Have you noticed all the feather boas around at the moment? All the face painting and face masks and fancy dress and dancing parades? It’s because it’s currently carnival! That week-long party that serves as one finally hurrah before we all give up on the fun stuff (booze, casual sex, drugs) for 40 days and 40 nights before Easter arrives, with all its gruesome torture reenactments and chocolate-pooping rabbits (strange festival fellows, methinks).
Devout Catholics aside, not many people abstain during Lent in this day and age. But did you think we’d give up on the party beforehand? No fucking way! Especially not in hard-partying Spain, where religious occasions are little more than an excuse to do something dangerous and/or ridiculous (see our travel documentary, 50 Fiestas, for some examples of mad Spanish parties pretending to be religious affairs). Carnival in Spain is a time when most villages, towns and cities have something wild going on. Here’s a small selection of the best.
This party makes the cut because of the number of revellers who attend, the party’s proximity to Barcelona, and because it’s the carnival Stoke visits every year. Big, bright costumes, dancing parades, colour and music, unbridled hedonism, fashionable masks covering your identity, plenty of bars and partying in the streets, babes and hot guys, and the level of party that can only be found in Europe’s gay capital. Sitges Carnival is a non-judgemental, gender fluid, no-holds-barred knees up that sees straight and gay men and women and grandparents and children, locals and tourists and expats and everybody partying together like there’s no tomorrow. The biggest night is Tuesday, and yes, you’d better reserve your space now.
After an arduous vetting process, 50 Fiestas has decided to film the Carnival in Laza, Galicia, on Spain’s north-west corner. The Laza Carnival seems pretty normal if you think that masked groups of marauders roaming the streets throwing angry fire ants at people is normal. We don’t really know what is going on out there, and that’s why we’re sending 50 Fiestas out there to find out. A party with fire ants sounds like our kind of party. Wait, that’s “no pants” party. That’s our kind of party.
The Canary Islands are geographically Africa, but a part of Spain, and due to their southern aspect enjoy temperate weather year-round. It’s never too hot, it’s never too cold, it’s always just right in the Canaries. You know what nice weather means? No pants! Yep, the warmer weather in the Canaries means that Carnival in Tenerife is a scantily-clad affair. Bonus!
Also in the Canary Islands, this Carnival features a pitched white-powder battle that may or may not be a nod to the island’s connection to South America and various import-export businessmen who made their fortune selling white powder. Whatever the party’s origins, it sure looks like a chalky good time.
Down in the south of Spain, they mark the end of the Carnival with the symbolic burying of the sardine. This event is a mock funeral performed for a giant sardine. Obviously.