If you have an annual festival going on in your neighborhood that involves live music, street vendors, and games, you could call that a carnival.

The word carnival originally referred to a public festival involving general merriment and feasting, often taking place on the street and frequently associated with a religious holiday. Later the word’s meaning broadened to refer to a traveling show that offers similar activities, like a winter carnival or a fair. Nowadays the word carnival is also used figuratively to refer to something characterized by raucous disorder. If, for example, your coworkers ended up heckling your CEO at a company meeting, you could describe the scene as a carnival (although you would most likely NOT see any cotton candy in the board room).

Definitions of carnival

n a traveling show; having sideshows and rides and games of skill etc.

fair, funfair
Type of:
the act of publicly exhibiting or entertaining

n a festival marked by merrymaking and processions

Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras
a carnival held in some countries on Shrove Tuesday (the last day before Lent) but especially in New Orleans
Type of:
festival, fete
an organized series of acts and performances (usually in one place)

n a frenetic disorganized (and often comic) disturbance suggestive of a large public entertainment

“the whole occasion had a carnival atmosphere”
Type of:
the act of disturbing something or someone; setting something in motion

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