top hats. Umbrellas. Balloons. It must be Carnival. Silvia Ledezma, Mexico, 2022
a close up of a women wearing a masking
Blue eyes peep out from the mask of a celebrant on Mardi Gras, traditionally the final day of Carnival. Christie Henson, Arkansas, 2010
a person in a red headdress
Mustached and eye-lashed, a Carnival-goer spreads a message of love. Ángel Baute García, Spain, 2023
a masked Carnival attendee
During Carnival in Venice, masked models are in abundance, many ready for the perfect Instagram moment. Carey Schneider, Italy, 2023
a blurred image of a dancer in a colorful costume
A rotating camera at low speed creates a dizzying, blurred effect—not unlike the sometimes intoxicating experience of Carnival. Luisa Lynch, Spain, 2023
costumed people stand on an arched bridge
Carnival revelers in elaborate costumes and eerie pale masks stand atop a bridge above a Venice waterway. Carey Schneider, Italy, 2023
A woman wears a bright colorful headdress
Bright, colorful feathers accent a headdress worn at a Carnival celebration in Rio De Janeiro. Debbie Picknell, Brazil, 2008

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