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Carnival craziness: Week-long pre-Lent fancy-dress parties in Spain
25 February 2020 @ 00:06

FEW nations eagerly await the start of Lent the way Spain does – except, perhaps, Brazil – and, arguably, these two countries are the ones that have the best time of it the night before it starts. Carnival craziness has hit the nation, and although a handful of these still hold the trump card for being the biggest and most splendid, drawing in tourists from hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away, a huge number of towns now hold their own versions.

Local Carnival celebrations range from fancy-dress children's parades as part of the main school day through to entire streets bursting with discos, pop-up bars and costumed revellers until sunrise.

Arguably the largest in Spain is in the Canary Islands, where the fun started on Thursday and will carry on into the middle of next week, with at least one public holiday where everyone can get involved and nobody goes to work.

 

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

In fact, you're not too late to catch the main parts of the Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife – which attracts almost as many visitors as the coastal cities of Salvador de Bahia and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil over the same few days. Live music and discos are still playing in the Plaza del Príncipe and the Plaza de la Candelaria tonight and tomorrow night, and it's tomorrow (Sunday, February 23) when the largest and most colourful parade of all hits the streets.

It starts at 17.30, but live bands are on all day – the Ni Fú Ni Fá 'Aphilarmonic' hits the stage at 11.00 and the Los Fregolinos Lyrical Musical Union from noon.

Every year, Santa Cruz de Tenerife nominates a Carnival Queen, and the honour of this once-in-a-lifetime rôle is about the size of being chosen as Miss España or to represent Spain in the Eurovision – the only 'job' that comes close to it is that of Fallera Mayor in the city of Valencia during its flamboyant March fiestas (more on those nearer the date – stay tuned to find out more).

This year's Carnival Queen is Sara Cruz Teja who, at just 18, is much younger than usual, but was gunning hard for the position because she wanted her grandmother to see her in it 'before it was too late'.

Psychology undergraduate Sara's grandmother has Alzheimer's, and she wanted her to witness her granddaughter – who hopes to go on to specialise in criminology – performing her part in the greatest festival honour nationwide whilst she still remembers who she is and still understands what the Carnival is all about.

Sara will not just be 'Queen for a Day' – once you're elected for the 'royal' Carnival rôle, you have a job for the rest of the year (unpaid, except in prestige, excitement and fun) until the next one is elected, normally the following February, depending upon when Easter falls.

An almost-equally huge Carnival celebration takes place in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the other provincial capital of the Canary Islands, but smaller towns also hold their own, meaning if you live or are staying almost anywhere in the region, you'll find one near you.

 

Cádiz

Spain's second-most famous, and the largest and most spectacular on the mainland, is in Cádiz on Spain's southern coast, to the west of Gibraltar

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Naturally, other towns in the same province – and in the wider region of Andalucía – host local versions, but the one in the port city should be witnessed at least once in the lives of anyone resident in or with a holiday home in the wider area.

Read more at thinkSPAIN



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