The carnival in Spain

If we have a look at the history of the Spanish literature, we can recognize the Spanish Carnival as an old festive celebration documented since the Middle Age that has grown in personality from the Renaissance. As in the Rest of the world, carnivals are a sum of different pagan festivals associated with Christian celebrations. Due to historical reasons the Tenerife and Cadiz Carnivals are more known internationally.

The Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival

This Carnival was declared, along with Cadiz’s, as an International tourist landmark in 1980. Although this carnival usually starts at the end of February and has an official duration of 10 days, there is an unofficial version whose celebrations can extend to one month.

Each year, the festival focuses on a different thematic, the streets are decorated and people walk them with different costumes willing to see the diverse spectacles and competitions that take place around the city. Particularly, one of them stands out above the rest: the election of the Queen of the Carnival.

The election of the Queen, celebrated on Wednesday or Thursday before the weekend of the carnival, is entirely retransmitted by the Canarian autonomous television. In the competition there are a great number of aspirants, who dress in exotic and beautiful costumes, many of them weighing several hundred kg.

Just two days after the Carnival Queen's gala is celebrated, the Grand Carnival Parade takes place. There are several carnival groups who take part of the parade along with their floats to the rhythm of batucada and Latin music. In the days after this event, there are numerous concerts and dancingevents throughout the city.

Finally, during the Ash Wednesday, the carnival officially comes to an end with the celebration of the so-called Funeral of the sardine. This announces the end of the Carnival, and it usually consists of a carnival parade that parodies a funeral procession and culminates with the burning of a sardine. It symbolically buries the past so people can be reborn with a greater force in a new transformed society

The queen of the carnival

The Cadiz Carnival

As in the Tenerife celebration, the Cadiz Carnival lasts 10 days and begins at the end of February depending on when the Ash Wednesday falls, as this represents the last day of the celebration.

The first official Carnival day is on Thursday in which the final of the Carnival competition is celebrated. The next day, in the central square of the old town, a famous person pronounces the proclamation of the goddess of Carnival. The program of this day is completed with the performances of diverse groups in tablados located in different places of the city.

Those groups are three: “Los coros”, formed by a maximum of 35 singers and 10 musicians who must interpret their repertoire to three voices, accompanied by guitars, bandurrias and lutes. In addition, there is “Las comparsas”, composed of a minimum of ten components and a maximum of fifteen, whose repertoire has to be interpreted with at least two voices, and has an accompaniment of a bass drum, box and a maximum of three guitars, and finally, “Las chirigotas”, composed of a maximum of twelve singers who sing, with one voice accompanied by a bass drum, box and two guitars, hilarious critical songs with a clear sense of humour, full of double meanings and sarcasm.

On the third day, on Saturday, the "Tribute to the comparsista" is celebrated, an act in which a gold mask is delivered to people who have stood out for their support to the party of Cadiz. This is one of the most lively days of the Carnival. The city is filled with colourful disguises and overflowing joy of its inhabitants.

Furthermore, it is necesary to mention that Sunday is the day to go to the Central Market, because there you can find some choirs singing their repertoire for several hours. a big show: "the cavalcade", which after crossing the Avenue of the entry to the city, ends with the launch of fireworks from the Castle of Santa Catalina.

On the last day, the so-called "Piñata Sunday" is celebrated  around the Central Market. There,  a children's cavalcade starts, finishing at  c the centre of the town.[1]

A chirigota

Other carnivals


Another famous Carnival to highlight is the “Carnaval de Águilas (Murcia)” declared in 2015, as a festival of International Tourist Landmark, characterized by the presence of four characters: “La Musa”, who represents joyfulness and fantasy, “Doña Cuaresma”, who represents modesty and serenity, “Don Canal”, the representation of the God reincarnation, and “La Mussona”, half human and half animal, who represents the human duality.[2]

The Carnival of Sitges, another emblematic carnival celebration in Spain, is differentiated by the presence of diverse dances in the streets and xatonadas (a famous dish prepared with raw dish, endive and a sauce). Between the events with more participation, we must highlight the “Rua del Desenfreno” and “Rua del Exterminio”, with parades composed by more than 2,000 participants disguised in more than 50 floats.

Finally, we want to mention Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival (Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands), as it has a famous drag queen competition (La gala drag queen) that consists of a musical show, in which the main event is a drag queen contest enlivened with other performances of singers and dance performances. Unlike the competition of the queen in the Tenerife Carnival where the originality and spectacularly of the costume and the beauty of the aspiring queen are valued above other features for her election, in this contest it is valued the artistic dancing talent of the queen, together with his interpretation during the show.




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