Pre-Lenten festivals, known as Carnival, are celebrated around the world, usually the last celebrations before the fasting days of Lent, ending on Ash Wednesday. They include music, parades, and street parties where people dress up in exotic costumes that are an expression of each country's culture and ethnic background. I choose the festivals in the Caribbean and Mexico, first because they are the ones I am most familiar with and next because of their outgoing exuberance and uniqueness.
Carnival is believed to have started in Italy, hundreds of years ago, by the Catholics who wanted to have a celebration with music, food, dancing and parades, before the somber days of Lent began. It was named 'Carnevale' because Catholics could not eat meat during this time.
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Accommodations - http://carnivalinfo.com/2014/01/trinidad-carnival-accommodations/
Accommodations in Negril - http://www.booking.com/city/jm/negril.html?aid=308193&labe=Jamaica_Carnival_textCozumel - http://thisiscozumel.com/tourist-info/100-cozumel-events-and-public-holidays/235-cozumel
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Curacao's Carnival season
Curacao's Carnival season began this year in January but the six weeks leading up to Easter is when the many parades take place. The first of which 'the Horse Parade' kicks off on Feb 23, and the last one the 'Grand Farewell Carnival Parade on Mar 4. BThe parades are a blend of traditional Tumba and Calyso music, Masked performers, and street dancing, and are held the weeks before the start of Lent.
Trinidad & Tobago Carnival
Trinidad & Tobago Carnival - Mar 3 & 4 - is an explosion of colour, music, revelry, and creativity, a stunning spectacle of masquerade bands, spectacular costumes, pulsating music and unparalleled partying. The annual event is held on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and is known for it's calypso music which recently has been joined with Soca which is a type oc Caribbean music that includes Indian musical instruments. Colorful and exotic costumes, stick fights, and Limbo competitions are also part of the festival.
Jamaica's Carnival, or Bacchanal, begins this year on Mar 7 and ends on April 25. (link http://bacchanaljamaica.com/2014-calendar/). Most of the large events take place during Easter, in Kingston, Negril, and Montego Bay. The Carnival events include colorful Calypso, Reggae, and Soca music, parades with costumed and masqueraded dancers, and island bands.
Carnival in Cozumel
Carnival in Cozumel, Mexico is a week long celebration that begins on Feb 26, with parades on Mar 1 and 2, and the final parade on Mar 4, Fat Tuesday with dazzling technicolor processions on Cozumel's downtown seafront. There will be costume competitions, live bands playing music around the city, a carnival king and queen and performers dancing in the streets.
On Mexico's Pacific coast one of the largest pre-Lenten celebrations takes place in Mazatlan each year. This year their Carnaval is due to start on Feb 27 and go to Mar 4. This year their Carnival celebration has the theme 'The Skin of the Sea', which alludes to the belief that the best celebrations take place in cities that have a seacoast.
Many of the events will be held along the oceanfront Malecon, which is in the historic center of the city. Mexico's cultures will be showcased with samba dancing, a bullfight, a outdoor food festival. and fireworks.