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Top 5 alternative European carnivals in 2014

24th February 2014 Print
Crazy Days

It’s that time of year again; Carnival season is underway, promising raucous parties, fantastic food and loud laughter – not to mention a questionable costume or two. 2014 isn’t the year to stand squashed amongst the crowds in Notting Hill but rather the year to enjoy the carnivals that were a secret to you until now. With that in mind, has come up with five of the best alternatives for that carnival atmosphere in Europe.

The Crazy Days, Cologne, Germany: 11 November 2013 – 5 March 2014

Possibly the most appropriate name for the carnival period, Crazy Days celebrations start on Shrove Thursday with parties on the streets, in public spaces and in pubs (there are no closing times during the festival).

The street carnival begins with the Women’s Carnival (Weiberfastnacht) where local ladies dress up in their best costumes and cut off the ties of any man silly enough to come near them, but The Rose Monday (Rosenmontag) parade is the highlight of the German Carnival season, taking place the Monday before Ash Wednesday. For 2014, 3 March is the date to keep free for the parade. The 6.5km long procession prides itself on its fancy dress outfits; the brighter the better! If that isn’t enough to tempt you, 140 tonnes of sweets (Kamelle), 700,000 bars of chocolates and 300,000 bunches of flowers (Strüßjer) are thrown to the crowds to enjoy. Fun fancy dress outfits, flowers and chocolates: What’s not to love?

Flights to Cologne start from just £157 per person

Karneval, Rijeka, Croatia: 17 January 2014 - 5 March 2014

Don’t forget your mask on a visit to the Carnival Capital of Croatia to experience a truly Croatian celebration! The mayor of Rijeka hands the keys of the city to the Carnival Master of Ceremonies, thus signifying the handover of the town to ‘the masks’.  Rijeka’s parade performers don masks and ward off evil spirits.  An effigy is burnt to symbolise the burning of negative energy and a move towards a healthy, new beginning.  The last Sunday before Ash Wednesday (2 March), the town plays host to the International Carnival Parade with crowds of approximately 100,000.

Flights to Split start from just £257 per person

Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival, Canary Islands: 28 Feb – 9 March 2014

Whilst carnivals are held in all seven Canary Islands during this time of year, the Santa Cruz de Tenerife remains the finest and the most “Brazilian” in its nature. The selection of the Carnival Queen, held on 26 February, sees beautiful candidates parade their extravagant costumes for a chance to win the ultimate award. The carnival kicks off on 28 February with the opening parade and what follows is a busy schedule of colour, creativity and pizazz. Street dances, firework displays and music all feature heavily until the closing day.

The Children’s Carnival officially takes place from 1 - 9 March at the Parque García Sanabria. The theme of this year’s carnival is cartoons; perfect for children (and youthful adults!)  as they’ll interact with a host of villainous and heroic cartoon characters along the route.

Return flights to Tenerife start from just £134 per person

Entierro de la Sardina, Spain: 26 April 2014

A funeral for a fish is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of carnival, but that’s exactly what happens in towns and cities across Spain.

Celebrations in Spain kick off in the same colourful and vibrant fashion that is seen in carnivals all over the world, but this celebration ends with the Entierro de la Sardina (Burial of the Sardine) ceremony to mark the end of carnival on Ash Wednesday. 

Thirty or so "sardinero" groups make up the enjoyable "Entierro de la Sardina" parade, livening up the city with street entertainment on the days before the parade. The night before, the Testament of Lady Sardine is read from the balcony of the town hall, taking a humorous look at current political and social issues. The “funeral” involves a procession complete with mourners dressed in black parading a model sardine in a coffin around the streets before it is finally set alight symbolising rebirth and regeneration.

In Murcia, this event stands out for certain characteristics that make it highly original, for one thing the celebrations are held after the Easter celebrations - right at the end of the following week. The festivities date back to 1850, when a band of students decided to form an entourage presided over by a sardine, symbolising fasting and abstinence, to relive the fiesta celebrated at Carnival.

Flights to Murcia start from just £102 per person

Brazilica Festival, Liverpool, UK: 11 - 19 July 2014

Samba in the city at the UK’s only Brazilian Festival & Samba Carnival: Brazilica.

Set up by members of the Liverpool Samba School, the festival takes place right at the heart of Liverpool’s city centre, bringing an authentic taste of Brazil with food and drink concessions along the parade route. 

The week culminates with the Carnival and Parade Day on 19 July, providing nothing short of outrageous outfits and exciting energy with music and dances across the parade route.

More Photos - Click to Enlarge

Crazy Days