Carnival (or as it is known here, Carnestoltes) is one of the most special weeks of the year in Barcelona. These are days when the city becomes a veritable pageant of tradition and celebration.
As you may know, Carnival is a lunar party! This means that it starts in the cycle before Lent, seven weeks after the first full moon following the winter solstice. Therefore, the dates on which it is celebrated vary from year to year.
Specifically, in 2020, the city will be filled with music, light and colour from February 20 to 26.
Seven days when Barcelona hosts hundreds of events and activities to celebrate traditional Carnival with joy. In this post, we’ll tell you in detail about the main celebrations held every day, so that you don’t miss out on one of the most representative holidays in Catalonia.
A week of light and fun in Barcelona
The Carnestoltes King is responsible for kicking off Carnival in Barcelona. This is the central character of the festivities throughout the region, the figure representing the spirit of fun and celebration.
During Carnival week, Fat or Greasy Thursday (Catalonia known as Dijous Gras) starts with a musical parade with devils and correfocs beginning on the Rambla and moving to the Mercat del Born, where it ends with an orange fest and fireworks.
This is also a day marked by eating and typical fare, where families gather to enjoy some of the region’s traditional specialties, such as butifarra d'ou, tortilla and coca de llardons. Food plays a key role in the celebrations, for obvious reasons! So don’t hesitate to join in some of the many tortilla contests taking place in the different neighborhoods.
Between one delicacy and another, we arrive at Saturday, one of the most special days and, the one with the greatest carnival atmosphere in Barcelona. On this festive day, different street parties are organized in all the neighborhoods throughout the city - there’s no escape from the fun!
So don’t hesitate to join in some of the many tortilla contests taking place in the different neighborhoods. The presence of King Carnestoltes, a pitched battle with oranges and El Sarau de la Taronjada, a traditional masked dance, make up the centerpiece of the day.
Carnival ends on Ash Wednesday (dimecres de cendra), also known as the Burial of the sardine, when the imposition of ash symbolizes penance and repentance for the days of Carnivalesque excesses.
The night of Carnival
Apart from the official events, throughout the week there is also much nightlife to enjoy. Most clubs in Barcelona organize themed parties to celebrate Carnival.
However, the place where the nights take on a new dimension during Carnival is undoubtedly in Sitges, one of the most happening areas on the Mediterranean coast. Its pubs, nightclubs and street parades offer a remarkable contrast to the more traditionally festive atmosphere of the capital, and it’s the perfect spot to let your hair down during Carnival.
Without a doubt, Carnival is one of the most special times to visit Barcelona. Holidays, tradition and all-out fun that you’ll enjoy even more when you stay at the Pere Tarrés Barcelona Hostel