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Carnival: fifteen times!
There is a popular saying in Catalonia: ‘If Carnival was fifteen times a year and Christmas came every month, if every day was Easter and Lent never came’. This phrase makes it quite clear that Carnival is one of the most popular festivals of the year. In Barcelona, it’s the festival that gets most people involved. So for one week every year, the city is transformed with afternoon snacks of botifarra d’ou (egg sausage), masked dances, parades and sardine burials. For sure, there is no Carnival without its king, and King Carnestoltes will reach the city centre punctually on 23 February, Fat Thursday, to proclaim his reign of revelry.
Barcelona city’s festival has changed dramatically since the first documented reference to the Carnival, a 1333 regulation from the Consell de Cent government prohibiting to throw oranges and regulating the use of masks. Nowadays, the desire to have fun is just as strong as it was 684 years ago. 21st century Barcelona Carnival is all about taking part. The festival also implies a degree of transgression, a spontaneous exercising of individual and collective freedom.
We present Carnestoltes, the King of Fools.
Capricious, mocking, brazen… King Carnestoltes represents Carnival’s intrinsic revelry and transgression. That’s why the extravagantly-dressed King presides over all the festival’s events, in his uniquely provocative way. His big moment comes during the arribo (arrival), when he opens the festivities with a satirical speech that usually covers the year’s events and is rounded off with a call for everyone to join in the unbridled fun.
The Carnival Ambassadors: seven colours, seven towns and seven sins!
There are a colour, a vice and a name that explains their origins. These are Barcelona Carnival’s Ambassadors, who are a mix of characteristics from the traditional carnivals of the 18th and 19th centuries mixed in with more modern features. That’s why their names are a mixture of old Carnival names —Caramanxell, Gran Patantum, Calicut de Malabar, with areas or legends from the old towns they represent: Magòria, Sol de Baix, Tres Torres, Camp d’en Grassot, Les bugaderes d’Horta, Sant Genís dels Agudells, La Fabra & Coats and El Clot de la Mel…
On Maundy Thursday, everybody to the Arribo!
Maundy Thursday, the first day of Carnival Week, will be the biggest thing in the city! In the evening, King Carnestoltes will make a triumphal entrance at the Arribo, the central event of the city’s Carnival celebrations. It will be a great festival with the retinue of His Majesty Carnestoltes: his Prime Minister, the Seven Ambassadors with their attachés, musicians, flags and Barcelona Carnival’s giants, Rodanxó and Rodanxona…
And as Carnival is a time for transgression and role changing, this year, King Carnestoltes will be received in a very special place: Plaça de Sant Jaume, home to City Hall. The festival begins at 5.45 pm, with Frank-and-False, King Carnestoltes’s Prime Minister, who will preside over the ceremony. The parade of the Seven Ambassadors and their retinues, accompanied by the Carnival giants, will set off from Palau de la Virreina at 6 pm. The passacaglia will pass through various parts of the Gòtic neighbourhood before reaching Plaça de Sant Jaume.
There, at the height of the festivities, the King of Fools will make his spectacular appearance, to proclaim his seven-day reign of revelry. The giants will dance, the ambassadors will give him presents, the musicians will play fanfares, Barcelona’s citizens will acclaim him and he will read his proclamation, full of satire and mordacity. Once that is over, the battle of oranges will commence, using confetti, balloons and orange-coloured fireworks, followed by the first Carnival dance.
The carnival will last from February 23th till March 1st. On Ash Wednesday the carnival comes to an end with the funeral of the sardine. The King of Carnival dies and is buried in his grave in a funeral cortège, accompanied by his widow and companions – the colorful costumes are appropriately exchanged to black mourning clothes. Traditionally, on this day everyone eats fish.
Do not loose the opportunity to enjoy Barcelona and participate in such an unforgettable event and learn more about its rich culture and traditions! If you´ve decided to spend few days in the city, you can always be accommodated in our Luxury Apartments in the centre of Barcelona, the best Luxury rentals in the city.