Carnaval, as it’s known in Spanish, has the nation wrapped in fun during the week leading up to Lent. With Carnaval taking place in just about every town, it’s one of the liveliest events on the Spanish calendar. Expect fantastic fireworks, music, dancing, fancy – dress parades and parties in the streets.
If you’re all geared up for Carnaval this year (between 21 and 29 February), where should you head to?
First up, how about your local Carnaval in San Pedro Alcántara? Dubbed the Marbella Carnival (Carnaval de Marbella), it covers four different districts of Marbella: San Pedro, Nueva Andalucía, Las Chapas and Marbella town centre.
The streets burst into fun and frivolity with a full line-up of competitions and events. Both adults and children love to take part in fancy-dress competitions running alongside the music, processions, fireworks and street stalls. If you’d like to take part – after all, when in Spain, do as the locals do – you will find your perfect costume at major supermarkets like Carrefour and Eroski, or in the smaller clothes shops and flamenco stores.
Other major carnivals include the biggest in Spain, hosted in the city of Cádiz. Here, it’s less about glittering costumes and elaborate floats and more about humorous, satirical songs relating to public people and events. At least ten thousand people are expected to pack the streets for the initial procession on the first Sunday of Canaval.
Barcelona, though smaller, holds several different celebrations in each of its districts, with schools, clubs and organisations dressing up in themed costumes to parade through the streets. Head for the biggest venue at El Born with its drag queen horse-and-carriage parade and live concerts. The area also hosts La Taronjada (Battle of the Oranges) using orange balloons and confetti for ammunition.
Madrid’s version is a mix between the Venice Carnival, with its elaborate masks, and Cádiz, with its satirical songs. Don’t miss the Parade of Buffoons, featuring Venetian outfits, jesters and traditional costumes from around the world. The carnival culminates in the Burial of the Sardine (Entierro de la Sardina), like in Tenerife, when a symbolic representation of a sardine is buried – echoing the masterpiece by the famous Spanish painter, Francisco Goya.