The Globe Guides team trip round the world's famous
and extravagant pre-Lentern festivals , from Venice's
ancient Carnivale in Italy and Trinidad's
street parade to Sydney's Mardi Gras and
Rio de Janeiro's world famous and highly
First we travel with Ian Wright to Baalbek
in Syria. Here, thousands of years ago the Babylonians
celebrated the same feast associated with Pompeii
and Bacchus the God of wine which included the
ritual of pulling a wheeled ship full of revellers
to throw trinkets to the poor. The Roman name
for this was Carre Navallis, 'ship of fools'.
Later, the words were changed to Carne Vale or
farewell to the flesh - in other words - carnival.
The Venetians lead the way with the most debauched
of carnivals, each hiding their shame behind elaborately
designed masks. The carnival was banned by Napoleon
who was disgusted by this show of religious indulgence.
Nevertheless, carnival has spread throughout the
Catholic world and is now synonymous with an unrivalled
passion for partying, for which towns prepare
for months in advance.
In Venice, Megan McCormick decides
to have her own limited edition mask made from
a cast of her face. Venetians used to have masks
made to avoid public scrutiny.
Meanwhile, Justine Shapiro heads to New
Orleans where decorated floats proceed through
the lit streets. Carre Navallis has come full
circle as hundreds of thousands of spectators
line the streets to catch throws and doubloons.
Justine heads back into the melee to experience
the Mardi Gras on the other side of town in the
French quarter's main drag, Bourbon Street,
where tourists crowd the streets until the early
hours of the morning.
Back in Trinidad's Port of Spain, Justine
picks up a costume and heads to the 'best show
on earth', introduced to the area by French Catholic
plantation owners who held masquerade balls to
celebrate the last two days before lent. When
slavery was abolished in 1834, the ball took to
the streets with unbridled frenzy. Today more
than 250,000 revellers participate in the 'Carnival
of the People.'
Like Trinidad, Rio de Janeiro reflects
the diversity of the many cultures that influence
the carnival. Ian Wright goes downtown
to a Samba school, where steel bands and talented
dancers strut their stuff. The Samba Schools are
neighbourhood associations that spend all year
creating the costumes, songs and floats in preparation
for the big one. Eventually, the schools will
descend on the Sambadrome, the arena for
the competing Samba schools. With 5000 dancers
in each school, the parade is an awesome spectacle
as half naked bodies, glitzy costumes and pulsating
drums all combine to compete for the pride of
Brazil. Ian quickly changes his carnival costume
to checkout the Copacabana Carnival Ball.
A completely different affair, this type of carnival
is exclusively for those who can afford it. At
$300 a ticket, the event is a must for the country's
Finally, Justine heads to Sydney to participate
in Australia's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
A celebration of Gay and Lesbian rights, the city
embraces outrageous behaviour and on the night
of the Mardi Gras parade, anything goes!