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Let your hair down, swing your hips and boogie it out at some of the greatest party locations in the world. From Rio to Venice and New Orleans the music, costumes, glitz and pizzazz helps get these endless parties started.

Rio de Janeiro Carnaval
Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil When: Four days prior to Lent For the world's ultimate party and the only place to get down and swing your hips you should head to Rio. This is the King of the Carnival festivals, a wild four-day period of euphoric dance, singing and partying leading up to Lent. In Rio it has enormous religious and cultural significance. Parties last all day and night and are held everywhere from the streets and squares to bars and clubs. It literally takes over the city, culminating in the Rio Carnival Parade in which samba schools vie for honours. You can join in, simply get a costume and learn the moves.

The Carnival of Venice, Italy
Where: Venice, Veneto, Italy When: Starts two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday If you visit Venice for Carnival you will be surrounded in a time wrap where nothing else matters but the party, the costumes and the continuation of the celebration of life and dance. Carnevale is the last let your hair down before Lent, when the town's population and international visitors don gob-stopping masks in an endless masquerade along the watery and often snowy Venetian backdrop.

New Orleans Mardi Gras
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA When: From Twelfth Night (January 6) until Fat Tuesday (usually in February) Equally famous as the previous entries, New Orleans hangs it all out in the preparation for Lent. The long festival season features parades, balls and parties culminating in the two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday, particularly the last five days.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
Where: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia When: February/March This annual gay pride festival is awash with Queens, frocks, feathers, the weird and wonderful. It is the largest event of its kind in the world and takes place right in the centre of Sydney. The event has had a rather controversial history but today enjoys a range of supporters beyond the local gay community. Activities include art exhibitions and a film festival but the feature is the famed parade with its politically edged floats. It starts out with more than 200 "Dykes on Bikes" revving up Oxford St.

Las Fallas
Where: Valencia, Spain When: 15-19 March The fiery Las Fallas festival is one of Spain's best, and that's saying something. During the five day event large wooden structures or ninots are built, often to depict humorous or satirical situations, and displayed around the city. They are then set alight on the final day amidst a burst of fireworks, firecrackers and general revelry.

St Patrick's Day
Where: Dublin, Ireland and worldwide When: March 17 This is Ireland's national holiday to celebrate its most beloved patron saint. Today it is celebrated both as a religious and non-religious holiday around the world by those of Irish descent and also those of other backgrounds. Most celebrations are themed on things Irish and include the colour green of course. While you can attend St Patrick's Day celebrations anywhere in the world nothing beats the parades and the excitement of being at the cultural and spiritual heart of the event in Dublin.

Calgary Stampede
Where: Calgary, Canada When: Early to Mid July This 10-day feast of rodeo, concerts and pancake competitions is a stomping good time for cowboys and wannabes. Pack your hat and boots for a festival known as the "Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth". There are also concerts, chuck wagon races, agricultural competitions and many other events. Yeehaa!

World Tango Championships
Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina When: August Buenos Aires heats up big time in August when sultry dancers take to the dance floor to show off their moves. There are dance venues throughout the city and free classes and concerts.

Eastern Highlands Cultural Show / Goroka Show
Where: Goroka, Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea When: September 16 For a real gathering of the clans in feathers, mud, skirts and with body piercing, include a trip to the Eastern Highlands on your itinerary in mid September. This is a rare opportunity to see the hundreds of tribes that populate the Highlands, enjoy their music, dancing and rituals. Each year the event attracts about 140,000 people including many foreigners. It takes place on the weekend nearest Independence Day (September 16).

Full Moon Party
Where: Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand When: Every full moon The crescent shaped beach of Haad Rin comes alive every month with some 10,000-30,000 people who come to celebrate the new moon. Jugglers, fire-eaters and a variety of beats get the crowds thumping until dawn.
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