Want to experience something bigger than Mardi Gras? In late February, Carnaval is celebrated all over Spain. The biggest celebrations take place in Barcelona, Sitges, Cádiz and the Canary Islands. 

The Meaning Behind Carnaval

Carnaval  occurs right before the start of Lent. Traditionally, it is a time where people have a free pass to party hard before making a religious sacrifice. Carnaval was banned during Franco’s dictatorship and the Spanish take full advantage of being able to celebrate this event today. During Carnaval, you will see people wearing colorful costumes and masks at the many festivals and parades that take place.

What to Wear at Carnaval 

At my first Carnaval in Barcelona, I was surprised to see that a lot of the costumes resembled Halloween costumes. It is important to note that Carnaval in Brazil is different from Spanish Carnaval. People often expect to see those same sequined samba outfits that the dancers wear in Rio de Janeiro. You will see those, but they’re mainly worn by the dancers in the parades. Every city in Spain celebrates Carnaval differently, but all of the costumes are on the formal side. In Barcelona, there’s a ton of costume shops. Below I’ve listed some of my favorites.

Carnaval Attire

Menkes Barcelona- Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 642, 08007

Party Fiesta- Carrer del Consell de Cent, 343, 08007

Atucom- Carrer de Roger de Llúria, 27, 08009 

How Long does the Celebration Last? 

 It really depends on where you choose to go. In Santa Cruz de Tenerife (the Canary Islands), the celebration lasts for three weeks. Here in Barcelona, it’s a week-long celebration that starts on Fat Thursday and ends on Ash Wednesday. 

What Can You Expect to See at Carnaval?

You can expect to see huge floats, with dancers in colorful costumes. A number of comedic performances are also held on top of these floats. The people participating in the parades love to interact with their audience so prepare to dance and laugh along with them! The drag influence on Carnaval is huge, so expect to see full drag in the parade! If you are a lover of drag, make sure you head to the Carnaval in Sitges, which is only about 45 minutes from Barcelona.

Note: The most popular celebration in Barcelona takes place in the El Born neighborhood

Carnaval Barcelona

We hope this blog has convinced you to come celebrate Carnaval with us in the future. It is definitely something you don’t want to miss out on.