Carnival in Spain, but where and how?

by Lorraine Williamson
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Carnival is a popular annual celebration in various parts of Spain, but Spaniards celebrate it with their own traditions. Sometimes it resembles the Dutch and Belgian carnival, or the ever popular Notting Hill Carnival in the UK, but in other places you imagine yourself completely in Rio de Janeiro. 

In many ways, celebrating carnival in Spain is similar to the southern provinces of the Netherlands and some in Belgium. And although later in the year, the atmosphere and colour is like that of the Notting Hill. Everyone comes dressed up and painted and there are parades almost everywhere. However, what all countries have in common is that it is a big party. 

Carnival in Spain is especially colourful, with parades for the whole family 

Yet the carnival party in Spain also seems to be mainly a family affair with the beautiful parades and floats that ride through the streets of many Spanish cities. Some cities, including Cádiz and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, go all out with professional shows that seem to have come directly from Rio de Janeiro. 

Carnival is celebrated in these places in Spain 

In general, carnival this year started on Thursday, February 16 and the party will be celebrated in many places until Wednesday, February 22. However, this is not the case in all of Spain as there are some places where the party continues even longer. Below we mention some of the most famous places and regions whether carnival is celebrated and on which days this takes place. 


Cádiz’s famous carnival reaches its peak on Monday, February 20, offering a program of parades and performances in this Andalucian city. All festivities in Cádiz will continue until March 5. However, in Málaga, many festivities are already over. They started early in Málaga on February 12 with the famous carnival parade and on Friday February 17 with the popular drag queen contest. 

Canary Islands 

In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the inhabitants are free on Tuesday 21 February for the carnival. Yet the carnival lasts more than a month on this Canary Island. During this month there are performances, the candidates for the queen of the carnival are presented and many piñatas are on display. 

They also love carnival in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The island is best known for the gala of the Queen of Carnival and the famous parade, the Gran Cabalgata, which will take place on Saturday, March 4. 

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Carnival is celebrated in Barcelona and Tarragona between February 16 and 22. The various parades were held over the weekend of February 17 and 18. Sitges also does not skip carnival and several parades were seen here over the weekend. Sitges’ really famous parade, the Rua del Extermini, takes place on Tuesday 21 February. 


In Extremadura, only February 21 is recorded as Fiesta de las Candelas, and it is an official day off. The carnival itself is celebrated from 17 to 26 February. 


The municipality of Madrid celebrates carnival from February 17 to 22, but there is no official day off. However, part of this falls during the school holidays, so that the children can often join in during this party. During these days, events will take place in various parts of the Spanish capital, such as on the Plaza de la Villa and in the Círculo de Bellas Artes. 


In Murcia, Aguilas is especially known as a real carnival city. Every year it is a party full of colour, beautiful parades, performances and singing and dancing competitions. The big parades of Aguilas are scheduled this year on February 19, 20, 21, 24 and 25 at 6.00 pm. 


Carnival is also celebrated in Valencia a week before the Fallas celebrations. For example, parades and DJ performances take place in Alicante. These were usually held in the weekend of February 16, 17 and 18. 

Also read: Fiestas, Ferias, and celebrations in Spain 2023

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