In the days before Lent, Spain goes wild as it celebrates Carnival or Carnaval in Spanish. One of the biggest spectacles of the year, Carnaval is a display of rhythm, colour, flamboyance and luxury during which locals and visitors come together to let their hair down and enjoy the celebrations.

Experiencing a Spanish carnival should be a must-have bucket list item and to make travellers lives easier, the Spanish Tourist Office lists the best of Spain’s Carnaval celebrations from all corners of the nation.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands

The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is said to be second only to Rio de Janeiro in terms of popularity. Visitors travel from all over the world to experience the celebrations on the streets of Tenerife’s capital. This year the Carnival will begin on 19 February and run until 01 March 2020. The theme for 2020, as chosen by popular vote online, is The Coquette '50s. Expect extravagant costumes and giant floats parading through Santa Cruz. One of the main events in the Carnival will be happening on Wednesday 19 February, the election of the Carnival Queen. Visitors should not miss all the contestants parading on a huge stage doing their upmost to win the attention of the judges. The next big event in the calendar is the Big Parade through Santa Cruz de Tenerife on Friday 29 February.

Cadiz, Andalucía

Dating back to the 16th century, the carnival celebrations taking place in the coastal town of Cádiz are the oldest on mainland Spain, taking place between Thursday 20 February and Sunday 1 March. Influenced by the city of 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 29 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.

Sitges, Catalonia

The city of Sitges in Catalonia, plays host to one of the largest carnival celebrations from 20 February until 26 February 2020, welcoming thousands of visitors every year. Over the course of 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 25 February, followed by the ‘Burial of the Sardine’ where partygoers mourn the idea of not consuming sardines during Lent, with a barbecue on the beach.

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia

The historic city of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia northern Spain, preserves the ancient tradition of carnival or O Antroiodo in Galician with festivities taking place from Saturday 22 February until Wednesday 26 February 2020. On the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday the first parade brings the city to life with brass bands, dancers, jugglers and actors who perform on the floats. On Ash Wednesday itself the second parade sees colourful dancers wind their way through the streets before finishing in the Plaza de O Toural square where the ceremony of burning a Meco doll takes place. The burning of the Meco doll is a satirical procession, which symbolises the end of the carnival festivities and the beginning of Lent.


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For more information on Santiago de Compostela as a visitor destination, please visit

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