Carnival vs. Fair

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Difference between Carnival and Fair

Carnivals and fairs are some of the most enjoyable occasions in any culture. Marked by gatherings of people and colorful celebrations, both are similar and yet different. Let's see what their most distinctive characteristics are.



The term “carnival” refers to the festive season that typically occurs just before the Lenten celebration. The culmination of the event is usually held in the month of February. Carnivals are generally celebrated with public displays and/or parades, and they may include elements of circuses, masquerades and street parties. Such events are typically marked by people wearing elaborate costumes.

A fair is an event in which people gather to display and/or trade produce and other goods. Some fairs also include the parading or display of animals, and the event may run concurrently with carnivals or some other type of entertainment. Still other fairs are held in order for entrepreneurs or merchants to showcase agricultural, pastoral or horticultural products and machinery.

How It Is Celebrated Around The World

Carnivals are traditionally festivals held in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communities. Many Protestant societies do not celebrate carnivals per se, although they may celebrate similar events, as in the case of the Danish Carnival and Shrove Tuesday festivities. One of the most recognizable carnivals is the one held in Brazil, and there are many more regularly held in different cities and regions around the world.

Fairs are celebrated all over the world in such forms as agricultural shows, fete or fête, county fairs, exhibitions, state fairs, festivals, market fairs, shows, and carnivals. Some fairs may also incorporate flea markets or auto shows.


Carnivals actually started out as traditions held to celebrate certain agricultural and seasonal cycles. These events were also originally held for purifying purposes. This is why many of the early carnivals were characterized by the wearing of masks, a tradition that survives to this very day. These masks typically symbolized mythical or supernatural creatures.

The ancient Romans regularly held fairs to celebrate the intermission periods between labor and pleadings. These celebrations later gave way to Christian religious events that were held to commemorate the anniversary of churches. In these events, traders and merchants would offer their wares for sale even in the churchyards. These practices continued until Henry VI took the throne. Among the fairs held during this time were St. Peter's Day Fair, St. Bartholomew's Fair, and the St. Cuthbert's Day Fair. In India, the largest fair held in the country is called the Kumbh Mela. Celebrated every year, the fair was attended by more than 60 million people in January 2001, in an event that was the largest gathering of people in the world.

Similarities and Differences


  • A festive season that typically occurs just before the Lenten celebration
  • Generally celebrated with public displays and/or parades
  • May include elements of circuses, masquerades and street parties


  • An event in which people gather to display and/or trade produce and other goods
  • May run concurrently with carnivals or some other type of entertainment
  • The largest gathering of people ever recorded happened in India in January 2001 at the Hindu fair known as Maha Kumbh Mela

Which one do kids like better?
  • Carnival
  • Fair

Discuss It: comments 1

  • Guest
  • bobster lobster wrote on March 2019

um which one has rides?

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