Carnival in Spain

Carnival is finally here so it is time to find the best costume to wear for your canival party and go out to enjoy the amazing parade.

Today, I am going to explain how Spanish people celebrate their carnival

Perhaps the most intensely celebrated Carnival event in Spain likely takes place in southern Spain and the Canary Islands. The largest carnival events are found in Cadiz, in Andalucia, and Tenerife, in the island of Las Palmas.

carnival in spainIt lasts for about ten days and has not an exact calendar day, every year it happens on a different week, but usually around February time.

The parades are amazing, lovely colorful costumes and lively loud music.

Of all the crazy Spanish events that take place throughout the year there is nothing more amazing than the Carnival celebrations in late February.

The week leading up to Lent is a time for wild partying in some parts of Spain when the country plays host to Europe’s biggest and best Carnival festivals.

In Spain, Carnival is celebrated nationwide, though the most raucous festivities are in the Canary Islands, Cadiz and Aguilas. While each town has its own unique flavour of celebrations, they all have a devotion towards having a good time. In these main places during carnival it seems that no one sleeps as the drinking and dancing go from dusk until dawn. You’ll see extravagant costumes and people in masks everywhere and, in any of Spain’s Carnivals, you’ll have a lot more fun participating in the masquerading than you will just watching.

carnival in spain

The Carnival in the Tenerife city of Santa Cruz is possibly the biggest party held in Europe. It is perhaps the most similar to the Carnival in Rio, with a strong emphasis on beauty pageants and contests of every sort. One of the first and most advertised events of the Carnival of Tenerife is the crowning of the Queen of Carnival.

Girls in outrageous, extraordinary costumes parade across the stage in dresses made of beads and satin and feathers, each one more flamboyant than the last.

Keep in mind that you need tickets for many of the competitions (a few others include a children’s Carnival Queen and traditional vintage car competition), but if you can’t get tickets that you can always head to the open air parties, called the ‘Mogollones’ by the locals. The celebrations take up whole chunks of the city and everyone is eager to have a good time and help you do the same!

Off the southern coast of Spain you’ll find a different sort of Carnival happening in Cadiz. While it’s definitely a match for the Carnival in Tenerife in terms of fun and over-the-top partying the Carnival in Cadiz is defined by its music. At any point in the crowded streets you’ll find musical groups stationed in plazas or in open air carts accompanied by guitars and lutes.

The majority of these songs are satirical; the people in Cadiz are known to have amongst the best senses of humour in Spain, and the music of Carnival reflects this. Politicians, clergy and celebrities are all cheerfully mocked and the costumes, while still extravagant, have a focus on cleverness and wit. You can find rock music at the Plaza Catedral and a competition for satirical group songs at the Gran Teatro Falla. Between street theatre and daily fireworks displays, the Carnival at Cadiz strives to entertain and succeeds in leaps and bounds.

carnival in spain

If you can’t make it to one of these fabulous parties not to worry, Spain has several other Carnivals that are definitely worth your time. In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria there are major celebrations centred on the Santa Catalina park with few events requiring tickets.

Madrid doesn’t have the wild parties of Tenerife or Cadiz but there are parades and fancy dress events culminating in the traditional Burial of the Sardine on Ash Wednesday. This marks the beginning of Lent when formally dressed “mourners” carry a cardboard sardine to “Fuente de los Pajarito” where it is buried in its coffin!

Events in Barcelona are fairly restrained where the return of Carnival is seen as recognition of the rights of the people of Catalonia after enduring a 40 year dictatorship under General Franco when such festivities were banned by the state.

No matter where you are in Spain, you can reach out and touch the Carnival spirit and let it touch you in return.

This year our carnaval, in Murcia and Aguilas, takes place between the 18th Feb to the 4th March. Although parades continue until Shrove Tuesday, the big day is Sunday, when the carnival groups (comparsas) present their new costumes. That same night is when the “peñas” or carnival groups open, carnival associations where for three days food, drink and good humour will be the order of the day.

The Saturday before Quinquagesima Sunday is the pregón, or proclamation, together with a paper costume competition. Also on the Saturday is the speech that takes place between Don Carnal (Mr Carnal) and Doña Cuaresma (Ms Lent), which ends, inevitably, in a battle of confetti-filled eggs.

For me, of course, if I have to choose I go for Murcia and Aguilas carnivals but they are all fun.

Anyway, I hope everybody enjoys reading my post, and again if you want to know about a different place in Spain, please just ask and I will do my best to write about it, finding the right information and translating it for you.

Always happy to help.

Thanks for reading it.

And, you all have a Happy Carnival 🙂


Maria Mh.


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