Where to Celebrate Carnival Outside of Brazil
When we read about the celebration of Carnival, the party seems to be in Brazil. But while Brazil's carnival attracts thousands of visitors from all over the globe—and it is the most famous holiday in the country—it is not the only notable celebration of its kind.
It is a festival that embodies the soul of the Caribbean, and every nation has their own party centered on their culture. Carnival is tied to religious conversion, cultural heritage, and a massive parade that brings everyone out in jubilant celebration. It is one of the most epic parties you will ever see in your lifetime.
If you cannot make it to Brazil then we have several other Caribbean countries with carnival celebrations to enjoy throughout the year.
Dates: February 26-March 1
If you are interested in visiting a Caribbean island with some French flare, the gorgeous island of Martinique should definitely be on your travel bucket list.
The height of the party comes on Fat Sunday as a day of festive parades with costumed dancers moving to the beat of the music. The Red Devils Day, following Fat Tuesday the following week, involves a dance that goes until sundown when their elders take over in a celebration that may seem like Carnival’s climax. Ash Wednesday marks a day of celebrations with the smell of local rum filling the streets.
Dates: February 26-28
The Dutch island of Curacao has been experiencing more and more visitors over the last couple of years. Located right off the coast of Latin America with countries like Colombia and Venezuela nearby, Curacao is a true gem hidden away in the Caribbean. Every February the whole island erupts into one big party with a variety of parades and festivals through the neighborhoods of Banda Abou and Willemstad.
Curacao is a great choice if you’re looking for a carnival that’s more family friendly with lots of dancing and activities for visitors of every age.
Trinidad and Tobago
Dates: February 27-28
The biggest party on Earth occurs every February in the humble island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. The country's carnival has a notorious reputation for being one of the wildest celebrations across the Caribbean that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year to high-energy parties known as fetes along with cultural events.
The carnival opens with J’ouvert that begins at 4 a.m. and the next days host nonstop events and parties leading to the big parade with the exhilarating sounds of soca, steelpan, and calypso music.
Dates: April 1-29
Every April, the entire island breaks out into a festive party with events all month long for people of every age. You start the events with J’ouvert and eat delicious traditional Caribbean cuisine that culminates in the final week of April with a massive parade that takes over the streets.
Dates: April 29-May 6
Come down to the famous Seven Mile Beach to celebrate, Batabano, the Cayman Islands’ National Carnival held every May. The Cayman Islands are picturesque at any time of the year but nothing beats the energy you fill during carnival season.
The event is split between the more family oriented Junior Batabano events for children and the Adult Batabano when the main parties occur. During the week, the visitors can expect to come out to a party in the streets every day featuring local artists and visiting bands.
Antigua and Barbuda
Dates: July 28-August 8
Every year for 10 days the island of Antigua breaks into a colorful celebration in honor of carnival, also known as Caribana. The celebration celebrates the emancipation of the slave trade.
At the end of July, the locals and visitors are consumed by an energetic series of festivities starting with J’ouvert that includes steel bands to perform for everyone. If you’re ready for nonstop food fairs, local concerts, and cultural shows you won’t want to miss this party.
Dates: August 3-8
Besides being home to one of the most celebrated singers right now (Hi, Rihanna!), the island nation of Barbados is home to one of the largest and wildest parties across the Caribbean. While the rest of the world knows it as carnival, it’s called Cropover leading to the Kadooment parade for locals.
The Bridgetown Market turns into a street party with savory Caribbean cuisine with live entertainment to keep the energy up with calypso music. Barbados’ carnival is uniquely different from the rest because it is to celebrate the ending the local sugar cane harvest.