02/28/2019 - 03/06/2019
Carnival, a festivity based on the lunar calendar and eagerly anticipated by Catalans, always begins on a Thursday (Fat Thursday) and ends on the following Wednesday (Ash Wednesday).
Carnival is synonymous with partying, bustling crowds, costumes, parades and so on. In short, it is a week given over to hedonism and having a good time being the forerunner to the period of fasting and deprivation represented by the Christian tradition of Lent. These days, beyond the excesses, Carnival is a light-hearted popular festival based around the crazy figure named El Rei Carnestoltes (The Carnival King). While carnival is celebrated in almost every town and village throughout Catalonia, the places that historically stand out for their particular traditions are Barcelona, Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú and Torelló. However, wherever you may be during the festivities, you will be able to try some of the delicious traditional Carnival dishes: the coca de llardons (flatbread with pancetta) or botifarra d'ou (pork sausage containing egg).
Barcelona Carnival: The official dates for this year are 1/3 to 6/3. The Rei Carnestoltes arrives in the Passeig del Born with his entourage comprising seven ambassadors who symbolize the seven historical towns within the city (Horta, Sant Andreu, Sarrià, Gràcia, Sants, les Corts and Sant Martí). There are also further parades that take place in different places throughout the city. Carnival is also evident in the markets of Barcelona which are full of people letting their hair down, costumes, tastings and a frenetic rhythm. On Sunday night you can experience the wild party known as the "gran sarao".
Sitges: The Carnival King arrives in Sitges at 19:00 on 28 February. From that point on you can join the parade. Throughout the whole weekend there are a range of activities to suit any and every audience: concerts, cookery demonstrations, races using decorated beds and costumes, lots and lots of costumes.
Torelló: This town in the Barcelona county of Osona has its own name for the Carnival: the Carnaval de Terra Endins (the inland carnival). The Carnival King bursts into a council session being held in the City Hall, relieves the mayor of his duties and takes over for seven days. The parade held in Torelló is a participative one in which anybody can join in and which includes all kinds of representations of mythical beasts.
Vilanova i la Geltrú: In this municipality of the Garraf region (Barcelona), the carnival is organized by the local community and always includes a high level of social comment. The most meaningful event for them is Les Comparses (carnival troupe) in which more than 10,000 pairs of comparseros take to the streets accompanied by charanga brass bands, while throwing candy to the crowds.
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