Celebrations where people prepare all year long are few and far between. Most people wait to shop for Christmas until Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Americans flock to see the fireworks on the 4th of July and maybe throw a barbeque or two. Many people also wait for the month before Halloween to start getting their Halloween costumes. But Carnival is a big deal, and many people work on building floats, making costumes and practicing their dances and parade marches in the off-season. Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations are simply spectacular, and with that amount of preparation, it's no wonder why! People flock to watch these festivities from around the world, too. If you're in the market for a Carnival costume or Mardi Gras costume to wear to one of these events or a similarly-themed party, check out these costume ideas for different Carnival celebrations around the world!
Rio de Janeiro Carnival Costumes
|Mermaid Sequin Bodysuit||Men's Sexy Angel Costume||Sexy Peacock||Men's Sexy Bunny Costume|
|Sexy Poseidon||Plus Size Cosmos Goddess||Men's Sexy Ringmaster||Gold Sequin Majorette|
The Carnival of Rio is one of the hottest Carnival celebrations in the world—both for its popularity and weather. World-renowned for gorgeous costumes and extravagant floats, it's a celebration you won't want to miss! Many Carnival outfits feature sequins, glittery gems and lots of large feathers. Attendees can get in on the costumed fun as well, although you'll want to avoid wearing plumes, wings and anything else that will make it difficult to navigate a crowd. (Sequins, gems and other bling are still fine!) Carnival costumes for men and women are typically sexy costumes, giving you the liberty of less fabric to stay cool in the tropical heat. They also get bonus points for being easy to pack!
The Carnival of Brazil
[Source: Antonio Scorza/Getty Images/thetimes.co.uk]
Naturally, we’re going to talk about Brazil’s Carnival first because it’s the biggest Carnival celebration in the world! Several regions throughout Brazil host their own Carnival celebrations including Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. They each celebrate in a slightly different way, but the core of Carnival is present in each of them, including music, dancing, parades with flashy floats and colorful costumes! Most of the costumes are intricately hand-made and they look a lot like showgirl costumes with extra-large plumes. (Even some guys have worn costumes featuring the showy plumes!) Preparation for the festivities takes place in samba schools throughout the year so that they’re more than ready to party by Carnival time.
New Orleans Mardi Gras Costumes
|Mardi Gras Sequin Dress||Mardi Gras Sequin Vest Set||Sequin Carnival Vest Set||Mardi Gras King Costume|
|Sexy Mardi Gras Costume||Suitmeister Mardi Gras Suit||Women's Harlequeen Suit||Mardi Gras Jester Costume|
What's gold and green and purple all over? It should be pretty obvious to you already, but we're talking about Mardi Gras costumes! The typical Mardi Gras theme colors are gold, green and purple, so you're going to see lots of people wearing Mardi Gras outfits in these colors. (Not to mention all the beaded necklaces!) Many of the best Mardi Gras costume ideas will sport the festival colors, but don't be afraid to think outside the box. You're also bound to see jester costumes, peacocks, flappers, kings and crazy suits. Just about anything goes when you're looking for Mardi Gras clothes! Also, don't forget to check the weather, as you might be inclined to wear layers.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
That’s right, Mardi Gras is part of the worldwide Carnival festivities even if “Carnival” isn’t in the name! (Kudos to you if you already knew this.) It was one of the many traditions brought to the region by French settlers. Nowadays, the festivities are celebrated with music and parades, but the Mardi Gras beads are the prominent feature of the Carnival in Louisiana. Mardi Gras even has a color theme: green, purple and gold. You’re bound to see a lot of people in jester costumes or just about anything else they can find within the color theme. However, revelers can rock just about any costume they want!
Carnival of Venice Costumes
|Plus Size Queen of Hearts||King of Hearts Costume||Wicked Queen Costume||Men's Dark Monarch|
|Elizabethan Queen||Elizabethan King Costume||Victorian Ghost Bride||Plus Size Victorian Ghost|
What do you think of when you hear about the Carnival of Venice? You're probably reminded of historical costumes (especially big ballgown ones), elaborate masks and powdered wigs. The Venetian masks are especially a big deal, and many people will customize them to match their Karneval costumes. (If you're a fan of DIY, you're going to love making your own Carnival mask!) Many Venetian Carnival outfits are reminiscent of royalty, so go all out in a king and queen couples' costume, or fly solo as a ghostly gentleman or a beautiful vampiress. Masks give off an heir of mystery, so your masquerade costume idea can also reflect that.
The Carnival of Venice
[Source: Manuel Silvestri/Reuters]
If you’re a fan of masquerades, you’ll love the Carnival of Venice! The Carnival of Venice used to be the most famous Carnival celebration until Rio de Janeiro became more prominent. Venice’s Carnival is the most famous for its use of costume masks. (If you ever wondered why a mask is sometimes called a “Venetian mask”, now you know!) The Carnival of Venice also has parades, music and dancing, but there are also masquerade balls to attend. If you ask us, that's a wonderful excuse to dress up in elaborately decorated masks and Victorian costumes. (Or just about anything else with lots of frills and ruffles so you can twirl like a pro!)
