How to plan a carnival event like a pro

If you own or work at any type of venue where events can be hosted, it’s most likely that time of the year when you’re in the middle of a frenzy. You must be wondering how to plan a carnival event successfully. Or, you’re already in the planning process and want to make sure you’re getting everything right. Read on below for our guidelines to organizing a successful carnival event.

When to host a Carnival event in 2019

At Metooo, we’re Italian, so the Carnival (Carnevale) is a big deal for us. But Carnival is a festive period that is present in many parts of the world, usually beginning in the second half of February and ending on or around Mardi Gras which this year falls on March 5. Let’s see below the dates of the most important Carnival celebrations around the world:

  • Italian Carnevale in 2019 lasts between February 28 and March 5, the dates of the festivities vary between various cities and towns
  • the Venice Carnival takes place in the context of the Italian Carnevale but lasts even longer: in 2019 it starts on February 16th and ends on March 5th
  • the Rio de Janeiro Carnival takes place between March 1st and March 9th 2019
  • Mardi Gras festivities and parades in New Orleans start on February 9th and end on March 5th

So if your event will be inspired by one of these Carnivals, these are the dates to keep in mind.

Carnival event ideas for various types of venues

Your type of venue and the amount of indoor and outdoor space you have at your disposal will of course influence the type of carnival event you can organize. Here are some ideas:

  • restaurant. You can host a gala masquerade dinner, along with a costume contest. You could even host a masquerade ball. In this case you would have to have enough space or to rearrange or reduce the number of tables to create more space. The ball would include: a dinner, a music show and dancing.
  • hotel. Many kinds of events can be hosted in a hotel, and if your hotel has a ballroom or a reception room, a masquerade ball is an absolute must. If your budget allows it, you can also organize a float parade starting in a piazza within your city/town and ending at your hotel.
  • villa/wedding venue. A Carnival themed ball or costume party will definitely compliment your venue and add extra revenue since we’re outside of the wedding season. If your venue has a yard or a garden, take advantage of the outdoor space. You can set up a float exhibition and/or vendor booths with seasonal or carnival-inspired foods and drinks.
  • pub or club. Here the choice is quite obvious, you can host an amazing costume party!

How to make your Carnival event more engaging

Here are some ideas of activities that will make your guests feel that they are part of an extraordinary experience and want to attend the event again next year.

Prizes and generosity – a sure win!

  • a costume contest. Set up a costume contest and award prizes for the most beautiful costumes. This will motivate people to really put effort into their costumes and will increase the chances that the atmosphere at the event is as spectacular as possible. There is nothing more saddening than an event with a dress-code where people don’t actually respect the dress-code! To stimulate your guests to participate, partner with sponsors to offer exciting and substantial prizes like weekend trips, spa days, or gift cards to stores. When setting up your event website, make sure you include in the event description some ideas of where guests can rent or buy their costumes.
  • a fundraiser. Give a charitable dimension to your Carnival event by donating part of the revenue to a humanitarian cause. You can do this in several ways. For example, you can advertise that part of the regular ticket price will go to the cause. Or, you can set up an open donation ticket. If you set up your event on Metooo, you can create various types of tickets among which the open donation ticket. Or, you can host a raffle in which prizes are donated by sponsors, and revenue from tickets that guests purchase for the raffle goes to the fundraiser.


  • special edition Carnival drinks. Have your bartender create some signature drinks, the more colorful and exotic, the better.
  • a photo booth. Set up a photo booth and encourage your guests to take pictures together wearing their costumes and post them on social media (since you’re at it, create an official hashtag for the event and make it visible at the photo booth). If your event website is set up on Metooo, you can also encourage guests to post the photos they took at the photo booth, directly on the event’s public wall, through the Storytelling feature.
  • a theater play. Hire a troupe of actors and set up a theatrical moment during the event. It will be even more fun if the theme of the play and the costumes of the actors are related to the carnival theme. And if your budget doesn’t allow for a full troupe, how about a costumed stand-up comedian?
  • entertainers. The type of entertainer you choose needs to be coherent with the theme of your event, and the options are endless. Some examples: a magician, a fortune teller or tarot card reader, tattoo artists, movie characters, face painters, mimes, clowns.

Technicalities to keep in mind for a carnival event

  • A/V and lights equipment. Your venue most likely already has the basic equipment but, based on the entertainment you hire, you may need to rent extra. Plan this aspect at least 1 month in advance. Put special effort into extra lighting: a lighting show can dramatically change the atmosphere and create that magical vibe that will make your event spectacular.
  • Permits. If you host contests or raffles, depending on the type of prizes, you might need a permit. Check out this aspect with your local authorities before you insert the contests into the schedule.
  • Check-in.The way you welcome your guests is of utter importance in any event, but we’re still in winter, and no-one likes to wait in the cold wearing a costume in an endless queue to get their tickets checked. If your event is set up on Metooo, you can scan tickets within seconds for each guest, and they don’t even need to be printed. Check-in is done directly from your staff’s mobile devices by scanning the QR codes on the tickets, even from the screen of a smartphone, through our Event Plan app.
  • Security. A well thought security plan must be set in place, with enough trained staff to cover your venue. An event that involves costumes and a bunch of people having fun (with alcohol too) can very quickly transform into a confusional mess. Also, make sure that emergency exists are well signaled.

These were our tips for planning a carnival event that is bound to success. We hope that this article inspired you and we conclude with an example of such an event that was one of the most successful on our platform last year: The Eighteen Century Neapolitan Carnival. The planners of this event got the Carnival spirit right!

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