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15 Best Carnivals in Spain

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Spain is known for its incredible Carnival celebrations, which attract thousands of tourists from all over the world to the different cities and localities in Spain. Although carnival is a national celebration in common, some carnivals in the territory are mysterious and archaic, while others are colorful and modern.

We accompany you to know everything about the 15 best Carnivals in Spain.

15. Bielsa Carnival

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Bielsa is located in the comarca of Sobrarbe in the province of Huesca in Aragon. Although there are no official records of when the carnival originated, it is believed to be from a remote and ancient time due to the nature of the characters that make up the festivities. The Carnival of Bielsa is possibly one of the most mysterious and archaic in all of Spain, full of mysterious and primitive characters.

 

The Madamas are accompanied by the trangas in the carnival of Bielsa

The Madamas are accompanied by the trangas in the carnival of Bielsa

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Some of the main characters is the Trangas, half-man, half-animal costume. However, other characters such as the Madamas and L’onso and the tamer are also found. The Madamas are the female counterpart of the Tragas, while L’onso and the tamer, the onso representing the souls of the underworld and the tamer who controls them. These characters roam the streets at carnival time, performing presentations, rioting the spectators or dancing. In addition, on the last day of carnival, the burning of Cornelio Zorrilla, an effigy representing winter, takes place.

The Carnival of Bielsa takes place according to the traditional calendar of the carnival, between February and March. The carnival of Bielsa will take place approximately from February 11 to 14.

 

 

14. Carnival of Vinaroz

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The town of Vinaroz is located in the north of the province of Castello, located in the Comunidad Valenciana. The first time reference was made to the carnival in Vinaroz was in the year 1871, when a masked ball was held. The luxurious galas, parades and Carnival Queens are the elements that stand out in this celebration. In addition, during the celebration, the character known as Rey Carnestoltes walks the streets and schools to welcome the festivities.

 

The galas and festivals in Vinaroz are the most outstanding activities in the town. However, during the carnival season there are also contests, community paellas, musical performances, charangas, night parties, exhibitions and guided tours.

 

The Vinaroz Carnival takes place during the traditional carnival season, being held between the months of February and March. TheVinaroz Carnival will take place from approximately February 6 to 14.

 

 

13. Mundaca Carnival

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The Carnival takes place in the municipality Mundaca, province Vizcaya, in the Autonomous Community Basque Country. Although it is unknown when the first carnival was celebrated in Mundaca, there is a document in which an authorization is requested to hold street parties in the year 1841. In addition, the carnivals at that date were known as Aratustes..

 

Mundaca Carnivals are quite peculiar festivities. During the carnival season, the municipality does not have ostentatious and colorful dresses or costumes, but two extremely particular characters: Atorrak and Lamiak. Los Atorras, are exclusively male characters who dress completely in white and with a colorful scarf.  The Lamias are exclusively female characters completely dressed in black, white face and the contours of the eyes painted black.

During Carnival, both groups parade through Mundaca on separate streets and at separate times, first the men and then the women. As they parade, they play music andsing in unison. Once each parade is over, the groups meet alone and during the night, they all gather to sing again in the squares and streets.

Despite being a completely different celebration from what we are used to seeing, Carnival takes place on the traditional holiday calendar. Mundaca Carnival is usually celebrated during the month of February.

 

 

12. Ibiza Carnival

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Isla de Ibiza is part of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is composed of 5 municipalities: San Juan, San Antonio, Santa Eulalia, San José and Ibiza City. Although the carnivals are held in each of these municipalities, the celebration occurs with much more force in the capital of the island, Ibiza or Ibiza Town.

 

The Ibiza Carnival is a fantastic and colorful celebration that is fully experienced in every corner of the island. Each of the municipalities celebrates the carnivals in its own way, but the parades, the comparsas and the dancers are definitely the common factor. The whole island is wrapped in a wonderful party atmosphere lasts the whole week of festivities. In addition, the outdoor concerts, thefood fairs and the communal paellas are definitely elements that can never be missed.

