Sponsored post: Shake off those winter blues: February is a hot month for carnivals

This is a guest post from Sam Jones, a travel writer for HomeAway

Okay, so Christmas and New Year are full of fun, but dark, cold February leaves you feeling flat.

What you really need is to go find a great party somewhere warm. What better way to do that than to make the most of some of the amazing carnivals that take place around the world in February? Visiting any one of these four carnivals is sure to inject some winter warmth and send your spirit soaring.

untitledRio Carnival, Brazil

Where else to start than with the most famous carnival in the world? Attended by over two million people, the Rio Carnival in Brazil is the place to be for warm days and hot nights full of swirling samba, Latin beats and dazzling costumes. Join the crowds that line the streets for the biggest party in the world. Expect temperatures to be up in the 80s, so Ipanema Beach in Rio is a great place to relax after a night of partying.

The Brazilian love of a party makes for a heady, exciting and infectious experience for carnival visitors. Street bands and dancers ramp up the volume as the tempo increases into the night. Walking through Rio in carnival season without swaying to the incessant beat is virtually impossible.

For the ultimate samba experience, the Sambadromo is a must. Built in 1984, it is 700 meters long and can accommodate 65,000 people for the 10 hour samba party extravaganza. During this time the arena fills with an explosion of colour and energy as the dance troupes parade through.

La Diablada, Bolivia

pic1If you prefer something smaller and more authentic in South America, La Diablada (or Dance of the Devil) explodes in the normally quiet Bolivian town of Oruro. The carnival itself is dedicated to the Patron Saint of the miners – Virgen de Socavon (the tunnel’s virgin). You need plenty of stamina because the carnival runs 18 hours a day, for three days, over a 5km course. Participating groups dress up as demons, devils, Incas and Spanish conquerors. After the first day, any visitor can join with a dance group and travel with the procession.

Don’t expect to be able to stay dry at this carnival because the local tradition of running water battles, means that anyone and everyone gets a thorough soaking. Make sure you have a watertight case for your camera and a change of clothes.

You can expect hot days and warm nights in Bolivia in February but be prepared for some rain as the climate is tropical, with sudden storms that come from nowhere and pass quickly.

Trinidad Carnival

If you have ever attended and enjoyed the Notting Hill carnival, you will love Trinidad. Bigger and better than Notting Hill, Trinidad features massive floats, dance displays and stick fights, as well as the obligatory limbo competitions; all accompanied by Calypso and Soca music. The atmosphere is relaxed, happy and infused with Caribbean flavour.

Band leaders and dance troupes begin preparing for the following year the moment one carnival has finished. The stunning costumes, floats and dance displays on show are the result of months of design, preparation and planning.

Held on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, you can expect the weather during carnival to be dry and hot. The sea stays warm all year, so pack your swimsuit and relax on the beach after dancing the night away.

Goa Carnival, India

pic2Goa is the original hedonistic, hippy destination since the 1960s. Palm trees, wooden shacks on the beach, and relaxing in a hammock as the waves caress the shore come to mind. But in February, the city of Goa comes alive with the sights, smells and sounds of the carnival You can expect daytime temperatures in the 80s, but take something warm because the temperature tends to drop considerably at night.

Founded in the 1500s by the Portuguese Christian rulers, the Goa carnival has since taken on elements of Hindu tradition to create an exotic blend of western dance, Indian music and irresistible food.

As well as the music and dance parades, you will find lots of circus performances and parties taking place in the streets of Goa. The emphasis is on dressing up or masquerading. There are some truly amazing masks and costumes on display. After you have worked up an appetite, street sellers offer some the most authentic and delicious Indian food you will ever encounter.

Travelling to a warm destination in February is a great way to shake off those winter blues. Throw some of the biggest parties in the world into the mix and you have everything you need to revitalise your body, mind and soul. When you return home relaxed and refreshed, spring is just around the corner!