Citizens of Barcelona, as well as other Spanish residents, have an old tradition: each year, 40 days before the Lent, people dress up in masquerade costumes and arrange a huge, bustling and vibrant carnival. It is believed that the celebration helps the locals to let off steam before the Easter week. This year is no exception: from February 23 to March 1, Barcelona will get rapturous celebrating with vast amounts of food, drinks, and dances. Carnival life will reveal itself in all areas of the city, and we have selected its main highlights for you.
Animació carnavalesca i arribada del Rei Carnestoltes / “The Arrival of the Carnival King”
His Majesty will appear on a “Fat Thursday” with his retinue of Carnival Prime Minister, musicians, gigantic puppets and other colorful characters. Accompanied by trumpets and cheering, he will lift everyone’s spirit with a satirical speech delivered from the balcony of Barcelona City Hall, initiating the fun and revelry. Moments later the sky will burst with fireworks establishing the Carnival’s official start.
Where and when: Plaça de Sant Jaume/ February 23, 18:00
La desfilada dels Set Ambaixadors / “The Cavalcade of the Seven Ambassadors”
The Seven Ambassadors are the carnival characters, symbolizing seven ancient cities in Catalonia as well as the seven deadly sins and seven colors of the rainbow. Their noisy procession through the streets of Old Town metaphorically reflects the unity of the region and its commitment to Christianity. The reunification of the carnival main characters will occur on Plaça de Sant Jaume: this is where the Seven Ambassadors will meet the Carnival King.
Where and when: La Rambla, around Palau de la Virreina/ February 23, 18:00
La Taronjada /“Battle of the Oranges”
According to the chronicles, Battle of the Oranges was one of the most important parts of carnival celebration of the XIV century. Modern Barcelonians, unlike residents of Buñol, refuse to throw away the food, so the «battle» will occur using orange balloons and confetti and even the Carnival King himself will inflate a couple.
Where and When: Plaça de Sant Jaume/ February 23, 19:00
Jueves Lardero / “Fat Thursday”
On the First day of Carnival Barcelona becomes a gastronomical paradise. In Raval, Gràcia, Sant Martí and other districts, masters of tortillas will compete in a culinary battle, where the public decides whose pipping hot traditional dish will be the best. Of course, a tortilla is not the only thing customers can enjoy: counters will cram with chorizo and botifarra, shrimp and squid, many types of tapas and wine. Food Festival is in full swing!
Where and when:
Raval – Associació Institut de Promoció de la Cultura Catalana (с. dels Salvador, 24)/ February 23, 17:00
Gràcia – Centre de Cultura Popular La Violeta de Gràcia (c. de Maspons, 6)/ February 23, 20:00
San Marti – Centre Cívic Parc – Sandaru (c. de Buenaventura Muñoz, 21)/ February 23, 19:00
Dimecres de cendra / «Ash Wednesday»
On the last day of the festival mourners in dark robes will say their goodbyes to the Carnival. Accompanied by devils, witches, and other evil spirits, they will carry a coffin with an enormous sardine plaster cast. The memorial service will be held in Sant Andreu District: after King’s funeral oration, the sardine will be burned at the stake. This sad moment signals the finale of a loud celebration.
Where and when: Plaça Can Galta Cremat/ March 1, 18:30
By the way, Barcelona Carnival appeared a long time ago in 1333. To keep an order of things, then ruling City Council of 100 issued a set of rules for the procession, where one of the main points was to prohibit carnival masks. Then on the orders of Francisco Franco Carnival was completely banned for over 40 years. However, with the fall of the dictatorship, the traditional celebration of Holy Week returned both to Barcelona and other cities across the country.
Full event program of Barcelona Carnival can be found here: