Carnivals

What are the best carnivals in Spain?

Hola, my friends from across the globe! Come, let me whisk you away on a captivating journey through my country’s vibrant and flamboyant celebrations – Carnivals in Spain! As the last hurrah before the solemn 40 days of Lent, carnivals are a cherished tradition, and Spain does it like no other.

Our lively carnival culture, bursting with masquerades, parades, and confetti, is deeply rooted in our history. Let me take you back to the 15th century when the Italians, our spirited neighbours, brought with them the sparkle of their grand Venetian carnivals to Cadiz, Andalucia. Despite various attempts to curb these ebullient celebrations from the 17th to 19th centuries, the carnival spirit persevered, even surviving General Franco’s ban in 1938. Our love for this festival simply couldn’t be quelled!

A typical carnival in Spain commences with a local celebrity setting the celebratory tone with an opening speech. What follows is a mesmerising spectacle of parades, costumes, and street theatre, culminating on Ash Wednesday with the symbolic ‘Entierro de la Sardina’ (Burial of the Sardine) – a tradition signifying the end of worldly pleasures and the onset of Lent. Yet, our diverse regions add their unique flairs to these festivities.

Now, let me take you through some of my personal favourites.

The carnival in Cadiz, Andalucia is a fusion of rhythm and rib-tickling humour. A splendid display of music in all forms echoes through the city squares. Amidst the parades, the passionate musicians, choirs, quartets, and ‘chirigotas’ engage the crowd with satirical songs. Visit this vibrant festival and revel in the locals’ dedication to humour and a carefree attitude.

Over to the Canary Islands, the Santa Cruz carnival in Tenerife is a glamorous spectacle to behold. Often compared to the extravagant Rio de Janeiro carnival, its lively parades and vibrant costumed performers can leave you awestruck. Following this grand celebration, smaller towns across the island continue the carnival spirit with their unique festivities.

Then, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the carnival comes alive on the beach itself! It strikes a delightful balance between the rhythms of Tenerife and the quirky themes of Cadiz, with body painting adding a distinctive touch. This carnival is a brilliant alternative if you’re unable to attend the larger festivals.

La Palma, another Canary island, hosts a quirky carnival known as los indianos. With Caribbean beats in the backdrop, participants dressed in white shower each other with talcum powder, a sight that’s both amusing and memorable!

Traveling up north to Catalonia, Sitges hosts an extravagant carnival. Its essence is transformation, where everyone disguises themselves to become a new persona. The bustling town has a carnival as vibrant as its people, featuring glamorous drag shows and an uninhibited, wild party atmosphere.

In Aguilas, Murcia, a parade of over 4,000 performers in vibrant costumes takes center stage. Unique traditions like the confetti-filled eggshell battles and the consumption of ‘cuerva’ – a magical potion of wine and fruits – add to the festivity.

In Laza, Galicia, where the carnival or ‘Entroido’ is a community affair, traditional ‘Peliqueiros’ costumes and masks add a dash of mystique. Their unique ‘Testamento do Burro‘ show is a satirical narration of the town’s happenings from the past year, which is both entertaining and insightful.

The ‘Antroxu’ or carnival in Avilés, Asturias, once known for its mythological characters, now hosts an exciting event – the ‘Descenso Internacional y Fluvial de la Calle de Galiana.’ Picture this: floats adorned with naval motifs traversing a street filled with water and foam!

Lastly, Barcelona may not be renowned for its carnivals, but it has been striving to recreate historical carnivals from the bygone era. Perfect for families, its traditional carnival is a pleasant break from the city’s fast-paced life.

To truly experience Spain, immerse yourself in these vibrant carnivals that reflect the essence of our culture and people. It’s not just about the celebration; it’s a journey into our history, customs, and the unbeatable Spanish spirit! Happy travels, my friends. Viva el Carnaval!

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Carlos

¡Hola! Yo soy Carlos, a proud member of the LGBT community and a resident of Spain. I always look forward to attending Pride events in Alicante and Benidorm and writing about them here on Spain Uncovered.
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