When it comes to Carnival, the vibrant streets of Rio de Janeiro instantly come to mind. But Carnival is a festival season with rich history and geographic roots beyond the epic party in Brazil. Recently, searches on Shutterstock have soared for locales outside of Rio.
Carnival sees different traditions across the globe, but most festivals have something in common: their wildness. Taking place in the lead-up to Christian Lent, this period is often considered one of role-reversal, where revelers don costumes, dance enthusiastically, imbibe heavily, and enjoy foods that will soon be restricted during Lent.
We’re exploring the top 10 most popular Carnivals around the world, based on Shutterstock search data. Read on to learn about these celebrations, including new regions where global interest is growing, and the symbols and customs that define the festival season worldwide.
1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This is the largest Carnival in the world, usually attracting two million people to Rio de Janeiro. There are lots of familiar customs, like masks, costumes, and floats, but Rio also has the interesting tradition of samba school parades. Samba schools are groups of locals that attend Carnival together, wearing coordinated costumes and dancing choreographed numbers in the parade.