Barcelona is ready for the party
February can be known as a quiet winter month with, in some parts of the world, snow and cold weather. But at least one major event in this month puts a beam of everybody’s face: it’s Carnival! This year is occurs from the 8th to the 14th of February.
Information about the Carnival in Barcelona
This year forget about Rio de Janeiro, Venice, Nice or Cologne to celebrate it and discover what festivities Barcelona offers for this joyful event. The city has a long tradition of celebration that has been going on for 685 years (1333 is the first documented Carnival reference) and you’ll surely be enchanted by the folklore. So you should see how the city changes with afternoon snacks of “botifarra d’ou” (we’ll explain it a bit further), masked dances, parades and sardine funerals. Here you’ll find all information about the Carnival in Barcelona.
The King and his Ambassadors
There is no Carnival without a king and in Barcelona King Carnestoltes is the proud representative of the festivities. He will be the master of the opening ceremony marking the beginning of his reign that starts on Fat Thursday (February 8th at 5.30 p.m.) dressed up in the most extravagant way and with a provocative attitude. During the “arribo”, he will deliver a satirical speech summing up the year’s events and will ask the crowd to join the party. As always, he will be followed by a gang of seven ambassadors of different neighbourhoods of Barcelona for this week of splurge.
This major event will see the triumphant entrance of King Carnestoltes at Plaça de Sant Jaume, the location of the City Hall. This year’s celebration is entitled “Sense màscara no hi ha carnaval’ (“No Carnival without a mask” in Catalan). As a result King Carnestoltes will expect everyone in the square to wear a mask otherwise he won’t appear. Therefore several masks in the colours of the Ambassadors will be provided.
Something new is going to happen this year. The edict will be sung by King Carnestoltes who will be accompanied by a mysterious lady.
This year’s Carnival promises a real moment of fun. See the programme of Maundy Thursday below:
6.00 p.m.: Masks hand out in Plaça de Jaume (see map below)
6.30 p.m.: Arrival of the Ambassadors and the Carnival giants. Arrival of the King and proclamation of his seven-day reign from the City Hall’s balcony.
7.00 p.m.: Dance and orange battle with confettis and fireworks.
How to get there
Where to stay
It’s always very convenient to stay close to this kind of events. That’s why we offer various comfortable, elegant and centrally located apartments for you to make the most of your experience in Barcelona. Find more information by clicking here.
Programme of the week
Find out here what every neighbourhood of Barcelona proposes for Carnival:
- Ciutat Vella district
- The Eixample district
- Gràcia district
- Horta-Guinardó district
- Les Corts district
- Nou Barris district
- Sant Andreu district
- Sant Martí district
- Sants-Montjuïc district
- Sarrià – Sant Gervasi district
Burial of the Sardine
On the last day of Carnival on Ash Wednesday (Thursday 14th February this year), sardines and herrings is the typical
food that is eaten. In Barcelona, as in the rest of Spain, there’s a particular event that occurs on that day. You can attend a satiric funeral parade to bury King Carnestoltes as well as the sardine. This strange yet funny ceremony designates the end of this period of abundance before the start of Lent the next day.
The origins of this practice aren’t very clear and are subject to various interpretations. One of them is the action of burying sardines could be related to the abstinence of sexual intercourse during Lent. The fish could refer to male attributes meaning that these practices weren’t permitted in that moment.
This year, there will be nine ceremonies with different features (see programme below). In some cases, participants bring sardines made of paper hanging on sticks. You might also see people wearing mourning clothes or burning a sardine or King Carnestoltes.
In the neighbourhood of Les Corts, there will be a special Ash Wednesday to celebrate the end of Carnival. The fire group Diables de Les Corts will organise a sardine feast followed by fire show accompanied with music and juggling.
Meals are generally shared in various districts of the city and people are welcome to eat sardines and herrings.
Burial of the Sardine around Barcelona:
Carnival isn’t a complete party without a massive feast with succulent food before the period of Lent. Again, Barcelona has nothing to envy to rest of the Carnival places in the world. Just see by yourself by trying these specialties:
- Botifarra d’ou or egg sausage – a traditional pork Catalan sausage prepared with eggs.
- Coca de llardons – flat pastry made with sugar, eggs, pine nuts and pork crackling. It’s great to get ready for Lent!
- Ranxo – usually prepared for Tuesday of the Carnival,, it consists in a huge soup elaborated with food brought by the people.
- Greixoneres dolces – typical cake from the Balearic Islands made with eggs, cinnamon, lemon and milk. This one will be popular among those with a sweet tooth.
- Sardines – closely linked with Carnival, the’re usually eat at the end to celebrate the end of a period of excess and start Lent. There’s a satyrical funeral procession lead by King Carnestoltes called “Entierro de la Sardina”, which is traditionally celebrated around Spain.