It’s Party Time! Where to Catch Spain’s Top Carnival Celebrations

By the time February rolls around, you’re probably sick and tired of those cold, monotonous winter days. Spain gets it…that’s when Carnival season begins!

Carnival in Spain is a nationwide celebration, marked by vibrant, eccentric costumes and revelry in the streets. If you’re caught in one of Spain’s many cities or villages during Carnival, chances are you’ll see people young and old dressed as clowns, rock stars, farm animals, kings and queens, fruits…you name it! These crazy costumes are accompanied by live music, street performers, local artists selling goods, food, drinks and around-the-clock fun. The joyous festivities date all the way back to the Roman times. It is said that before the time of Lent, people would say goodbye to their daily pleasures by celebrating with friends and family with endless hours of drinking, eating and dancing. Throughout time, dictators have tried to put an end to the festivities. However, it’s quite apparent that nobody can take away the revelrous spirit of the Spanish people, as the festivities have grown more popular than ever in the last few decades! We’re here to help you decide where to go to catch the best fiestas throughout the country! Ready to embark on a week’s worth of fun? Here are Spain’s most famous Carnival celebrations:

Cadiz (February 23rd - March 5th)

In the far south of Andalusia, the coastal city of Cadiz hosts one of the most iconic celebrations in Spain. Spanish bands come from all over to perform comical songs marked by satire and humor. Did you know that the people of Cadiz have a reputation for being the most jolly and comedic people in Spain? It’s no wonder that their celebration is characterized by comedy; from satirical musicians competing for the prize of “funniest band” in the Gran Teatro Falla, to the big “Domingo de Piñata” Sunday parade, when the streets are flowing with outrageous costumes, satirical floats, and eccentric street acts.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands (February 1st - March 5th)

If you love admiring costumes marked by beauty and intricate detail, you will be swept off your feet with those of Santa Cruz de Tenerife‘s Carnival. One of the most important and impressive carnivals in the world, glitz and glamour fill the streets of Santa Cruz de Tenerife! The festivities are kicked off by the crowning of the queen on the Wednesday before Carnival weekend. The following Friday, the big parade takes place, comprised of four hours of vibrant floats, jaw-dropping costumes, and endless music. Then, Saturday is a day full of dance; dancing in the streets, dancing on stages, dancing in tents and dancing wherever you can find space! Finally, the activities culminate on Tuesday, the final party day before Ash Wednesday. Needless to say, it’s an exuberant celebration that cannot be missed!

Sitges (February 23rd - March 1st)

Another huge celebration is in Sitges, where 250,000 people from all over Europe gather for seven days of wild parties and colorful parades! This coastal city, only a 50 minute train ride from Barcelona, is the gay and lesbian capital of Spain and one of the most well-known throughout Europe. The gay community from all over Spain joins together for flamboyant, outrageous fun and around-the-clock partying! The exuberant festivities are kicked off on “Fat Thursday” aka Dijous Gras, with the presentation of the King of the Carnival, King Carnestoltes. Throughout the week, expect to see an extraordinary range of scandalous costumes, debauchery and DJ-hosted music.

While those might be the most famous, you can catch Carnival on a smaller scale all throughout the country! Other notable celebrations are in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria whose festivities take place right on the beach (February 10th - March 5th), or Aguilas in the region of Murcia, famous for its big egg battle (February 18th to March 11th).

We say that Spain’s Carnival is a festival that everyone must experience at least once in a lifetime…so don’t wait any longer! Which Carnival will you attend this year? Written by: Casie Tennin February 15, 2017

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