Carnival of Cadiz Costumes
|Adult Pinata Onesie||Adult Eggplant Costume||Diver and Octopus Mommy Costume||Gorilla Climbing Skyscraper Costume|
|Hulk Hogan Outfit||Inflatable Hippo Costume||Adult Lobster Costume||Plus Size 80s Workout Costume|
The Carnival of Cadiz is a very light-hearted affair. Known for being one of the funniest Carnival celebrations, revelers don a variety of silly costumes and enjoy all manner of music and dance. Whether you're planning to go it alone, attend with your significant other or go in a group, you can let your personal brand of humor shine. That might mean that you plan on dressing to the nines with your squad as part of an inflatable costume group, or you want to run around in a funny vegetable costume. Ultimately, you do you.
The Carnival of Cadiz in Spain
There are several Carnivals held in Spain every year, but the Cadiz Carnival is known as being the funniest. The Carnival of Cadiz is dominated by music and while there are plenty of bands throughout the city, you can also find street musicians and bystanders sharing their love of music from the skilled to the beginner. Groups called chirigotas are prevalent and they sing funny songs about a variety of topics, from politics to pop stars. There is also a lot of improvisational theater to check out, too! The singers and actors dress in costumes that are less showy, with more of an emphasis on cleverness and humor. (This is a great time for anyone to pull out their favorite silly costumes because revelers are encouraged to dress up too!) Like several other Carnivals, the festivities end with the burying of the sardine and onlookers are encouraged to participate as mourners bemoaning the passing of the fish. (After all, when the festivities end and Lent begins, that’s also when the fasting starts.)
Carnival and Mardi Gras Masks
|Carnival Mask||Black Glitter Bunny Mask||Mardi Gras Mask||White and Gold Mask|
|Red Lace Devil Mask||Black Velvet Mask||DIY White Mask||Black Glitter Eyemask|
Whether ready-made or customized, masks are a big part of Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations. There's always the choice to buy your Mardi Gras mask. However, if you can't find one to match your costume or you like to DIY, getting a blank mask to decorate is great too! Many Karneval masks include glitter, sequins, feathers, ribbons and paint, so these are great items to grab when making your own custom Mardi Gras mask.
Carnival and Mardi Gras Accessories
|Gold Theatrical Wings||Mardi Gras Pasties||Mardi Gras Mini Top Hat||Purple Boa|
|Purple Wig||Plush Jester Hat||Gold Bead Necklace||Harlequin Stockings|
If you're determined to pack light or you want to bling out in costume accessories at a late-night party, there are plenty of options for you! Wear bead necklaces and fluffy boas, or lean into the jester costume accessories—you're free to try a little bit of everything. Or outrageous wigs that will surely make you stick out in a crowd! (You could even save these versatile Mardi Gras accessories for festivals or raves, too!)
Other Famous Carnival Festivals
Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands
[Source: Desiree Martin/AFP/International Business Times]
The Carnival in Tenerife is widely considered to be the second best Carnival in the world after Rio. Costumes are king here and many spectators dress up, so you might feel out of place in street clothing. There is also a great deal of cross-dressing and drag. (Feel free to wear whatever way makes you comfortable!) The selection of the Carnival queens is one of the most exciting parts of the festival, and they wear extravagant costumes that are often mounted on wheels. It almost makes them look like a one-person float! (Some of these costumes can weigh up to 80kg. That's about 176lbs! Oof!) There is also a drag queen of the Carnival competition and a children’s Carnival queen competition. The winners all take part in the grand parade and show off their costumes along with dance troupes for one of the most spectacular parades in the world!
The Carnival of Binche in Belgium
[Source: Francisco Seco/AP Photo/apnews.com]
The Carnival of Binche in Belgium is one of the more bizarre Carnival festivals, but they have been celebrating it this way for centuries! A large host of men dress as “Gilles”, wearing colorful stuffed costumes adorned with bells along with wooden clog shoes. As if the costumes themselves weren’t outlandish enough, their headgear consists of either hats with ostrich plumes or wax masks with green glasses. They wield sticks to help ward off evil spirits and they also hand out oranges to spectators. (People usually throw the oranges later in the day, but you're never supposed to hand them back to a Gille!) Their masks are actually patented, so they can only be sold to prospective Gilles and only worn in Binche.
The Winter Carnival of Quebec, Canada
[Source: Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press/The Canadian Encyclopedia]
The Winter Carnival in Quebec, Canada is a little newer to the Carnival scene than some of the other festivals, but that doesn’t make it any less fun! Because it's held during the winter season in Canada, the festivities include a lot of snow and ice-related revelries such as snow sculptures, an ice palace, and ice skating. There are also parades and costumes, but you can be sure that they’re wearing more than they do in Rio and other countries with warm climates. (Granted, the snow bath is an exception!) You're also bound to see their snowman mascot, Bonhomme. The Winter Carnival is probably one of the better times of year to crack out a mascot costume without worrying about heatstroke. Some of the festivities are held later in the day or at night because they add splashes of color to the events with colorful lights. The Quebec Carnival is one of the most family-friendly Carnivals because there are plenty of activities for kids and families, and drinking 'til you drop isn’t one of the main focuses.
We hope you have some great ideas for your next Carnival costume. Whether you plan to go to Rio or you want to create your own themed party back home, there are tons of ways to enjoy the occasion. Have you ever been to a Carnival or Mardi Gras celebration? Are you looking to throw your own Mardi Gras party from home? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below! Also, feel free to share some of your favorite Carnival costume ideas with us. We're always looking for fun new costumes!