The cold continues and towns can still be quiet, unless Carnival is being celebrated. Carnival can happen anywhere between late January and early March, depending on when Easter falls.

Carnivals, Croatia

Carnival is a big deal in parts of Croatia, with the Rijeka Carnival the most salubrious of them all. Over two weeks, pageants, street dances, concerts, masked balls, exhibitions and parades happen.

Strumica Carnival, Macedonia

Drawing several thousand visitors from Macedonia and elsewhere, the carnival involves five days of drinking, debauchery and costumed merry-making.

Kurentovanje, Slovenia

A procession of hairy masks, bell-ringing and the occasional wry slap form the dramatic rites of spring in Ptuj for Kurentovanje (www.kurentovanje.net), Slovenia's most distinctive Mardi Gras festival.

Mimosa Festival, Montenegro

Herceg Novi gets a jump on spring with this February festival, which has been held since the Flower Power era of the late 1960s. Expect concerts, sports events, majorettes and lots of yellow blooms.