Carnival is an annual festival celebrated in many different ways in many countries around the world. Some of the world's most famous carnivals are held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, New Orleans, USA, and Venice, Italy. Find out what happens in these and one other carnival you may not have heard of.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.


What's carnival all about?

Carnival is a festival that happens over a few days, usually just before Lent, in February or March. Because traditionally many people go on a fast during Lent, giving up meat, sugar or other foods and drink, carnival is an opportunity to enjoy these treats for the last time. It is a time to celebrate and party, with music and dancing in the streets. Some people believe that carnival is actually older than the Christian period of Lent, and that it started as the Roman festival of Saturnalia.

New Orleans

One of the most famous carnivals in the world is in New Orleans, USA. It is called Mardi Gras, which is French for 'Fat Tuesday', the day when people would traditionally eat up all the fat before starting the Lent fast. The celebration in New Orleans lasts around two weeks, with a parade every day. Groups of people, called 'krewes', dress up in special costumes and ride on decorated floats. They throw small gifts to the people watching, especially strings of beads. There are also many balls, especially masked balls. Mardi Gras is very popular with tourists, and it is estimated that well over a million people visit every year to join the celebrations.

Rio de Janeiro

The carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is considered the biggest in the world, with around two million people celebrating on the streets each day. Rio Carnival is famous for its samba music and for the amazing costumes and floats. In 1984, the government decided to give the carnival a special stadium, called the Sambadrome, where people could buy tickets to go and see the parades. However, there are still plenty of street parties and parades happening all over the city.

The parades are a kind of competition and the samba 'schools', or groups, are judged on their costumes, dancing, floats and music. Some samba schools spend millions of dollars on their preparations, but it is estimated that carnival makes over $40 million from ticket sales and advertising.


Carnival in Venice is a much quieter celebration, but it is still very famous, mainly for the beautiful masks that people wear. Traditionally, the masks are made and decorated by hand, with gold, jewels and feathers. There is a competition for the most beautiful mask, and there are many masked balls and other celebrations.

In St Mark's Square, there is an open-air theatre where you can watch traditional plays, and there are also classical music concerts. Because the streets are very narrow, there are candlelit parades on boats through the canals of the city. Watching all the people dressed in masks and costumes wandering through the city makes you feel as if you have stepped back in time to the 18th century.


The carnival in Binche, Belgium, is not as famous as some of the others, but it may have the longest history. It dates back to the 14th century. Up to 1,000 men and boys, called 'Gilles', dress up in masks, costumes and wooden shoes. They also wear very tall feather hats, up to 90cm tall. The Gilles dance through the streets and throw oranges at the crowd. This can sometimes cause accidents and break windows, but it is supposed to be good luck if you are hit by an orange.

All over the world, carnival is a time to celebrate and have a good time with friends and family. Have a great carnival, if you're celebrating this year!


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Submitted by uttambro on Sat, 11/02/2023 - 16:59


I would show my happiness and sadness at the same time.I would be happy on this kind of celebration for no such specific reason, but i would certainly feel bad for sentiment animals who get hurted knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, in the name of festivals, that come every week, every month, with a little joy among us, but with a lot of man-made issues for the environment.
We should be more happy on planting a tree than on such unnecessary stuffs.
Signing off:)

Submitted by meknini on Wed, 03/08/2022 - 05:30


I don't think we have that many carnivals around but the one that's annually carried out is the National Day parade which takes place on 31st August.

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Sat, 30/04/2022 - 12:24


Do you celebrate carnival in your country? What happens?

there is no such kind of festival in my country. no gathering and no celebration like this. I wish It will be a festival like in your country but it is impossible here.

Submitted by Thinthinmyoe on Sun, 27/06/2021 - 06:33

In our country, we have never celebrated these Carnivals.I'm so interested and excited knowing about carnivals through this article.
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Submitted by danisep on Thu, 18/02/2021 - 17:29

Yes, here there are some carnivals. Now I remember two, the most famous the Barranquilla carnival which lasts four days in February and gather near than 2 million people between tourist and locals. the other carnival is The carnival de Negros y Blancos it is celebrated in January in Pasto city and it lasts a week.

Submitted by PARIMALA MADIAZHAKAN on Wed, 17/02/2021 - 13:38

HI. I am from Malaysia. As a Malaysians we celebrate our National Day as a carnival. Some, especially people from East Malaysia, argue that it is illogical to celebrate 31 August 1957 as Malaysia's national day when Malaysia was only established in 1963, before that there was no Malaysia. The National Day we celebrate bring more happiness among Malaysians. Every National Day Malaysians celebrate as a carnival with different cultures and races. In some venues and in Kuala Lumpur, a human graphic display is also being readied, and members of Soka Gakkai Malaysia, by then now formed on the parade grounds or on the streets, prepares its field presentation by forming the Flag of Malaysia on the parade square. An instrumental ensemble of Malaysian ethnic percussion also readies their performances much later.

Submitted by Rosette on Tue, 09/06/2020 - 23:26

Yes, I celebrate Carnaval in Guadeloupe It begins before Lent in Februry until March during the week-end. It is called Mardi Gras, like carnaval in New Orleans It's a great and beautiful festival. People dress amazing costumes. They sing and dance in the street. There are severals groups that made parades and floats decorated. Every year, a lot of tourist visit Guadeloupe to join the celebrations
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Sat, 30/05/2020 - 00:48

Yes. We celebrate it. It's just celebration gallo all around.

Submitted by Jonathan Stevens on Mon, 24/02/2020 - 02:34

Here in Colombia we celebrate many types of carnivals. Now, for a example we celebrate in the North, Barranquilla's Carnival. It's a famous parade with a lot of typical dance schools. Each region in our country has a carnival. Every month is a new party to show the cultural identity.
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Submitted by Cheick Sadibou on Sun, 23/02/2020 - 13:45

Unfortunately, we don't celebrate that feast in my country cause the dominant religion here is Islam. But before reading this article i heard about it and i used to see some parades on The TV, especially in the news during the carnival ceremonies. It seems to be an astronomical event.