 

The comparsas at the Ibiza carnival create different choreographies for the parade

The comparsas at the Ibiza carnival create different choreographies for the parade

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Like many other carnival celebrations in Spain, the Ibiza carnival follows the conventional calendar of festivities.

 

 

11. Carnival of Ciudad Rodrigo

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Ciudad Rodrigo celebrates carnivals in an unusual way if one considers the original nature of thecarnestolendas. Ciudad Rodrigo Carnival links the carnival festivities with one of the oldest traditions in Spain: The bullfight. Ciudad Rodrigo is located in the Province of Salamanca in the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León.

Bullfighting was first recorded in the city in the year 1418. However, it was not until the 18th century that carnival festivities involving bullfights were clearly recorded. Since then, carnival has been celebrated continuously, even during the Civil War.

 

The carnival of Ciudad Rodrigo involves running and unrunning of the bulls

The carnival of Ciudad Rodrigo involves running and unrunning of the bulls

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The Carnival of Ciudad Rodrigo, also known as Carnival of the Bull celebrates the festival in two modalities: Street events and Bullfighting events. The street events include the opening bell, musical performances, charangas, some parades and celebrations in the streets of the city. Bullfighting events are activities strictly related to bullfighting, so there are running of the bulls on horseback and capeas.

Like many other celebrations in Spain, the Ciudad Rodrigo Carnival or Carnaval del Toro, is held between the months of February and March.

 

 

10. Carnival of Avilés

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Avilés carnival, also known as Antroxu, is held in the city of Avilés, located in Asturias. The carnivals in the city of Avilés are originallypagan festivals, which were festivals that lasted from the winter equinox to the spring equinox. In this way, they celebrated the birth of light and spring. Carnivals in Avilés came to a head during the Civil War and unfortunately, some of the traditions were lost over time.

 

One of the main attractions of the carnival in Avilés is the International and River Descent of Calle Galiana

One of the main attractions of the carnival in Avilés is the International and River Descent of Calle Galiana

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The Carnival in the city of Avilés is full of activities from beginning to end. During the festivities, there are bothstreet events, as well as in bars and restaurants, which compete with each other to have the best party atmosphere. In addition, there are also masked parades with mazcaritos and moxigangues. Music is also an important part of the festivities, with Murgas, charangas and fanfarrias all week long. The popular meals are also common during the dates.

The celebration takes place during the traditional calendar of carnivals. The Carnival of Avilés or Antroxu, will be held from approximately February 10 to 17.

 

 

9. Carnival of Laza and Verín

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The Carnivals of Laza and Verín are two particular and unique celebrations. Both are held in the province of Orense, each in its own localities. At present, there is no public documentation indicating when the first celebration was held or when the festivities or the characters originated. However, it is believed that the festivities arose as agricultural rituals.

 

The Peliqueiros and Cigarrones are the main figures of the carnivals of Laza and Verín. They wear masks and miter

The Peliqueiros and Cigarrones are the main figures of the carnivals of Laza and Verín. They wear mascaras and mitre

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The main characters of the localities are the Peliqueiros and the Cigarrones. The Cigarrón is a characteristic character of Verín, while the Peliqueiro is from Laza. Both characters wear similar costumes; however, they can be distinguished due to some details in their colors and figures. In both carnivals, the characters go through the streets marching, running and performing different presentations. In addition, in both carnivals there are large parades with floats and the respective main characters of each locality.

The carnivals of Laza and Verín take place during the traditional carnival calendar; however, Verín’s carnival usually starts a few days earlier.

 

 

8. Barcelona Carnival

Barcelona is located in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, comarca of Barcelonés. The first records referring to the carnival in Barcelona date back to 1333, which were issued by the city council. This document was an order prohibiting the throwing of oranges as a mode of celebration and limiting the use of masks on some occasions. Like many other carnival celebrations, they were censored, while the authorities began to civilize the festivities to integrate events such as dances and royal court elections.

