Do you know the Carnival in Spain?

Do you know what Carnival is like?

Which are the most famous?

How are they celebrated?

Well don’t worry, in today’s article I’ll talk about Carnival in Spain. We will see its origins, the days that you cannot miss and some of the most interesting Carnivals.

Let’s start!!

Carnaval en España
Carnaval. (Pixabay)

Origins of Carnival in Spain:

Carnival has been celebrated in Spain since the Middle Ages but has much older origins, probably its origin dates back to the Roman pagan festivals in honor of the god Bacchus, the Roman god of chaos, partying and wine.

Despite these pagan origins, it is a festival closely related to the Catholic religion, as it is celebrated just before Catholic Lent, which is when people of the Catholic religion prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The date of celebration varies depending on the beginning of Lent, it is usually about forty days before Easter, so we can celebrate Carnival in Spain between February and March.

In many cultures they celebrate the end of winter and the arrival of spring.

Carnaval de Venecia
Carnaval de Venecia. Máscara (Pixabay)

Important days of the Carnival:

Carnival is not an exclusively Spanish party, there are well-known carnivals such as the Venice Carnival in Italy or the Rio de Janeiro Carnival in Brazil. Although they have differences, they all have something in common: it is a time when people dress up, sing, dance, drink and eat: it is a time of fun and… a certain lack of control.

But we are going to focus on how Carnival is celebrated in Spain. Normally they usually last between 4 and 11 days depending on the importance of this festival in the city that is celebrated.

There are important moments:

  • Proclamation of the Carnival, it is the beginning of the party and it is usually Thursday in Laredo.
  • Parade of costumes and groups. In every city there is one or more days dedicated to people showing their creativity and ingenuity with costumes. Many times these are usually low cost and with a lot of imagination. And where there are musical group contests, there are also special days for them, including contests inside and outside the official program.
  • Last day of Carnival, in cities where this festival is not very popular, it is usually the following Tuesday, some kind of representation is usually made indicating that Carnival ends and Lent begins before Easter.

In addition to these days, each Carnival in Spain has its own customs, it is impossible to list them, many of these parties even have official activities included in a program where anyone can find out about when and what is celebrated, but they also have other unofficial activities, they are those that are celebrated in clubs, associations and are not collected by the City Councils.

Cartel de Carnaval Cádiz 2020
Cartel del Carnaval de Cádiz 2020

Three Carnivals in Spain that you cannot miss:

As I have told you before, it is impossible to list the different customs of each city, so we are going to focus on some of the best-known Carnivals in our country, such as the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Cádiz and Águilas in Murcia. , all named by the Spanish Government as Festivals of International Tourist Interest

The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife:

Undoubtedly the most international Carnival in Spain, it is twinned with that of Rio de Janeiro and they have many similar things.

It will be the weather!

The carnival has two parts: the official Carnival where official acts, contests and parades are held and, on the other hand, the street carnival, where all citizens and visitors enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Tenerife Carnival begins with the election of its queen on the Wednesday before the festivities begin. It is a festival full of color and music, with groups such as the murga, comparsas and rondallas that will delight all visitors to the city this week.

The most important days are Carnival Saturday (it is the day of the dances in the streets), Monday (when group contests are held throughout the city) and the last day, called El Gran Coso Apoteosis, in the that the parade of floats or cavalcade takes place.

Ash Wednesday is the last day of the festival, and the first day of Lent. What is called the burial of the sardine is celebrated here: the streets of Tenerife dress in mourning to accompany the giant cardboard sardine until it is burned.

Carnaval de Tenerife
Comparsa Carnaval de Tenerife (

The Cadiz Carnival:

Cádiz is the oldest inhabited city in the West, and its festivals have ancient traditions. Carnival is a festival deeply rooted in the city and nearby towns.

Although it has many similarities with the Carnival of Tenerife, it has its own characteristics that make this festival well known among the Spanish.

This Carnival begins unofficially, just after Los Reyes Magos, when the bristling is celebrated: a popular festival where people are given to taste the hedgehogs (ostiones), a typical mollusk of the area.

