By Maria Pedone
February 27, 2014

Carnival—the final soiree before Lent when people fast, avoid indulgences, and refrain from partying—culminates over the next week with vibrant costumes, wild dancing, and self-expression, found worldwide this year until March 4th. For many, Carnival is a fun way to let go, whether you're family road-tripping to Louisiana or a couple jet-setting to Italy. In case you don't have a chance to join in the revelry, here are a few colorful Carnival-inspired experience that caught our eye:


Just steps from St. Mark’s Square, the historic Luna Hotel Baglioni (above and below) will be prepping its guests for festive balls with private costume fittings—including embellished masks and cloaks—by Atelier Flavia. Traditional gowns will grace the ballroom floor during the hotel’s Grand Baglioni Party this Friday, February 28, and the Gran Carnivale Party on Saturday, March 1, where guests can sit back and enjoy the “Dance & Opera Show,” or join in on the display themselves. Housed in a Venetian palace, the hotel's stately ties to the past reach from its proximity to Piazza San Marco—where celebrations first began during the Middle Ages in 1162—to inside the Marco Polo Ballroom, where original fresco paintings of the XVIII Century of the School of Tiepolo adorn the walls.

Baton Rouge, LA

New Orleans may get all the fame, but Baton Rouge boasts the appeal of a slightly smaller crowd that’s just as lively. There's fun for everyone—even families. The Young Chef Academy is hosting a King Cake Workshop for children ages three and up this Friday, Feb. 28 and Monday, March 3. Adults are welcome to help, or you can watch as your little prince or princess builds this traditional dessert from scratch.

Salvador, Brazil

Wallflowers be weary: Afro-Brazilian music and dance overtake this city during the weeks of Carnaval. Choose to join a bloco to take in the sounds by way of parade float, or sway for free on the sidelines in what’s known as a pipoca.

Lucerne, Switzerland

Carnival, or Fasnacht, as they call it in Switzerland, is a treat for the masked eyes and classical-music-inclined ears. Improvised bands stomp through the streets of Lucerne, resting their brass and percussion instruments along the way to act out scenes and socialize with spectators. You can expect more noise than cohesion from the impromptu groups, but it’s a must-see affair all the same.

Maria Pedone is a Digital Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.