 

The Barcelona Carnival is a great conglomeration of celebrations

The Barcelona Carnival is a great conglomeration of celebrations

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Barcelona Carnival, also known as Carnestoltes, is more of a conglomerate of celebrations. Each town or sector has its own way of celebrating carnival. However, there are global events that involve the city as a whole. On Lardo Thursday, it is customary to perform a parade along the Rambla and eat some popular dishes such as paella, coca de llardons and butifarra. On Friday the King of the Carnival is received, while on Saturday Rúas are held in the neighborhoods. On Sunday there is the Taronjada, which consists of a war of oranges. The end of the festivities is marked on Wednesday Cinder Wednesday with the Burial of the Sardine.

Carnivals in the city of Barcelona take place between Maundy Thursday and Ash Wednesday.

 

 

7. Badajoz Carnival

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The city of Badajoz occupies one of the most colorful and special carnivals in Spain. The city is located in themunicipality of Badajoz, Autonomous Community of Extremadura. The first historical records of carnivals in the city date back to the 19th and 20th centuries. During these dates, dances and parades were the favorite activities during the festivities. Like many carnival festivals in Spain, the carnivals of Badajoz almost disappeared during the Franco dictatorship; however, once it was over, the carnivals flourished again. Currently, the Badajoz Carnival is declared a Fiesta de Interés Nacional.

Badajoz Carnival is full of celebrations from beginning to end. Murgas can be found all over the city, both in the streets and in private venues. In addition, there are also contests,children’s carnivals and popular foods. The main events are the night parties, where everyone has to be in costume and the Grand Parade, completely packed with dancers, comparsas and carrozas.

 

 

 

6. Carnival of Águilas

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Carnivals are held in the municipality of Águilas in the region of Murcia. The beginnings of the carnival in Águilas general some discussions, since there is photographic material of the festivities dating back to 1903. However, other sources point out that the carnival was already part of the carnival celebrations since the 18th century. Originally, the carnival was celebrated by throwing eggshells filled with confetti and burning dolls.

 

Today, the carnival of Águilas is one of the most representative carnivals of the entire region of Murcia. In addition, it is carried out in a somewhat particular way, as some theatrical presentations are performed to commemorate the carnival events. In addition, the city has the joy of possessing several characteristic characters during the carnival festivities. La Musa, Doña Cuaresma, Don Carnal and La Mussona are the main characters, which participate in various events and theatrical presentations. During the Carnival of Águilas, 3 large parades are held, in which a good number of comparsas, floats, dancers and traditional characters are incorporated.

The Águilas Carnival is a celebration that extends a little longer than usual, as it occupies approximately one month of events.

 

 

5. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival

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Carnival takes place in thecity of Palmas de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Isla Gran Canaria. Carnival has been present in the city since the 15th century. In the beginning, the carnival was strongly influenced by the Venetian-style carnivals. In addition, they were held in a family and neighborhood setting. During the censorship of the Franco dictatorship, the carnivals acquired the name “Fiestas de Invierno“. In this way, they managed to evade that the festivities were suppressed.

 

Las comparsas del Carnaval de las Palmas de Gran Canaria dress costumes of various colors

Las comparsas del Carnaval de las Palmas de Gran Canaria dress costumes of various colors

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The Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is one of the best known and most important celebrations in the whole country. In the city there is an incredible party atmosphere with music, dance, murgas, entertainment and parades. The Carnival of the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a space where people can express themselves openly and be who they really are. Among the events that stand out most in the festivities are the Drag Queen Show and the Gran Cabalgata with carrozas, dancers and comparsas..

Due to the COVID19 pandemic, the dates of the Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria have been moved, as these are normally set between the month of February and March. However, for the Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria a tentative date has been set for the next years, which includes a celebration from Friday, April 30 to Sunday, May 23.

 

 

 

4. Madrid Carnival

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The capital of the country celebrates one of the biggest and most festive carnivals in the whole country. The celebration has been present in the capital since ancient times. These festivals were mainly rituals or festivals that marked the seasons, mainly the arrival of spring. In the beginning, the carnival was a violent and wild party, not very well seen by the authorities or the church. However, in the 18th century, private dances began to proliferate in the city, generating a clear division between social classes.