As of this date, the Carnival Groups contest also begins at the Gran Teatro Falla. The groups, depending on the number of members, are called Coros, comparsas, chirigotas or cuartetos and perform a satire on the country’s current affairs in the last year.

The day the carnival begins is the Proclamation of Carnival on Thursday in Laredo, but it is not until the Grand Final of the Falla, the following day, when the people of Cadiz take to the streets for 11 days. These days you will be able to enjoy the grace of legal groups (which have sung in the contest) or illegal ones, around the city of Cadiz.

Throughout the city there are different group competitions in the clubs, they can be; gastronomic events, parades, carousels… The best known are those of Coros in the city’s Plaza de Abastos on the two Sundays of Carnival.

The best way to not miss anything is to go to the official pages and consult these events or follow your favorite group on social networks to find out which street or corner they will be singing on.

Because the Carnival of Cádiz is lived in the street!

In addition to the proclamation and the final of the Falla, you cannot miss the parades on Sunday afternoons and to end the last day, Piñata Sunday, the burning of the Piti Witch on the Caleta beach.

Carrusel de coros (

Águilas Carnival

It is another of the best known Carnivals in Spain. Like the previous ones, it is a party full of color, contests and parades throughout the city. The main days of this celebration are Sunday, Tuesday and Friday of Carnival, and the following weekend of Piñata.

One of the characteristics of this carnival are the shells of confetti, some eggs filled with colored pieces of paper that are thrown and the cuerva (a typical drink based on wine and fruit) that is said to awaken the carnival spirit of those who drink it.

In recent years there have been costume contests made of paper.

Carnaval de Águilas
La Batalla entre Don Carnal y Doña Cuaresma (

Other curious Carnivals in Spain:

In addition to these well-known Carnivals, there are also other places with very curious traditions. Do you want to meet them?

Lantz Carnival (Navarra)

Lantz is a small town located 25 kilometers from Pamplona. Every Shrove Tuesday they celebrate the arrest, trial and death at the stake of an evil bandit named Miel Otxin. The character is represented by a doll more than three meters high and is accompanied by other characters Ziripot, the horse Zaldiko, all of them dressed in brightly colored clothes and fur. Be careful because they beat everyone who passes by with sticks and brooms!

Verin Carnival (Ourense)

The Entroido de Verín is a town 70 kilometers south of Orense and they hold the Cigarrones parade. For the locals it is an honor to be a Cigarrón and it is a tradition that is passed down from father to son. The Cigarrones are dressed in colorful clothes and with cowbells. They also wear an ornate wooden mask and each one has an animal painted on it. Don’t worry, it’s not very scary.

This Carnival is one of the oldest in Galicia.

Pontevedra Carnival

Also in Galicia we find a rather curious tradition. In Pontevedra the protagonist is a Parrot, El Loro Ravanchol. The real story of this parrot is remembered, he was the pet of a pharmacist who was very foul-mouthed and rude and died in the Carnival of 1913. Then he was buried with great honors. Since 1985 this figure has been recovered and the representation of his burial is currently being performed. The inhabitants of Pontevedra are dressed in mourning accompanying the Parrot and it is one of the main days of these festivities.

North Carnival (Cantabria)

It is celebrated in Santoña, and they call it the Sailor Carnival since its protagonist is a huge sea bream that is judged by the fishermen’s brotherhood. He is condemned in the Trial of the Bottom of the Sea and buried on the day of the Burial of the Sea Bream, in a solemn feast. A parade is held that accompanies it with musical groups, murgas and comparsas, dressed as fish.

Carnaval de Lantz
Carnaval de Verín
Carnaval de Verín
Carnaval de Pontevedra
Carnaval de Pontevedra
Carnaval del Norte

Did you know some of these Carnivals?

What Carnival would you like to meet?

Is Carnival celebrated in your city or country?

Tell me in comments what you thought, or how it is celebrated in your city.

Carnival in Spain

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