The Many Ways Spain Celebrates Carnival
The week leading up to Lent (February 14) sees some of the largest parties take place in Spain. It's one of the most vibrant and lively events in the Spanish calendar, where the streets are filled costumes, dancing and a fantastic celebratory atmosphere. Below are just a few places where carnival is celebrated throughout the country.
La Palma, Canary Islands
Although the smallest of the Canaries, carnival on La Palma is nothing short of extravagant. The carnival, which begins on February 12, showcases the influence Latin America has had on the island, starting with the Fiesta de Los Indianos. It is tradition to wear white clothing and parade through the cobbled streets whilst throwing talcum powder, before congregating in the Plaza de La Alameda, which is renamed Plaza Cubana throughout the celebrations, and is the centre of the party. The carnival has its history deep-rooted in the Latin America and Cuba, and is said to represent the riches the local men returned to the island with.
The home of the oldest carnival celebrations on mainland Spain, which date back to the 16th century, the coastal town of Cádiz spends nearly two weeks celebrating carnival between February 8 and 18. Influenced by Venice, an ancient trading partner, those partying in Cádiz paint their faces rather than wearing masks, and dressing up is mandatory. The emphasis is placed on wit and satire, and the many different musical groups, or Chirigotas perform and compete throughout the two weeks. Saturday 17 February is the biggest street party, followed by the main parade on Sunday where the floats are showcased and fireworks go all night to mark the end of the affair.
One of the largest carnival celebrations takes place over a week from February 8 in Sitges. Over the week there are many processions to celebrate the run up to Lent, starting with one of the largest parades on Shrove Tuesday – The Rua de la Dixbauxa, or Debauchery Parade. It boasts 40 floats and up to 2,000 people taking part, filling the streets with colour and music. The Rua de l’Extermini, or Extermination Parade, marks the end of the celebrations on February 14, followed by the ‘Burial of the Sardine’ where partygoers mourn the idea of not consuming sardines during Lent, with a barbecue on the beach.