Two weekends ago was the Calçotada Festival in Valls, last weekend was Cós Blanc in Salou, and this weekend was Carnaval in Tarragona! This is what I love about living in Spain, there is never a dull moment.

Carnival in Tarragona lasts one week, though the most important days are the Saturday and Tuesday. Saturday is the day of the main procession of floats and revelers, accompanied by music and hundreds of spectators watching in their own elaborate costumes. The costumes can be anything from Superman to chickens to mustard sachets and everything in between, but whatever it is, people take it very seriously (kids and adults alike!). The costumes in the band are also elaborate, but closer to the flamboyant carnival of Rio (glitter, beads, and feathers abound).

Tuesday is the day of the big finale, known as El Entierro de la Sardina (the burial of the sardine), or El Entierro de Carnestoltes (the burial of Carnestoltes), which is a ritualistic cremation of Carnestoltes, the King of Carnival. Carnestoltes represents carnival, and his cremation symbolises the end of the carnival season and the start of Lent.

The night starts with a solemn procession of folkloric characters and drummers who carry Carnestoltes along the Rambla Nova and up to the main square, Plaça de la Font. Men and women dressed in funeral clothes follow Carnestoltes, weeping and mourning the end of the carnival season. Once at the Plaça, a “notary” reads the last will and testament of Carnestoltes, a satirical poem which references and mocks events of the last year. Then the figure of Carnestoltes is carried to a pyre, covered in gasoline and lit on fire. Simultaneously starts the Ball de Diables, a Catalan tradition where men dressed as devils dance in a circle holding giant spinning sparklers. The effect is exciting and chaotic. If you enjoy this, make sure to come back in September for the biggest festival of Tarragona: Santa Tecla!


Saturday parade


Reading of the last will and testament

Cremation of Carnestoltes

Cremation of Carnestoltes

Ball de Diables

Ball de Diables

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6 Comments on “Carnaval!”

  1. I love the last series of photos with the fireworks! I went to the party in Sitges last night, it was so much fun. Have you ever been to the sardine burial thing?

    • Nice! the Carnival in Sitges is even better than the one here, I went last year and loved it. I didn’t see the sardine burial in Sitges, but these are pictures of it in Tarragona. There aren’t actually any sardines (I think it depends on the city, here we have Carnestoltes, in some cities they use a figure of a sardine), and there isn’t actually a burial, just a cremation of the figure of Carnestoltes, but I think in some cities they do the cremation on the beach and then spread the ashes! You should see it next year its really worth it for the fire and sparklers and bangs :)

      • Oooh okay! I thought they were two separate things, as I saw the Carnestoltes cremation and the ‘sardinada’ listed under different categories. :) I’d heard of something with a sardine burial and weeping ‘sardine widows’ – maybe it was another festival.

      • Yes I think it’s the same, at least in Tarragona, Entierro de la Sardina and Entierro de Carnestoltes are just two names for the same thing. In this event they also have a procession with weeping widows dressed in black.

  2. Rebecca says:

    The Spanish have such wit and humour! This is not very evident from their early art, but certainly visible in modern art of Spain like Picasso and Dali. Is it something Catalan, I wonder?

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