Fancy a Fancy Dress Party? Discover Europe’s Carnival Festivities by Bus!

Fancy a Fancy Dress Party? Discover Europe's Carnival Festivities by Bus!Living on a secluded island, every year the Brits miss out on one of Europe’s biggest parties: Carnival. In countries such as Germany this time of the year is commonly known as the “fifth season”, allowing society to be turned topsy-turvy for a few days, when fools and jesters seize power. During big parades tons of sweets and thousands of little flower bouquets are rained down on the spectators in their fancy dress costumes. A good pinch of social critique must not be missing either, as famous politicians are usually the subject of satirical speeches and ironic caricatures. Germany’s carnival stronghold par excellence is Cologne: From 5 to 9 February the city is turned into one big party.

Carnival in Europe

The carnival festivities traditionally precede Lent and the loud celebrations were originally meant to fend off the ghosts of winter and to make space for spring. During the middle ages, however, carnival became a more and more socially inscribed act of displaying the power of the people to the authorities. This provided a basis for the social critique that is deeply embedded in most of Europe’s present-day carnival parades and parties. One of the most intriguing features of carnival is that every city has its very unique traditions.

The Most Outstanding Carnival Traditions

  • The French city of Dunkerque pays tribute to its status as the centre of the local fishing industry by throwing smoked herring from the town hall’s roof.
  • Fish also plays an important part in the carnival festivities of the Spanish town of Badajoz: On the last day of carnival the jesters swap their costumes for those of widows and come together for the funeral of a sardine, representing the death of carnival (for this year at least).
  • Venice celebrates carnival in a more sophisticated manner: Grand costumes and dainty masks are what the Venetian Carnival is known for.
  • The inhabitants of the Italian town of Ivrea, close to Turin, celebrate carnival by staging a massive food fight, in which oranges serve as weapon of choice.
  • The people of Cologne like to party and during carnival in particular this might lead to some embarrassing moments or mishaps. But they came up with an easy solution: On the last day of carnival they burn the so-called Nubbel, a puppet which symbolically absorbs all of their sins.

Take the Bus to Join Europe’s Carnival Festivities

Take the Bus to Join Europe's Carnival FestivitiesThanks to the offers of low-cost coach companies, the British can join the continent’s festivities for little money. A bus trip from London to Cologne with megabus, for instance, can be booked starting at £26. When you’re on the continent anyway, you should make the most of your trip and take a detour to some other carnival celebrations. A coach journey from Cologne to Venice, for example, can be booked starting at £32. You can also make use of Paris as a transport hub on your vacation: Tickets for a trip from London to Paris are available from £10. Once arrived in the French capital you can continue your bus trip to carnival centres such as Dunkerque, Nice or Turin without breaking the bank.

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