The Sound of Carnival

Image by Stefan Insam

Clashing with Valentine’s Day this year, comes another holiday season that is celebrated in many parts of the world – Carnival!

Carnival is celebrated typically immediately before Lent with parades, festivities, and parties, combining elements of a circus with a masked ball and celebrations in the streets. Most of the times, the carnival season falls into the month of February, and people dress up and celebrate this larger than life festival despite the oftentimed freezing temperatures.

Carnival around the World


Carnival has been introduced to Africa mostly through the Catholic Portuguese settlers, and many groups from all over the world visit Africa to partake in the festivities. The Harare international Carnival in Zimbabwe became the biggest street festival in all of South Africa and is held in late May.


The Portuguese are said to bring the carnival festival to the Indian state Goa, and it is celebrated for three days and three nights in a row. The better known Indian carnival though is the ancient Hindu Holi festival, which customs of celebrating love and life by spraying colors on each other have spread to parts of Europe and North America as well.


Despite the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, being the best known one, there are several other Central and South American countries that celebrate the festivities with equal passion; for example Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, or the Caribbeans. In the US, however, carnival is better known as Mardi Gras.


Europe can easily be called the main continent of carnival. Most countries have their own carnival celebrations and customs that fall into the colder months of the year. The most prominent ones are located in central Europe; namely in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands. Yet, celebrations in Greece, Croatia and Slovenia, or on Cyprus are equally big and lively.

Among the most famous festivities are the carnival or “Fasnacht” or “Fasching” season in southern Germany and Switzerland, and the carnival of Venice, Italy.

The sound of Carnival

No matter what country celebrates the carnival season, they have one thing in common: the celebration of love, life, and a time to be a little more crazy and free than during the rest of the year.

Especially the South and Central American carnival festivities are almost synonymous with hot Samba music and drumming rhythms.

In Europe, however, brass instruments like trumpets and trombones, together with deep and rhythmic march drums make out the more prominent musical background of Europen carnival.

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