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News & Advice

Travel By Numbers: Carnival

The world's greatest party season has arrived. Will Jones adds up all the ways to join in the fun


The year that the first carnevale (farewell to meat) was recorded in Venice, making it the world's oldest such celebration. Revellers would indulge to excess before Lent from behind the anonymity of masks. The event was banned when the Venetian Republic fell in 1797 and was revived in 1979. It's largely aimed at tourists now, but there are still elaborate masks and costumes galore, plus gondola parades and balls.



The date this month of Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. The most well-known Mardi Gras festivities are held in New Orleans where the dress code is green, purple or gold – colours which symbolise justice, faith and power respectively. This year's celebrations will incorporate the New Orleans Saints' victory at the Super Bowl last week, so expect them to be particularly raucous.



Time in the morning that the Swiss city of Basel begins and ends its 72-hour carnival, which follows the Protestant calendar and kicks off on 22 February. The city delves into colourful abandon – the fasnachtler (participants) run wild in satirical costume, accompanied by piccolos and drums. The Switzerland Travel Centre offers two-night breaks to Basel from £197 per person.



Number of flowers showered onto spectators by costumed performers at the Nice Carnival. This year's Blue Planet theme incorporates 20 floats and 1,000 musicians, while the flower parade will blanket the city in lilies, mimosa, roses and gladioli; carnival continues to 28 February. Returns from Gatwick this month start £61 with easyJet.



The number of revellers that congregate for the carnival in Salvador, the Brazilian state capital of Bahia. While Rio de Janeiro may take the prize for the most well-known carnival in Brazil – if not the world – its northerly neighbour is argued to be the world's biggest street party. Festivities incorporate more Afro-Brazilian influences. TAM Airlines flies from Heathrow to Salvador via Sao Paulo.



Minutes past the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when Cologne's carnival season is declared open. It is suspended over Christmas then starts again in the build-up to Lent. The main event is on "Rose Monday" (15 February this year), when a parade of floats snakes through the city. The Excelsior Hotel's Rose Monday package costs €460 per person, with two nights' B&B and access to the carnival grandstand.



The year in which the Barranquilla Carnival in Colombia was given Unesco status as a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". The wordy honour was given for the influence on the celebrations of the Caribbean, European and indigenous cultural traditions from this part of the country. The 1930s Hotel El Prado in the Prado district has double rooms from US$105 (£70).



Years the Portuguese ruled Goa, from 1510 to 1961. They imposed their architecture, culture and religion on India's smallest state, a legacy which remains – over a quarter of the population is Christian. Today, the carnival has absorbed Hindu influences, which gives a dynamic flavour to the parades and partying. Thomson Airways flies from Manchester and Gatwick to Goa.