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We have Shrove Tuesday – the Spanish have ‘Carnaval’…

Shrove Tuesday for us – Carnival for them!

So, it's a week tomorrow until Shrove Tuesday when in Britain we traditionally have pancakes, historically to use up all the rich food before eating more simple food during Lent. However, I have to say that some parts of Spain do much better than this; just like in the Italian town of Venice, certain Spanish towns put on a carnival. This lasts typically over a week and ends on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Their logic is to party hard before the forty days of simpler living. And party they do…

Vilanova i la Geltrú

In this coastal town 40 kilometres south of Barcelona, the carnival program started on 5th February and involves several balls with live music, activities for children, poetry readings, processions, meringue-throwing, and a huge boiled-sweet battle between different local groups, to the sound of live music. If you have a chance to be in the area, it’s well-worth visiting, particularly the sweet battle on Sunday 26th February, starting at 9am – but don’t worry, if you stay over on the Saturday you’ll be woken much earlier by the brass bands in the streets.

The Carnival King

Another part of the carnival is the arrival of the carnival king, Carnestoltes on Thursday 23rd February. His burial on Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the end of the carnival, but there is a still a ball that night!

Carnival in Catalunya

The Catalans take the carnival seriously and have serious fun. This is partly because Franco banned carnivals. Barcelona and Sitges also have impressive carnivals, the one in Sitges being particularly flamboyant. Given the excellent transport links along the coast, you could easily visit all three towns and sample the carnival in each. The atmosphere is fabulous and this would be something you’d never forget.

Have you been to any of these or other carnivals in Spain or Latin America? I'd love to hear about them...

Links to the three carnivals:

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