Have you ever dreamed of being the belle of an 18th-century ball or strutting your stuff under a festive mask while dancing down the street? Masquerades have evolved from royal celebrations into world-class events, where big ball gowns or animalistic costumes make unforgettable fashion statements.
That’s why the next five masquerades are worth the visit. Not only are their attendees expected to wear the most outrageous costumes and masks, they also display the culture and unity of their celebrators.
France: The Grand Masked Ball of Kamel Ouali
For one enchanting night, the Orangerie of Versailles plays host to an elegant affair where guests donned in 18th century masks and costume provide wild entertainment. This extravaganza is called the Grand Masked Ball of Kamel Ouali, and continues the tradition that Queen Marie Antoinette ignited centuries ago.
However, you will not need to be summoned to the this event by her royal highness in order to attend the bal masque, although the châteaux is filled with secrets of the many royal masquerade balls that were once held here. But on June 27, only attendees wearing the boldest and most elaborate costumes can enter the palace’s gate. And as one of the hottest tickets in town, this is the place to be since tigers and acrobats are also known to make a special appearance.
Italy: Carnival of Venice
When it comes to masquerades, the city of Venice has one of the liveliest scenes in the world every year in the Cannaregio district. The Carnival of Venice has gained world fame for the creative masks and outrageous costumes of its revelers, a fashion trend that seems to get more elaborate every year.
After all, masquerading in the city was a tradition that is believed to have started to commemorate a victory of the Republic of Venice during the early 1160s, and became a way for Venice to maintain a respected reputation during the 1700s. Since then, the Carnival of Venice has evolved into a prestigious feast for the senses with delicious food and wine, artistic dancers, a parade, contest for best mask and much more, which will be held on Jan. 31- Feb. 17.
California: The Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball
Venice officially lands in Los Angeles during the annual Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball. Yes, you can expect a vibrant celebration accentuated with bright costumes and body paint with eccentric masks to match, but this is one of the few balls of its kind in the city where you’ll be more enthusiastic to dance alongside a stylish witch, fairy or noble than an A-list celebrity for an entire weekend.
So if you’re looking to add some spice to your summer in an extraordinary way, the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball promises two days of excitement, music and live performances that are designed to make the world of fanaticism come to life here.
Bulgaria: Surva, International Festival of Masquerade Games
In order to truly embrace the authentic spirit of Bulgaria you’ll want to be on the streets of Pernik on an even year and on the last weekend of January for a cultural extravaganza at the Masquerade Festival in Pernik.
Formally known as Surva, International Festival of Masquerade, infuses the town with the beat of drums, bells and religious chanting as thousands of celebrators decorate the streets in animal-style costumes to honor this age-old tradition of masquerading designed to welcome the spring by scaring off evil spirits. Here, the more artistic the performances the better the chance of leaving the festival a victor of its games since participants from Europe, Africa and beyond specifically head to this vibrant celebration with the goal of putting on the best show.
Ghana: Fancy Dress Festival
Staying true to its name since the 19th century, the Fancy Dress Festival is one of the world’s most colorful New Year rituals. While most of the world is recovering from a night of New Year’s Eve celebrations, the town of Winneba transforms into a huge party with groups of fancy-dress revelers rhythmically parading through the streets to the beat of brass music.
Although this festival puts a unique spin on Europe’s masked balls, the eclectic outfits seen here are uniquely African, especially the variations of movements of the performers who are all driven to win this dancing masquerade competition.