Denmark, France & Germany are celebrating carnival season

When it comes to celebrating carnival, it could be argued that nobody does it quite like Brazil. But other countries throw some pretty good parties too. Today we look at how other countries around the world mark the celebrations.

Shout “Helau!” and “Alaaf!” in Germany

When it comes to celebrating in Germany, Cologne and Mainz are the bastions of carnival. Traditional cries of “Helau!” and “Alaaf!” echo around packed streets full of merry party-goers in fancy dress. Last year, we compiled a handy ABC guide with lots of fun facts about celebrating carnival in Germany. This year we’re broadening our horizons and looking at where else the season is celebrated.

Make like a movie star in Notting Hill

Ever since the movie hit our screens in 1999, everyone’s heard of Notting Hill in London. But did you know that Notting Hill is also home to the United Kingdom’s largest annual carnival? Every year at the end of August some 1.5 million people flock to the capital to celebrate. The carnival is heavily influenced by the city’s African-Caribbean population and is one of the biggest in Europe.

A week of celebrations in Aalborg

Fans of Scandinavia will know Aalborg as Denmark’s third largest city. It’s renowned for Aquavit, a distilled spirit made from caraway seed. As its northerly location means February is far too cold for any kind of open-air celebrations Aalborg’s carnival takes place in May. The Danes don’t do things by halves either. The celebrations last for a whole week with some 100,000 guests arriving to join in.

Drink until you drop in Moscow

Moscow celebrates “Maslenitsa” or “Butter Week” in March – a tradition dating back to the 16th century when no meat was consumed during Orthodox Lent, but butter and milk were still allowed. There’s a huge fair and a parade through Manezhnaya Square, which is overlooked by the Kremlin. Clubs and bars open late to accommodate the revellers. The Russian motto is “drink until you’re hoarse, sing until you lose your voice and dance until you drop!” On that note – nostrovia!

Get showered with petals in Nice

The French celebrate the carnival season in a number of cities. However, with over a million spectators the parade through Nice has to be the highlight. So-called “petal princesses” ride on floats and throw around twenty tonne of confetti and 100,000 flowers into the crowds, including mimosas, roses and daffodils. Celebrations culminate on “Mardi Gras” or “fat Tuesday” when everyone tucks into traditional French crêpes to use up their eggs before Lent begins.

Soak up world heritage in Binche

There’s a carnival in Belgium? There certainly is! In fact, the city of Binche celebrates twice – once during Lent and once afterwards. In 2003, UNESCO even proclaimed the traditional festivities a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible heritage of Humanity”. At the centrepiece of the proceedings are “Gilles” – clown-like performers in bright costumes with wax masks, green glasses and wooden shoes. They dance to the sound of drums and throw oranges to spectators. Possibly to ward off any coughs or colds after the party has ended?

Where are you heading to celebrate?