Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When: February 20–24
While some cities like to boast that they host the world’s best festival, there’s no doubt that Rio’s Carnival is the biggest, sexiest, most colourful and most famous in the world.
The whole basis of a carnival is a hedonistic celebration, which dates back to the Ancient Greeks celebrating Dionysus, the god of wine. And no one does hedonism better than the Brazilians.
For five days Rio is a riot of celebrations, culminating in a parade where dancers and drummers strut their stuff to see which samba school will be crowned champion.
While these main parades are conducted in a purpose-built stadium (you’ll need to book a ticket to see them), there are plenty of other events on around the city, including free parades that the public are welcome to join, and the ‘alternative’ carnival in Rio’s Lapa district.
Costumes aren’t compulsory, but wearing something a bit out-there will help you get in the spirit.
If you only see one big festival in your life, make it this one.