 

Las comparsas o pasacalles atraviesan la ciudad durante los carnavales de Madrid

Las comparsas o pasacalles atraviesan la ciudad durante los carnavales de Madrid

 

The streets of the city of Madrid are completely filled with colors, dances, costumes and music to commemorate one of the happiest seasons of the year. Although each sector has its own characteristic celebrations, there are events that encompass and incorporate the entire community. The main events of the carnivals are obviously the Grand Carnival Parade and the Burial of the Sardine. The Grand Carnival Parade is a large street party replete with costumes, music and dancing, while the Burial of the Sardine marks the end of the carnival, featuring funeral processions and black costumes..

Ethe carnival in the City of Madrid will be held from approximately the 12th to the 17th of February.

 

 

 

3. Carnival of Cadiz

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The city of Cadiz is the birthplace of one of the best known and most beloved carnivals in all of Spain. Carnivals have been present in the city since the 16th century and like many other cities in the country, were banned and heavily censored. However, a tragic accident in an explosives depot, the carnival flourished again to brighten the sad atmosphere of the city.

 

During the Cadiz Carnival various cultural groups from Cadiz perform

During the Cadiz Carnival various cultural groups from Cadiz perform

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The Carnival of Cadiz celebrations are particularly expressive, especially through singing and cultural performances. These expressions are generally loaded with satires and humoristic elements that characterize the locals. The carnivals are dominated by comparsas, chirigotas, cuartetos and various groups known as romanceros and ilegales. Despite having a large parade of floats, the main attraction of the carnivals is in the streets, with the groups of various genres and the official contest at the Gran Teatro Falla..

Carnivals in Cadiz take place on the traditional dates that govern the festivities, between the months of February and March.

 

 

2. Sitges Carnival

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Sitges is the birthplace of one of the most diverse, popular and attractive carnivals in all of Spain. Sitges is located in Catalonia. Carnivals began to become popular in the city thanks to the “piques” that took place between the organizations of La Societat Recreativa El Retiro and the Casino Prado Suburense. These piques comprised diverse cultural manifestations, which represented the beginnings of the current carnival festivities.

Today, the Sitges Carnival is one of the most beloved celebrations by the entire population. The carnivals are a varied celebration that integrates each of the sectors of the town. In addition to having the main events such as the Reception of His Majesty Carnestoltes, the Disguised Beds Race, the Rúa de la Disbauxa, the Rúa de l’Extermini and the Enterro de S.M, it also has simultaneous events in every corner of the town.

 

La Cursa de Llits Disfressats is one of the most popular events of the Sitges Carnival

La Cursa de Llits Disfressats is one of the most popular events of the Sitges Carnival

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Sitges is known as one of the most popular gay neighborhoods in Europe, housing a large number of members of the community. As expected, the locality also integrates various events for the LGBTIQ+ community, especially in clubs, bars and restbaurants..

 

 

1. Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Welcome to the most popular carnival in all of Spain. Carnival is held in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Island of Tenerife, autonomous community of the Canary Islands, Spain. Carnivals in the city have been celebrated since the first European settlements. However, it was not until the year 1778 when the first comparsas began to be recorded in the carnival. Moreover, the 20th century was the one that marked the beginning of modern carnivals.

 

The colorful and ostentatious costumes are one of the attractions of the Tenerife Carnival

The colorful and ostentatious costumes are one of the attractions of the Tenerife Carnival

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The Carnival of Tenerife is considered to be the second largest in the world, this is due to its brotherhood with the city of Rio de Janeiro, which has allowed a notable cultural exchange. During Carnival, the whole island is immersed in an incredible atmosphere of celebration. The streets are filled with music, dancers, floats and extravagant costumes. The Tenerife Carnival has two modalities: the Street Carnival and the Official Carnival. The street carnival is distinguished by the parties and meetings in kiosks, clubs and restaurants, while the official carnival includes the murgas, Cabalgata Anunciadora and the incredible Coso Apoteosis..

Ethe Tenerife Carnival will be held from approximately February 12 to 17.

 

 

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