The Cologne Carnival is among the world's largest and well renowned carnival celebrations. Also referred to locally as "Fastelovend" the "crazy days" only start on Women's Carnival Day (the Thursday before Rose Monday) and it is at this point when the wild celebrations truly begin. From then, those involved, the "Jecken", will continue to revel on the streets and in the pubs around Cologne until Carnival Tuesday.
A delightful array of traditions run strong at the Cologne Carnival, each adding excitement and spreading joy in their own way. The most apparent of which is undoubtedly the colourful costumes donned by the vast majority of attendees. The motto here being the more colourful, the better and homemade, outlandish efforts are welcomed. If you think you're receiving an awful lot of kisses on the cheek, you're costume hasn't made you more attractive, but instead you're receiving what the locals call "Bützje” - a playful kiss to the cheek that is noncommittal and therefore is dispensed to many.
You'll also notice plenty of "Strussjer" (small bouquets of flowers) and "Kamelle" (carnival sweets) being exchanged and brandished about, that and the copious amounts of locally brewed Kölsch being enjoyed by all.
An explosion of colour, music and creativity, all in typically stunning surrounds, Trinidad's Carnival has set the benchmark for many similar celebrations that have spawned because of this. Booming masquerade bands, outrageous costumes and pulsating music are a staple for this party often described as the greatest show on Earth.
Carnival begins under the cover of darkness here. Commencing at 4am on Monday, the music starts and revellers take to the streets for the pre-dawn party known as J'Ouvert. Ritualistic and traditional, J'Ouvert celebrates the dark side of Carnival, with people bathed in chocolate, mud and paint depicting devils, demons and monsters as they lose their inhibitions.
The panache really comes out on Carnival Tuesday when thousands of masqueraders are in full costume and full flow, strutting in front of television cameras as a variety of different bands showcase their stuff, ready for judging and hoping to be crowned Masquerade Band of the Year.
Famed for it's unique approach, the highlight of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival is undoubtedly the crowning of the Queen and Drag Queen of the festival. Coupled with an enviable beach setting and somewhat surprisingly good and consistent weather for Europe at this time of year.
Drawing in the extravagant and the extraordinary, the Carnival has become one of the most important attractions for the island. One of the major events of the celebration is the Comparsas Contest, where feathers bob to the rhythm of the music on masterful costumes in entrancing choreographies. That kicks off the forthcoming street parties, bringing all the locals together, out in a sea of music, to the Gran Canaria sun. A non-stop party for you to relish.
Rio De Janeiro
You didn't seriously think we could compile this list without mentioning Rio, did you? Well, either way, we've saved the best 'til last, as the Carnival capital of the world is undoubtedly the place to go, even if it's just to say you went. This is the time of year that Rio really steps an already lively atmosphere up a notch and goes into party overdrive.
The most eye-catching costumes and flawless dance moves go on full display here, with the Sambodromo Parade which consists of the city's samba schools competing against each other to show their skills off. There's also a selection of Carnival balls not to be missed, many with different themes to ensure the evening is to all attendee's taste.
As ever though, the atmosphere on the streets is hard to replicate and should be your focus. Remarkable street parties called blocos dominate the city and run for almost 24 hours straight! With homemade costumes and beer and cachaça (Brazilian rum) aplenty, people swarm in their hundreds and thousands to congregate in the city centre to dance to the inescapable Carnival beat. Blocos pop up all over the place too, so no worries about trying to find one.