Although the Carnival festivities have been cancelled, postponed indefinitely or significantly scaled-down this year as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps ravaging the world, February remains a time to indulge and celebrate the exuberance of life before the commencement of Lent. 

From the sumptuous ice sculptures of Québec City to the buzzing streets of Rio de Janeiro, this curated list of exceptional Carnival celebrations across the globe will inspire you to keep the season’s spirit alive even in these troubled times. 

Québec City, Canada

Québec City invites you to enter the ultimate Winter Wonderland with its one-of-a-kind  Carnival. From late January to mid-February the “Old Capital” turns into an enchanting ice kingdom, where night parades, dog sled races and outdoor parties will make you embrace the extreme cold and forget about summer for a while.    

Keep yourself warm with a glass of Caribou, an alcoholic drink made of red wine, brandy and maple syrup traditionally served during the Festival. 

Venice, Italy

Venice welcomes you to the most sophisticated Carnival in Europe. For about two weeks the city transforms into an open-air museum, where elegant costumes, traditional masks and a sensational water show on its canals combine to take you back to the eighteenth century.

Don’t miss the chance to witness the Volo dell’Angelo (Flight of the Angel), the event which marks the beginning of the Festival. Be ready to hold your breath as a beautiful Venetian girl will fly by zip line over your head while descending from the bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica. 

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago host the most spectacular pre-Lenten festival in the Caribbean. With its unique blend of flashy costumes, street performances and cheerful parades this annual event is described as the “Mother of all West Indian style Carnivals”. 

Set your alarm for 3:00 am and join the locals at the “J’Ouvert”, the early-morning party held in the streets of Port of Spain; hours of pure enjoyment and wild dancing to the beats of Soca and Calypso await you. 

New Orleans, USA

A time of decadence and debauchery before Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras represents the grand finale of Carnival season in New Orleans. Extravagant costumes, lavish floats and joyful parades take over the Crescent City while approximately 1.4 million visitors celebrate a last day of excess. 

Soak up the festive atmosphere in the French Quarter, indulge in Creole and Cajun culinary delights and fit in with the crowd by wearing the iconic colours of the event, respectively purple, green and gold. 

 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The “Greatest Show on Earth”, Rio’s Carnival attracts millions of revellers every year with its flamboyant costumes, memorable street parties and irresistible Samba rhythms. The event starts on the Friday before Lent and ends on Ash Wednesday, ensuring the visitors six days of fun, entertainment and true immersion into Brazilian culture. 

Let yourself be swept away by the carioca joie de vivre and book your spot at the Sambódromo on Sunday and Monday when the city’s best Samba schools contend for the title of Grand Champion.