When people think carnival they think Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, however Europe has a lot of fun festivals celebrating carnival during this time including masked balls, torch lit ghost parades, fancy dress street parties, orange fights and lots more.
Cologne Carnival & Blankenheim Torch Lit Ghost Parade (Thurs 20th-Tues 24th February)
Cologne Carnival is a time and place where if you are not dressed as an animal, clown or grown baby you will feel like a weirdo. Everyone takes to the streets, drinking, singing songs and generally just having fun. The activities start off Thursday morning at 11.11am so you want to fly in the Wednesday evening. Saturday we recommend putting your best white sheet on and heading by train to Blankenheim for Geisterzug for a torch lit ghost parade in a medieval town! You will need your discipline as accommodation options are slim so last train back is essential.
There is also a parade celebrating Rose Monday but we recommend flying out Wednesday evening 19th- Sunday 23rd Feb. Direct Return flights from £80-180.
Ivrea Carnival, Battle of the Oranges
Ivrea Carnival, Battle of the Oranges (Sat 22nd- Tues 25th February)
Ivrea is Brexit but with oranges and traditional dress. The people vs the establishment with horse drawn carts having a massive orange fight around the town. You can watch in safety and enjoy watching people being hit. You are not supposed to join in but people do. It is a lot of fun.
Accommodation is scarce in Ivrea, we recommend staying in Turin and catching the train down for both the Saturday Night evening activities as well as the fun fight on the Sunday. It goes for a few more days after this.
Flights Turin return under £80 flying out Saturday morning and coming back Monday evening.
Carnival of Venice
Venice Carnival (8th-25th February)
Masked balls in Europe's most romantic city. Carnival here will take you back to a different era while you enjoy socialising behind the mystique of a masked face. Venice's Carnival originates in 1162, when the towns people celebrated a victory over the Patriarch of Aquileia. Weekend flights from under £100
Best done with a tour operator to get access to a masked ball.
Sitges Carnival, Barcelona
Sitges Carnival (18-26th February)
Sitges celebrates carnival in style, attracting around 250,000 people to the many shows, parades and parties that take place in this beautiful seaside town a short distance from Barcelona. The carnival is popular with both families and the LGBT communtity. Lots of fun provided you can handle the hangover after. Weekend flights under £70
Nice Carnival (15th-29th February)
Nice Carnival is more of a family fun carnival with spectacular and audacious parades taking place in the beautiful surrounding of Nice and the the Côte d'Azur. Weekend flights from around £90.
Updated: 2:30pm on 25th January 2020
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Written by: Jeremy Cogdon
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