Spanish Carnivals You've Probably Never Heard Of

by suzanne.pope on Friday, February 10, 2017

It's February and you know what that means – it’s time to get ready for Carnival! Here in Spain everyone has their carnival outfits picked out and ready to go, in anticipation for the last weekend of February. Prepare yourself for bizarre parades, weird customs, great food and brightly decorated streets across the country. Here are some of our favorite, lesser-known Spanish Carnivals and their fun, sometime bizarre, traditions!

Sitges, Catalonia

Just outside of Barcelona is a small yet spirited town called Sitges. On a typical day it is a charming white-washed lovely seaside town with a large gay community. Carnival here is known for its lively parties, complete with glamorous drag shows which attract talent from all across Europe. About 225,000 people show up to enjoy the Carnival celebrations in Sitges each year.

Avilés, Asturias

Several towns in the Asturias in the north of Spain celebrate Carnival in colorful ways full of disguises, charanga bands, processions, dancing, music, fireworks and sweet crepes typical of Carnival. Avilés has a special event called the Descenso de Galiana (Descent of Galiana Street) which includes foam and a parade. People dance, sing and form large crowds in the foam.

Aguilas, Murcia

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Iberian Peninsula, the people of Aguilas celebrate with over 4,000 street performers and a battle of eggshells! Plastic eggshells usually filled with confetti are thrown around as they sip on cuerva, a drink similar to sangria which is thought to invoke the spirit of Carnival.

Madrid, Madrid

Madrid hosts a wonderful Carnival, which is a great mix of all the best carnivals. As in Cadiz, people sing hilarious original songs. The Parade of Buffoons features elaborate masks and Venetian costumes, jesters and clever costumes, similar to Venice. Murgas and chirigotas are quite common as well; they are groups of people who perform satirical songs, jokes and plays in the streets. And finally, similar to Carnival in Tenerife, The Burial of the Sardine is a Carnival highlight, which is celebrated in satirical funereal clothes while a sardine (usually fake) in a coffin is passed around to mourning townspeople.

Carnivals are celebrated around the world, but Spain’s Carnivals have something special you just have to experience for yourself!


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