Fun Facts: Carnival Around the World

Today's post is written by Renata, our Portuguese language blog editor. To read the post in Portuguese, visit  Carnival ao redor do mundo

This weekend is the start of Carnival, one of the biggest annual festivals in the world. This Brazilian street party is celebrated the weekend before the beginning of Lent and ends on "Fat Tuesday", the day before the beginning of Lent.

carnival in brazil

If you can't make it to Brazil, there are plenty of other festivals throughout the year that match the Carnival spirit. Find out how the carnival is celebrated around the world, and if you are going to study abroad with Kaplan, make sure you visit one of the parties below!


The Notting Hill Carnival takes place every year on London streets. If you will be studying English at Kaplan in London, take the opportunity  to experience this event, which has happened every August since 1965. The event attracts millions of people s every year and is famous for being one of the biggest street events in the world.

The event was brought to England from Trinidad, where the first Caribbean carnival was held in 1833. Before that, slaves were prohibited by law from engaging in any carnival in Europe or even meeting in the street in the evenings.

The first time in England that community organizer Rhaune Laslett decided to invite a steel band (a typical Trinidadian music style) to attend the Notting Hill Carnival was the first time that this type of band and music had been played on the streets of England. Rhaune Laslett’s idea was very appealing to the Caribbean residents, who previously felt very alienated from the community celebration.


If you are studying with Kaplan in England, Ireland or Scotland, you can take a quick plane ride and head to Venice, Italy, to check out one of the most (if not the most) famous mask parties in the world.

photo courtesy of IB Times

The Carnival of Venice, like Carnival in Brazil, ends on Fat Tuesday. The tradition began in the 11th century, and this year is the perfect chance to wear your masks and costumes.  Enjoy the carnival in the streets of beautiful Venice and take many photos... but do not forget your mask!


The Winter Carnival in Quebec is fun and full of food and activities. Carnival is celebrated from the first day of February and goes on for 16 days. The party is the largest winter celebration in the world and the third largest carnival after Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans.

The shows at night are the most colourful part of the Carnival, with floats full of fantastic music bands and many clowns. Even if it is very cold - usually -6C, – everyone hits the streets for the festivities. The canoe race is the most famous tradition in Quebec,. Do not miss it if you are studying with Kaplan in Toronto or Vancouver.

New Orleans, USA

The Mardi Gras celebration has a lot of European influence of the Middle Ages, and it was brought to Louisiana by the French around 1699. The celebration is one of the most famous street parties in the world, known for its plaster masks, costumes and bands, It starts on "Fat Tuesday", or 41 days before Easter, – which is Mardi Gras in French.

The typical colors of Mardi Gras are gold, meaning power; green, meaning faith; and purple, which stands for justice. Other famous symbols of the event are the masks of tragedy, and fleur de lis necklaces. The tradition of nudity is also present at Mardi Gras in New Orleans and today it is famous for that.

Why don’t you enjoy a vacation, experience  a carnival and learn English at the same time? Kaplan offers many courses, including vacation English courses in all of our destinations. Find out more!

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