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This past weekend, my family had the pleasure of attending a wonderful event at Carowinds. And that event is the Grand Carnivale!
Grand Carnivale is a fun event reminiscent of events like Carnivale and Mardi Gras. You’ll see characters in costume walk throughout the park, and they’ll pose for your picture or take pictures with you.
It really adds to the fun party-like atmosphere.
The festival also has a real international flavor. I love all the international decor throughout the park.
The event takes place at night from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. It takes place each night except for Tuesday. The event started last weekend and will run through July 9, 2023.
The Spectacle of Color Parade
This lively parade features gorgeous costumes, lavish floats, upbeat music, street performers, and none other than the Grand Carnivale King and Queen! At various points during the parade route, the procession will stop so that the audience can join the performers in singing and dancing.
Speaking of the parade route, the parade starts at the Carolina Harbour entrance inside the park, travels through the North Carolina side of the park, and ends around Celebration Plaza near the Carowinds entrance.
The Royal Opening Ceremony
The event begins with music, The King and Queen of Grand Carnivale, and their Royal Court.
The Grand Showcase
Throughout each night, you can enjoy some great performances by the Royal Court throughout the evening for a showcase of captivating performances where you’ll experience the sound, the pulse, and the mystery of Carnivale in breath-taking, unexpected ways!
Retrospect is one of my favorite parts of this festival. The entertainment is just so wonderful. I really liked the drums and the song and dance production. They play a lot of good music from the past and the present.
The Royal Send-off
At the end of the parade is the final party. You’ll get to join the Carnivale King and Queen (as well as their court, of course) for high-energy music and dancing in the Carowinds streets.
Flavors of Carnivale International Food Festival
But perhaps my favorite part of this festival is the food (and drinks!). They have wonderful international cuisine stations all over the park. There are five different sections themed to five different countries: China, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Each different section has three different delicious food item that fits each country’s cuisine. This is a wonderful way to try new foods or eat some of your favorite foreign dishes.
And Carowinds makes it easier for you to do this by providing a Taste Your Way Around the World Card.
You can purchase one and then get either 6 or 10 food tastings of your choice. This saves you money if you want to try multiple dishes.
And I think you will want to. My family certainly did. Let me tell you about each country’s menu. I have even reviewed a couple of the food stations, too.
We really loved the France market and reviewed the French food here.
Here’s the menu:
- Crepe Champignon: Thin crepe filled with gruyere, shallots, herbs de Provence, and a wild mushroom sauce
- Croque Monsieur: A toasted brioche sandwich with hardwood smoked pit ham, bechamel sauce, Brie cheese & fresh thyme
- Pain au Chocolate: Chocolate wrapped in flaky dough and topped off with powdered sugar
Germany is one of my family’s favorites; you can read our review here.
Here’s the menu:
- Sauerbraten Slider: Slow-roasted, marinated beef on buttered slider buns with red cabbage, gingersnap sauce, pickle, and tomato
- Apfelstrudel: Traditional apple strudel with a buttery pastry, powdered sugar and whipped cream
- Pretzel Bites: Baked pretzel bites with a bock-style beer cheese sauce
The menu here is:
- Bang-Bang Chicken: Skewered chicken tossed in a spicy peanut sauce with scallions
- Mongolian Beef: Double cooked beef in a ginger-soy sauce with carrots and scallions, served over rice
- Sesame Balls: Dough filled with raspberry preserves, dusted with sesame seeds and lightly fried
You can get these food at Italy:
- Panzerotti: Golden brown dough filled with ricotta, provolone, spinach, tomato & fresh basil served with Marinara
- Caprese Fresca: Traditional salad from Capri with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil & balsamic glaze, served with pita chips
- Krapfen di Carnevale: Berry and cream-filled doughnut dusted with powdered sugar
The menu here is:
- Paella: Classic saffron rice with shrimp, sausage, chicken, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes & peas
- Vegetable Empanada: Potatoes, butternut squash & cheese in fried pastries, served with saffron & garlic mayonnaise
- Natillas de Leche: Vanilla custard infused with lemon and dusted with cinnamon
But they’re not going to serve food without drinks, right? And there are a lot of great drinks at this festival. If you are 21 years old and older, you can order signature cocktails and mocktails. You can even order the signature cocktails in a special souvenir pilsner and you can order Mocktail in a special color-changing pilsner. You can get your Mocktails at any Grand Carnivale Food & Beverage station. The cocktails are available at Carnivale Concoctions.
Here are the signature cocktails you can order:
- Carnivale Cocktail: Tropical flavors paired with passion fruit, cherry, and white wine
- Raspberry Beret: Hints of lavender, lemon & lemongrass combined with sweet red wine & Minute Maid lemonade and then topped with an edible violet bloom
- Orange Blossom: White wine paired with flavors of orange, lemon & cherry
- Peach Bellini Spritzer: A spin on an Italian classic with Prosecco sparkling wine, peach puree & citrus garnished with a Chianti-soaked peach
- Sangria: A Spanish classic drink with a red wine base and infused with seasonal fruit
Here are the signature mocktails you can order:
- Very Berry Party Punch: Summer wild berries & Minute Maid lemonade topped off with Sprite & garnished with raspberries & a fresh strawberry
- Triple Glitter Jam: Glistening & shimmering wildberry, blueberry & raspberry flavors combined with Minute Maid lemonade & garnished with glittered raspberry jam
More Things to Do
At the crafts table, you’ll have the option to work on an arts and crafts project, creating one of the following:
- Royal crown
- Flowering lei
Grand Carnivale Games
Enjoy fun, internationally-themed midway games at Mardi’s Games Gallery! Please note that these games do require an additional charge.
Mardi’s Games Gallery has a lot of fun games, like the Indian-themed Shakti Tower.
Or how about the France-themed Eiffel Tower Ring Toss?
Or this Firework Bang game, a Japanese-themed game where you can even get Hello Kitty dolls as a prize.
Mardi’s QR Passport to Adventure
Pick up a Passport to Adventure (you can get one at Carnivale Central) and then scan the QR codes in each country. You’ll get to learn more about each country, earn stamps, and take pictures with Mardi’s friends – Mardi being, of course, Mardi P. Gras, the Alligator King of the Carnivale. Finish your adventure to earn a grand prize.
Discounted Carowinds Tickets
Admission to Grand Carnivale is included in the cost of your Carowinds tickets. And if you don’t have tickets yet, then I have good news for you. There is a great coupon for Carowinds available here. You can save up to $38 per ticket! So go ahead and buy your ticket and enjoy this great festival before it ends!