The week leading up to Lent is Spain’s prime time for partying, when the country plays host to Europe’s biggest and best Carnival celebrations. Of all the fiestas throughout the year, nothing compares to Spain’s ‘Carnavales’, taking place this year from late February into early March.

This week sees the kick off of Spanish Carnival celebrations all over the country. Each town has its own unique flavour of celebration and is awash with extravagant masks, costumes, parades, floats and accompanied day and night by music, food, drink and general merriment.

Spain’s biggest Carnival takes place in Tenerife, from 19 February to 5 March. With a strong emphasis on glamour and flamboyance, revellers can enjoy a string of lively beauty pageants and contests. One of the most publicised events is the crowning of the Carnival Queen, where women in costumes parade in colourful costumes made of beads, satin and feathers.

The Carnival in Cadiz, which takes place from 23 February to 5 March, is defined primarily by its music. At any point in the city’s streets you will find musicians playing in plazas or open air theatres. Satirical songs are often sung about Spain’s politicians, clergy and celebrities.

Águilas Carnival (18 February to 4 March), in the Murcia region, is one of the most famous in Spain. Held since the 19th century it has four representative characters; La Musa (Carnival Queen), Doña Cuaresma, Don Carnal and Mussona. 26 February sees a grand parade take place, which continues with daily parades the following week and concludes with the burning of Don Carnal.

For a short break or long weekend full of fun, frolics and fancy dress and with festivities lasting until 5 March, head to Spain to join this year’s Carnival celebrations.

If you can’t make it out for Carnival, Spain is a top destination for festivals throughout the year, with some of the biggest internationally renowned events enjoyed by locals and visitors alike:

  • Las Fallas, Valencia – March
  • Moros y Cristianos, Valencia - April
  • Holy Week (Semana Santa) and the Feria de Abril, Seville – April
  • Night of San Juan, Valencia region – June
  • Sonar Festival, Barcelona - June
  • World Pride Madrid, June & July
  • Running of the Bulls (San Fermines), Pamplona – July
  • Benicassim Festival, Valencia - July
  • La Tomatina, Buñol – August