In Catalonia, the carnival or Carnestoltes starts on Fat Thursday (the Thursday before the start of Lent) and ends on Wednesday of the following week with a traditional ceremony during which the carnival king is buried.
Origins of the carnival
The origins of the celebration are religious. During the week before Lent starts, people indulge in dancing, fun and (lots of) food, before the start of the 40-day fast. Carnival is still a major event, and everyone is welcome to join in with any or all of the many ruas (parades).
As with most of the traditional festivals in Barcelona, the different quarters of the city are highly involved in organising the festivities. Floats are built, people dress up, and you’ll find traditional dancing, confetti and music all over the city’s streets.
As with most major events in Catalonia, food is also an important part of the festivities! Specialities served during this period include butifarras de huevo (sausages with egg) and tortas de chicharrones (offal pies), and the food markets organise tortilla-making competitions
Barcelona carnival: the programme
For more information about the carnival in Barcelona, click here.
- This video will give you a brief overview of the carnival, and of the Taronjada (orangeade): is one of the oldest and most iconic events of the carnival. The Ribera quarter is filled with dancers and people in fancy dress.
- Whilst Barcelona Carnival is a fun and good-natured affair, it’s not the most spectacular event in the region. If you really want to celebrate Carnival in style, head for Sitges!
Carnival is a bigger deal in Sitges than elsewhere in Catalonia, and is something of an institution in the town! A lot of time and effort is spent on costumes and on the parades.
- Sitges is one of Europe’s capitals of gay culture, and the transvestite community is particularly involved in the carnival shows. Fun and flamboyant!
For more information on Sitges Carnival, click here.
If you want to know more about this pretty seaside resort, read our article on Sitges.
Getting to Sitges from Barcelona
- By train: take the R2 from the El Clot, Passeig de Gràcia or Sants stations. The journey takes around 30 minutes, and a return ticket will set you back less than 10 euros.
- By car: allow just over 30 minutes to get there. The tolls will cost you around €7.
Enjoy the carnival!