Los Carnavales en España


In Spain, the carnival season takes place in late February or early March, usually during the week leading up to Lent. Regions across Spain organize carnivals and fiestas, most involving music and dancing. Spaniards dress in colorful, traditional costumes and take to the streets to celebrate the season. The Spaniards have organized carnivals since medieval times, although General Franco outlawed these events for 40 years, starting in 1938, during his dictatorship. Each city and region of Spain has a different style of carnival with its own individual atmosphere and balls.

Santa Cruz Carnival

Tenerife belongs to the Canary Islands, lying off the south coast of Spain. Its main carnival takes place in the city of Santa Cruz and continues for almost two weeks. The carnival opens with a flamboyant procession of floats and musical groups through the streets of the city. It’s traditional to dress as a member of the opposite sex for the procession. The ritual of burying a sardine -entierro de la sardina- marks the end of the carnival. Participants bury a large effigy of a sardine, before lighting a bonfire and setting off fireworks.


Madrid Carnival

As Spain’s capital city, it is only fitting that Madrid should stage one of the main carnivals of the season. Each district of the city puts on its own events, including fancy dress parades, shows for children and live music. Many cafes and restaurants also provide food tastings during carnival. In the evenings, the residents of Madrid dress up in their finery to attend masked black-tie balls.

Cadiz Carnival

The city of Cadiz is on Spain’s Atlantic coast. In addition to the usual floats and processions, Cadiz’s carnival focuses on all forms of music, from open-air traditional concerts to rock music in the city’s squares. Cadiz choirs also perform literary and satirical songs during the carnival. Classical singers — known as camparsas — practice for months to perfect their performances. Singing contests take place at the Gran Teatro de Falla in the city center.


Sitges Carnival

Sitges, in the north of Spain, has a large gay community, and the town hosts an extravagant carnival each year. The Carnival King leads a sequence of processions during the week-long schedule of events. To signify the end of the carnival, the residents of Sitges dress up in mourning to kill (symbolically) the Carnival King. The Sitges Carnival has a more adult atmosphere than many of the other Spanish fiestas that take place during carnival season.


The most famous groups are the chirigotas, the choirs, and the comparsas.


The comparsas are well-known witty and satiric groups that train for the whole year to sing about politics, topics in the news, and everyday circumstances, while all of the members wear identical costumes. There is an official competition in Teatro Falla, where many of them compete for a group award. Their songs are all original compositions and are full of satire and wit. Each comparsa – whether a professional group or one made up of family members, friends or colleagues – has a wide repertoire of songs. They sing in the streets and squares, at improvised venues like outdoor staircases or portals, and in established open-air tablaos (tableaux) organized by the carnival clubs.


The chirigotas are the groups of people (like the comparsas) that sharing a costume and singing together, performed a full repertoire of songs about current topics but with in a humoristic way, unlike the comparsas. The chirigotas´ tunes are happier as well as their lyrics even though they can address the same subjects as the comparsas. They also compete in the Teatro Falla for the awards.