Territorio Havaianas
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THE BEST CARNIVALS IN EUROPE + BRAZIL

One cannot grasp the essence of Brazil without understanding its carnival. One could say this celebration brings together then main elements of Brazilian culture and its idiosyncrasies in a flamboyant way. Feathered and sequined costumes, vivid colours, music and dancing to wild samba rhythms take over the streets for a whole week. So much so that Havaianas also decided to join in this wild invasion as the official sponsor of the São Paulo Carnival with its very own group, or bloco* in Portuguese!
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The Havaianas bloco*travelled on the city’s underground, taking it by storm with colour, loads of cheer and music. Passengers were invited to take part in this huge party in tube stations bedecked in Havaianas colours or by travelling in one of the 6 carriages customised to flip-flop rhythms during carnival week. Over a million people have been able to enjoy this new carnival experience on the São Paulo tube.

*Bloco: the groups that follows “trio elétricos” (music floats) dancing and backing these during the carnival parade.
 
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I don’t know about you, but that makes me somewhat envious. You too want to enjoy carnival but your budget won’t stretch enough for a trip to Brazil? Don’t worry, here’s the best of the top 5 European carnivals right here.

VENICE (ITALY) – secrecy behind a mask

If you are a fan of all things Baroque and Medieval, you will love the ample dresses of precious brocade, and if you fancy hiding behind a beautifully dreamlike mask, then the Venetian carnival is your best bet.
For 10 days during the month of February, the elegance and glamour of bygone days take over Venice’s main square, Piazza San Marco. It’s about seeing and being seen, with long walks through the streets or on gondolas on the city’s canals.  If you’re lucky, someone may invite you to one of the private parties held by the Venetian upper-class.
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NOTTING HILL (UK) -  colour of the west indies takes over London

It is held during the last week of the month of August. Although it is one of the most recent carnivals, it is now world renowned. Did you know it came about in response to problematic race relations and violent race riots back in the 60s? With its Caribbean influences, it is one of the European carnivals that most resembles the Brazilian one. Ok, there’s the distance and the fact that British culture is somewhat different to the Latin one, but the rhythm is certainly there!

SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE (SPAIN) – unbelievable outfits dance to the sound of satire

We just told you about Notting Hill’s Caribbean essence, which is equally present in the Canary Island’s main carnival, with its spectacular parades featuring floats and costumes that inundate the streets during the month of February. The Carnival Queens’ impressive outfits are a total mix of glamour and exuberance and are sometimes virtually impossible to wear due to their sheer weight and complex trimmings. Some even require wheels! The atmosphere is spiced up with a lot of humour and irony thanks to the comparsas and murgas (special kind of carnival music groups).
In this carnival, while the designers add the final stiches to create the most spectacular dresses for the Queen of Carnival, the musicians of the comparsas and murgas sharpen their pencils to achieve to most iconic lyrics, to provide a social commentary and criticism of the country’s news and current events.
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COLOGNE (GERMANY) – Germany without rules or boundaries

The party begins on the Alter Markt in the German city on the 11th day of the 11th month, at 11 o’clock. On the first day of Carnival, known as Weiberfastnacht, the women hold centre stage as they are presented with the keys of the city and as they are given free rein to kiss any man who crosses their path as well as cut his tie off.

The high point of the carnival is Rosenmontag (Rose Monday), when the streets are invested by huge crowds of disguised revellers that come to watch the parades and processions, whilst chanting the ‘fool’s call’: “Kölle Alaaf” (Hurray for Cologne! Cologne’s the best!). Literally 11 thousand people take over the city. This is event is so big in Germany that it is known as the year’s Fifth Season!

NICE (FRANCE) – where Spring comes early to the French Riviera.

The Gallic nation also has its very own carnival. Brass bands, parades, floats, giant figurines and bands take to the streets of this mythical city on the French Riviera. For the occasion, Nice decks itself out with thousands of bulbs and flowers to decorate its streets.
The high point is when the Flower Battles occur. As the floats go past they shower the crowds with flowers along the entire parade route thus conferring a springtime look to the city during the cold February days.

So? Feel like enjoying a load of music, rhythm, fun and tonnes of happy chaos? If you need that extra nudge to get going, here’s a playlist featuring Carnival rhythms to ensure you dive into this wild and fun atmosphere.



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