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The World's Most Popular Carnival Celebrations

On a global scale, New Orleans hosts what is probably the most well-known Mardi Gras, over two weeks in the lead up to Shrove Tuesday itself. Social clubs known as krewes organise parades of floats and performers; the largest and most elaborate parades traditionally take place during the last five days of the carnival. The Carnival of Venice takes place during the two weeks leading up to Shrove Tuesday itself, and the undisputed highlight of the carnival is the wearing of elaborate masks.

More than samba schools take part in two days of samba parades, while at the same time you will find street festivals and parties all over the city.

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New Orleans may be the best known Mardi Gras in the United States, but Mobile in Alabama has the distinction of being the oldest, dating back to Along with a series of masked balls, public parades form the backbone of the celebrations. As well as the traditional bead necklaces thrown to parade watchers at other Mardi Gras parades, you may also find yourself the recipient of a Moon Pie, an individually-wrapped, chocolate-covered, marshmallow-filled cake.

The city of Nice has held a Carnival in the lead-up to Lent since at least , giving it a long and colourful history which today attracts more than a million visitors. Every year on Shrove Tuesday in the small town of Binche, up to a thousand curiously-attired local men known Gilles appear in the streets to take part in the annual festival. They are armed with sticks and dance to the sound of the drums before marching through the streets with baskets of oranges that are flung to, or at, people watching their procession.

If you happen to catch one, hold onto it as a good luck charm: it is considered an insult to return fire. These two tiny islands of the northern coast of Venezuela spend the two days leading up to Ash Wednesday the start of Lent in a colourful, music-filled celebration of their culture. Dressed in elaborate costumes, various Calypso bands compete against one another for the honour of being named Calypso Monarch. As well as the traditional Mardi Gras parade which takes place every night during this period, complete with floats, performers and those beads, they also offer traditional Cajun food and weekly live pop concerts.

Sailor Dance Costume Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty Images

This celebration of inclusiveness in support of the LGBTQI community grew out of gay rights protests in the s and today attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over Australia and around the globe. In the mountain-circled Patras, they take their preparations seriously and start the party early on St. Known for its great number of events, Venice-inspired balls and parade-filled blowout on the last weekend, Patrino Karnavali rivals Trinidad in its participatory spirit. Select currency.

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YEP Belgium 2013: Carnaval de Binche

In the days and weeks leading up to the 40 self-denying days of Lent, cities and villages across the globe celebrate with abandon. An army of Gilles in Binche, Belgium. Splendid color in Goa, India.

Carnaval de Binche

Beads and birthday suits in New Orleans, US. All-night calypso rhythms in Trinidad. European sophistication at the Carnivale di Venezia, Italy. Cool down in Quebec City, Canada.

Electrifying excess in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Demon dancing at Oruro Carnival, Bolivia. Get Dionysian in Patras, Greece.