After the New Year celebration, the world is waiting for something to celebrate… And incredible February brings lots of carnivals around the world to celebrate life! Planning to join one or curious how it goes? Check out how to get prepared!
In this post, I’d like to share with you guys my experience of the carnivals I’ve been to: the most famous Brazilian carnival, the Colombian and the Russian one (yep, we have our own here).
Let me start with the most unexpected (I assume) carnival that you might not even hear about. We call it Maslenitsa and its tradition goes back to the times of our pagan ancestors. It’s mainly dedicated to saying goodbye to winter and its amusements and welcoming of spring.
This year I’m in Russia for Maslenitsa so I just couldn’t miss it! As most of the residents of my town, I’ve celebrated it outdoors. Of course, I’ve filmed it for you and you’re welcome to see the festival on my Youtube channel 🙂 It was so much fun! I guess some parts might seem a bit ridiculous and crazy, that’s why I’ve included the explanations. Just see it, you might like it 😀
I’ve already shared with you guys some of the traditions of Maslenitsa and the meaning of each day of Maslenitsa week. The best part of it for me is the mood of the holiday, especially the atmosphere of the Sunday when all the people go out to the main square of the city and celebrate together, eating crepes, singing and dancing in a ring and participating in the traditional contests such as climbing 20-metre wooden post, hanging on a chin-up bar and burning a scarecrow of Maslenitsa.
How to prepare.
If you’re thinking about celebrating Maslenitsa in Russia, there are several important things to take in mind: warm and waterproof boots, a jacket and a hat. Even if it’s spring time and the temperature can be above zero, it’s still windy and snowy around. You’ll be dancing, moving around, experiencing temperature fluctuations. You don’t wanna get flu, right?
The first carnival in Latin America, as well as the first country there, was in Colombia in February 2015. It happened during my first backpack trip there, in Barranquilla. Of course, the carnival goes through all the main cities of the country and lasts for a week or so. It is a collection of the whole Latin and Colombian culture: dances, flowers, songs, jokes, parties all day and night long!
How to prepare.
Don’t neglect the following points, they will definitely help you to have an amazing time:
- There are a lot of events in Barranquilla you can visit even for free. All the streets for the whole week become full of Colombians, foreign travellers and dancers. Everything and everyone merge into a colourful chaotic dance and chore. It’s a really popular time in the city, so, please, book a hotel several months in advance, or you’ll need (as I had to) stay in a really simple apartment room for 30$.
- To see a street carnival, a parade of dance schools and different styles in Barranquilla you can book a seat (a plastic chair, in fact) right at the place for 5000 — 1000 COP (2-3$), depending on the row. Come half an hour earlier, buy food and drinks that street sellers offer and don’t forget a cap, sunglasses and a sunblock creme, even though there’s an oilcloth roof. Later don’t hesitate to join a crowd to continue the celebration.
Carnival in Barranquilla is a massive flow of happiness, joy and love for life! It appeared to be something really special and absolutely right to start experiencing the world of American carnival.
Finally, the greatest, the most popular and the most famous show: the carnival in Rio de Janeiro. And I think I don’t need any words to comment it… Once in a lifetime, save money, however difficult and come to Rio de Janeiro!!! The entrance for the carnival isn’t really expensive, especially taking in mind the tips to get the cheapest tickets I’ve mentioned, you’ll mainly need to pay for your plane tickets. Plus there are so many things to enjoy (even for free!) in that marvellous city such as unbelievable hikings, one-day trips to the nearby towns, museums and of course incredible nature! Just be prepared to experience Rio de Janeiro!
The carnival goes through the whole country and Rio and you definitely have to take part in a street carnival by yourself as it’s SO unbelievably crazy, especially on the island of Florianopolis that you won’t believe if I tell you about that one. And the main show, the legendary carnival of Rio de Janeiro at Sambodromo is a must-see! I’ve had a chance to see it with my own eyes a year ago, in February 2016.
I was extremely excited about the night of the carnival, but my friends warned me that it won’t be as easy as it seems. So I prepared food and water to take with me, a rain jacket as you never know when it can start raining in summer there and several batteries for my camera.
It usually starts at 9 pm and lasts till around 5 am. If you don’t wanna be in a hurry, come an hour earlier, believe me, you might need even more time to find your sector and your seat. Especially if you bought a ticket for 8-13 sector.
Not everyone sustains to see the show until the end, but I was full of decisiveness to do it. Of course! I’ve made it there from Russia, cherishing my hope from the very childhood… And yes, I made it till the morning. At around 1 am I was already reeeally tired, especially my bottom part 😀 The benches there are definitely not for a sensitive viewer: they’re made of concrete. It would be better if I’d taken a pillow or something soft. But the good point is that after midnight you can easily change your row for a better one and see the festival from a closer distance. I have so many photos from that night, but here are only a tiny little part of them.
How to prepare.
- Come an hour earlier not to be in a rush finding your sector and the way to reach it.
- Bring your food, drinkable water, pills for headache as it’ll be quite noisy at Sambodromo and a rain jacket.
- Charge all your devices and extra batteries.
- A pillow help you to spend time more comfortably.
Wish you guys to experience the most beautiful and crazy carnival by yourself wherever it will be! And don’t forget to have a watch the video of Russian Maslenitsa celebration! Who knows, maybe it’ll be your next carnival… 😉