One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture of a place – and, by default, the language too – is to visit during carnival time. There is no better time to see the locals let their hair down, the mood lift and the streets fill with merriment, laughter and fun. People will chat to you freely, you’ll usually experience the best culinary delights of the region and in many cases you will gain a glimpse into history as many festivals take root in centuries-old traditions.
February and March are great months for carnivals across the world, and if you can catch just one then it will be a trip to remember. It’s worth noting that accommodation during festival time can be scarce or expensive, but if you book a language course with accommodation you will avoid this problem; moreover, those staying with local families will really see the culture from the inside!
So if you want to join in the fun, here are some of the best festivals over the coming months…
Latin America & Worldwide:
Top 5 Latin America carnival destinations: Throughout February and March
Quebec Winter Festival, Canada: 27th January – 12th February
Chinese New Year: January 23rd
Carnevale di Venezia, Venice: February 11th – 21st
Carnevale di Viareggio: February 5th – March 3rd
Karneval in Dusseldorf & Cologne, Germany: Throughout February
Berlin International Film Festival, Germany: February 9th – 19th
Las Fallas, Valencia: March 15th – 19th
St Patrick’s Day, Ireland: March 17th
NB. It’s worth bearing in mind that some language schools will close on any public holidays that fall during festival time. However the opportunity to witness local festivities and practise the language outside the classroom usually more than makes up for any missed classes!