Spain is a country with a well known Catholic tradition. The carnival is, therefore, celebrated before the 40 days of Lent as a way to let loose before the prohibitions of the upcoming religious holidays. Most Andalucian towns stage a parade, and a dance and a "Carnival Queen" and other singing contests.
The Carnival traditionally centres around Shrove Tuesday, which is exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday.
- 2020 February 25th
When is the Carnival?
Most towns celebrate the carnival with processions either the weekend before or after shrove Tuesday. Cities and larger towns have festivities lasting all week and over two weekends. Some villages celibrate the carnival at the weekend two or even three weekend later. The most important is the Cadiz Carnival which lasts about ten days. Cadiz Carnival dates and info.
The carnival is a "fiesta of the people". It is a reaction against abstentions and prohibitions of all types. Just submerging yourself in the carnival celebrations is enough to make you feel the dramatic break with social order that carnival goers achieve. It is also an opportunity to let go of all inhibitions and to help out in this department, everyone is encouraged to wear masks and fancy dress.
Hardly surprisingly, during the Spanish Civil War, General Franco abolished the Carnival in rebel areas. And after the war, of course, there was still much opposition to the Carnival, so Franco abolished it once again from 1937.However, in true Spanish style, the celebrations continued in Cadiz and some other towns namely; Ayamonte, Isla Cristina, Fuentes de Andalucia, Trabujena, Benamahoma.
Where is the Carnival?
In the province of Cadiz; Cadiz city and the towns of Rota, San Fernando, Chiclana, Algeciras, Medina-Sidonia and Trebujena all have lavish carnivals. Isla Cristina and Ayamonte, are also famous for their elaborate costumes and excitement, drawing visitors from throughout the region and Portugual as well.
The town of Pedrera in Seville province is known for its carnival with the entire village dressing up on Ash Wednesday for the traditional "burial of the sardine". Other Seville province towns known for their carnival celebrations are: Alcalá de Guadaíra, Carmona, Coria del Rio, Dos Hermanas, Fuentes de Andalucía and Gines. Check with their town hall culture departments for information on the upcoming festivities.
Almost all towns and villages in Andalucia celebrate the carnival, but less so than in Cadiz and Sevilla provinces. More so in the cities than the villages
What to see
For more detailed information on what to see read our detailed Cadiz Carnival guide.
What to see at the Cadiz Carnaval, from the singing groups to the street party. More >
Five Fascinating Facts about Cadiz Carnival, the biggest event in Cadiz's calendar. More >
A day-to-day guide to what happens, and where to see it - from parades to fireworks, and where to see the singing groups performing in the street. More >
The singing groups and their songs- find out about the different types of groups you'll see, all in fancy-dress, and the witty songs you will hear them perform. More >
Glossary of useful terms - all the words you need to find your way around Carnaval. More >
Carnival in the cities and towns
Read our outline about carnivals in the cities of Andalucia.
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