The Carnival season is one of the most lively of the year — parades, joyous music, costumes and elaborate floats invade city streets around the world, welcoming thousands of travelers.
Though the customs vary from city to city, Carnival is a tradition that spans the globe, from the Caribbean to Brazil – which is home to the world’s largest Carnival celebration in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil alone is welcoming more than 206,000 Airbnb guests to the country for the festival week*, with Airbnb hosts on track to make more than $21 million over the course of the week-long celebration**.
While some Carnival festivals go into the fall, we’re breaking down the spring’s must-see fêtes in more off-the-beaten-path destinations in Argentina, Uruguay and the Caribbean, along with Airbnb Homes and Experiences providing authentic end-to-end travel experiences even in the heart of the action.
Necochea, Buenos Aires Province
During the Carnival season, rhythm, color and joy invade this classic coastal city of Buenos Aires Province — one of our trending destinations for 2019. With a large presence of local murgas, a popular form of musical theatre in the area, a visit to Necochea during the festive season is ideal for those who want to join a great party and enjoy sun-filled days by the sea. Find a sampling of places to stay here.
Chilecito, La Rioja
In this city of La Rioja, one of the most traditional and ancestral Carnivals in the province takes place. To mark the season, its residents say “in February, Chilecito is celebrating” since the celebrations also coincide with the anniversary of the city’s founding. The celebrations fuse parades of comparsas — groups of singers, musicians and dancers — and floats with historical commemorations. The homemade costumes, the water and the foam turn the festival of the city of La Rioja into pure effervescent joy. Find a sampling of places to stay here.
Tilcara and Humahuaca, Jujuy
Although very few know it well, this Carnival is characterized by being the most traditional and ancient of the country with five centuries of practice. What visitors cannot miss is the burial and the disinterment of the devil, a small doll that imitates this character and symbolizes the sun, to the rhythm of traditional music. Find a sampling of places to stay here, and Experiences to take here.
Lincoln, Buenos Aires Province
This Carnival destination, also found in Buenos Aires Province, is known as the Capital of traditional Carnival, and is the symbol of a custom that began in 1928. Today the floats with the famous “big heads” mobile dolls are the main attraction of the revelry. In addition, the celebration includes demonstrations of samba schools and the presence of renowned Argentine artists. Find a sampling of places to stay here.
One of the more traditionally timed island festivals, Aruba’s Carnival means two months of parades with colorful floats, contagious music, impressive costumes, glitter, calypso, and rum. The celebration peaks during the Grand Parade on Sunday, March 3, and culminates with the Farewell Parade and the burning of Momo that evening. Find a sampling of places to stay here.
Bacchanal Jamaica is an event that expresses the island’s spirit and showcases to the world a Carnival truly unique to Jamaica. It’s a celebration full of music, dance, food, art and history. The series kicks off on Friday, March 8, at the Mas Camp with a display of costumes and culminates with the memorable Road Parade on Sunday, April 28. Find a sampling of places to stay here, and Experiences to take here.
Ponce, Puerto Rico
The Carnaval de Ponce dates back to 1858 and has roots in the traditions of Nice and Barcelona with touches of Afro-Antillean music. Happening in southern Puerto Rico’s city of Ponce, it’s considered one of the oldest Carnivals in the western hemisphere. From February 27 to March 5, traditional masquerade dances with colorful costumes and parades culminate with the Burial of the Sardine event. Find a sampling of places to stay here, and Experiences to take here.
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
One of the biggest and most well-known celebrations in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival lures thousands of travellers from around the world to the island’s capital city, Port of Spain. It’s a true celebration of the island’s culture from March 4-5 with giant parades, elaborate costumes, calypso and Soca musicians, and a lot of rum. The party concludes with the crowning of the Calypso Monarchs during “Dimanche Gras”. Find a sampling of places to stay here.
As Uruguay’s largest and the world’s longest Carnival festival, street dances, pulsating drumbeats and parades of women adorned in elaborate costumes are custom during the 40 days of celebrations. In addition to the dancing, guests will also experience murgas, a street theater group that performs political satire and engages the crowds with comedic acts. Find a sampling of places to stay here.
On a smaller scale, but equally as exuberant and authentic, is the Carnival celebration in Colonia. Travellers will feel as if they are stepping back in time in one of Uruguay’s oldest towns, laden with cobblestone streets and antique cars — but still be mesmerized by the street performances that rival those of the larger Carnival host cities. Find a sampling of places to stay here.
*Based on internal Airbnb data for guest arrivals and projected host earnings for bookings made from March 1 – March 5, 2019 in Brazil.
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