The wild times of Carnival are here again

(CNN) — Ash Wednesday is just days away (Wednesday, March 6). So you know what that means.

It’s Carnival time around the world as people, most particularly folks in areas with strong Roman Catholic traditions, get their party on before the more solemn, introspective days of Lent commence.

Venice, Italy, draws huge crowds annually with its fancy balls, masked celebrants and parade boats plying the canals.

And the wild times at Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) in New Orleans, Louisiana, are the stuff of legends.

But take a look at the gallery above, and you’ll learn Carnival isn’t limited to just a few places. You can travel to Switzerland, Uruguay and the Canary Islands to find colorful Carnival parades and festivals.

Just as parties tend to get chaotic at times, there’s no global standard for when Carnival begins.

In Cologne, Germany, they get a big jump on things with their annual season technically starting back way on November 11. But around the world, it’s the week before Ash Wednesday when the merrymaking, overindulgence of food and drink and pursuit of earthly delights reach a fever pitch.

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