Carnival revellers in their costumes celebrate during the Rose Monday carnival parade in Mainz, Germany, 12 February 2024. EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK

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Europe celebrates Carnival and the Year of the Dragon


Across Europe, thousands celebrated Carnival time – and, in some areas, the Chinese New Year.

Carnival or Shrovetide is a Christian festive season that occurs before Lent. In modern times, the main focus lies with colourful parades and street parties.

It is pre-eminently the festival of “folly, mockery and exuberance”.

In Belgium, one of the biggest carnivals takes place in Aalst.

Events of the past year are scrutinised, sometimes subtly and, at other times, less subtly so.

Members of a carnival group 60 “Fleis” and “Voil Janetten” or “Dirty Gays” parade as “Mastel” Mattel toy dolls during the first day of the annual three-day carnival event in Aalst, Belgium, 11 February. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER MATTHYS
Members of the group 66 Goegeloin “Well Drunk” show Belgian justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne lookalikes air-guitaring around a police van during the first day of the annual three-day carnival event in Aalst. Van Quickenborne stepped down after the “Pipigate” scandal. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER MATTHYS
Another version on the same theme, the minster was also a known fan of “metal” music. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER MATTHYS
Members of the carnival group 118 “Brasserie Prigozjin” thematise the death of Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin who led the Wagner Group Russia-backed mercenaries, in Aalst, Belgium, 11 February 2024. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER MATTHYS

Likewise, in Germany, political events are scrutinised and not every parade float was understated.

Some 70,000 people came to cheer the procession at the town hall in Düsseldorf.

About 8,000 participants, 85 groups on foot, 110 themed floats and 30 brass bands attended the parade.

The Carnival Parade on Rose Monday marks the grand finale of the Mainz Carnival. With a history spanning more than 170 years, it is among the biggest in Germany. Smaller parades are held in several Mainz districts in the days preceding it.

A parade float shows an effigy of former US president Donald Trump holding a pair of scissors in his hand with a cut-up US flag in the shape of a swastika at the annual Rose Monday Carnival parade in Dusseldorf, Germany. The Mainz and Dusseldorf Rose Monday parades are known for their biting political satire. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
A parade float shows an effigy of a Hamas terrorist pushing a family in front of an Israeli tank at the annual Rose Monday Carnival parade in Dusseldorf. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Alice Weidel of right-wing party AfD and left-wing firebrand Sarah Wagenknecht shown as Barbie dolls sitting in a car driven by Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
Clowns attend the annual Rose Monday Carnival parade in Mainz. (Lohnes/Getty Images)

Often recurring was the imagery of the unpopular German Government.

A parade float shows an effigy of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Scholz with eye patch in a sinking ship: “Ship Ahoy” (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach immortalised as the “Master of Disaster'”(Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

In southern Europe, the festivities had a different look – and feel.

Madeira Island, Portugal and Tenerife, Spain showed a more “Latin” take on things.

Far less a political statement, ladies in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal, 10 February. EPA-EFE/HOMEM DE GOUVEIA
Carnival parade with the participation of more than a thousand revellers and more than a dozen floats, in Funchal, Madeira Island. EPA-EFE/HOMEM DE GOUVEIA
Funchal, Madeira Island. EPA-EFE/HOMEM DE GOUVEIA
Carnival’s Parade in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, 09 February. EPA-EFE/Ramon de la Rocha
Candidate Corina Mrazek Gonzalez won the Carnival’s Queen gala, wearing the fantasy “El Mundo” (The World) during Carnival’s Queen gala at Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain EPA-EFE/Ramon de la Rocha

Also occurring across Europe and the wider world were the Chinese New Year celebrations on February 10:

The Year of the Dragon celebrations took place in many cities worldwide,
Participants perform a dragon dance during Chinese New Year celebration in Milan, Italy, 11 February 2024. EPA-EFE/Matteo Corner
In numerous Eastern Asian cities, the Year of he Dragon was marked.
The Chinese Lunar New Year, also called the Spring Festival, falls on 10 February 2024 marking the start of the Year of the Dragon. EPA-EFE/ADAM VAUGHAN
The Chinese New Year was also celebrated across Europe- the Year of the Dragon.
Again in Milan, mixing a Chinese dragon with a distinct European background. EPA-EFE/Matteo Corner