Santa Cruz Carnival, Tenerife, 6-17 February The Carnaval de Santa Cruz in Tenerife attracts half a million visitors to this Canary isle for a week-long event that goes down in a blaze of glory with a 24-hour party… and the burning of a massive papier-maché sardine

Santa Cruz Carnival, Tenerife, February The Carnaval de Santa Cruz in Tenerife attracts half a million visitors to this Canary isle for a week-long event that goes down in a blaze of glory with a party… and the burning of a massive papier-maché sardine

. Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, 8 Feb – 3 March Sydney's Mardi Gras started as a civil rights march in the 70s is now 35 years old and has grown into a massive month-long party attended by over half a million people. Celebrations closes with a parade involving over 8000 extravagantly-dressed participants.

Official website of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Get news about the 2018 Festival, annual Parade, Mardi Gras Party and Fair Day.

Notting Hill Carnival, London, 25-26 August London’s biggest party of the year isn’t anything to do with Lent. The absolutely massive Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of the capital’s Caribbean community. Two million people dance in the streets of west London, and eat loads of jerk chicken.

Photos: 2012 Notting Hill Carnival in London, England - New Haven Register Media Center

Trinidad Carnival, 11-12 February Steel bands, soca, limbo, calypso, and a whole lot of rum: the spirit of the Caribbean is celebrated with gusto on the tropical island of Trinidad, just off the coast of Venezuela. Apparently stickfighting is part of the fun as well, but visitors should stick (ha, ha) to shimmying along with the colourful costume band parades in Trinidadian capital Port of Spain.

Trinidad Carnival, Queens Park Savannah, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago

Rio Carnival, Brazil, 9-12 February Rio’s Carnaval is the biggest and most famous public party on the planet. The legendary samba spirit of Brazil is demonstrated best by the bandas – street parades led by drummers and singers – climaxing with the spectacular samba school showdown in the Sambodrome.

Carnival parade ( Nacho Doce/Reuters ) A reveller from the Vila Isabel samba school parades on the first night of the annual Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome.

New Orleans Mardi Gras, 12 February Also known as Shrove Tuesday, in French Mardi Gras means ‘Fat Tuesday’. While we go crazy before Lent by making pancakes, the people of New Orleans get drunk and dress up (or strip off) in a celebration of their Creole heritage.

A float is seen in the parade down St. Charles Avenue on Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans, Louisiana February (Sean Gardner/Reuters)

Carnival de Binche, Belgium, 10-12 February Clown-like performers known as Gilles, wearing weird wax masks and wielding sticks used to ward off spirits, parade through the town of Binche. Be warned that, as part of the fun, the Gilles chuck oranges at spectators, but you're not allowed to throw them back, which doesn't seem fair.

Carnival of Binche, The Gilles wearing their hat with ostrich feathers.

Viareggio Carnival, Italy, 3 February – 3 March Along with Venice, the Carnevale di Viareggio is one of Italy’s two big carnivals. This normally-not-quite-so-crazy Tuscan seaside resort hosts a million spectators who flock to see parades of giant papier-maché floats up to 20 metres high, from fire-breathing dragons to politicians.

A carnival with allegorical floats, masked pageants, fireworks and a flower show.

Venice Carnival, Italy, 1-14 February The Carnevale Venezia

Venice Carnival, Italy, February The Carnevale Venezia

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