The great Carnival show

Carnival is a popular festival widely celebrated throughout Catalonia. Its origins go back to the ancient pagan festivals which were once held in Greek and Roman times to welcome the advent of spring.

The fun of King Carnival and the seriousness of Lent shape the celebration of this festival with its deep-seated Christian tradition. The starting signal for the revelry, costumes and excesses is Maundy Thursday when the reign of Carnival begins and the parades and troupes take to the streets.

Seven days later and after a lot of partying, Ash Wednesday is celebrated, the day of the “Burial of the Sardine”. This theatrical ceremony symbolises the death of Carnival and the end of the fun to make way for the sacrifice and penance of Lent.

Food also plays a key role in Carnival where tradition holds that the typical botifarra d’ou (large Catalan pork sausage containing egg) and coca de llardons (flat pastry with pine nuts) are eaten. In the past these plentiful and hearty meals would then have been replaced by soups, vegetables and water at the beginning of Lent.

One of the unusual things about this festival is that it is held on a different date each year which is always set by Palm Sunday, a celebration that varies in line with the lunar calendar.

Some of the most outstanding Carnivals in Catalonia are in BarcelonaSolsonaSitges and Vilanova i la Geltrú.