1. Polaciones Valley (Cantabria)
One of the northernmost areas of Cantabria, the Polaciones Valley, celebrates a very authentic carnival named Zamarrones. It is also one of the most emotional, filling the isolated villages with a lot of life. The parade (celebrated on 17th of February) starts in Cotillos and goes through Salceda, Santa Eulalia, Belmonte, San Mamés, Pejanda (in the photo), Tresabuela, Lombraña, Puente Pumar, Uznayo and La Laguna, where the tour ends and people go to the bars. The most colourful character of the party is the white zamarrón. This is a waiter dressed in white linen, silk ribbons and a hat decorated with flowers and colored ribbons.
2. Mundaka (Bizkaia)
On 11th of February, this town situated on the Biscayan coast celebrates a carnival full of tradition and myths. In this ancestral celebration, baptized as Aratustes, men (who are called ‘atorrak’) and women (‘lamiak’) participate separately: men are dressed in white, go out in the morning; women wear rigorous black and white wig (like specters), and go out in the afternoon. They play violins, guitars, accordions, tambourines and sing couplets and parades that tell jokes about what happened in the town during the last year.
3. Bielsa (Huesca)
The Bielsa Carnival (from 9th to 11th of February) has been faithful to tradition for centuries. A party full of symbols that runs through the streets of this town located in the heart of the Aragonese Pyrenees. It is an atypical carnival because, rather than provoking laughter, they try to generate a certain fear through characters as strange as the ‘trangas’, of diabolic aspect with ram skin and horns, who walk the streets with rods (or trangas) and sounding their cowbells in search of the ‘madamas’, who wear light suits with lace and multi-colored ribbons. There is also the figure of the Amontato (an old woman ridden by a man), the one of the bear and the horse, the garret, the ivy and the figure of Cornelio, a doll that is sacrificed for carnival.
4. Santa Cruz de La Palma (Canary Islands)
The Carnival of the Indians, on the island of La Palma, is one of the oldest and most traditional carnivals of the Canary Islands. It is celebrated in Santa Cruz de La Palma, and it commemorates the arrival of the Indians returning from America, so the habitants dress in white and add to their props as trunks, cages with parrots, cigars, etc. Under a war of talcum powder to give a peculiar welcome with Caribbean music. One of the veteran figures is the mythical Negra Tomasa. The bitumen of costume always hides the same person: an almost octogenarian neighbor of La Palma, nicknamed Sosó, who after hours of makeup becomes one of the most beloved characters of the carnival. The appointment is on 12th of February.
5. Avilés (Asturias)
The carnival in Avilés is called Antroxu and, in addition to costumes and charangas, of clubs of all ages, the big day is the International Descent of Galiana Street. This road from the old town is filled with foam and it is lowered with contraptions that act as well-worked boats that compete to be the best, not without help: the Town Hall puts at your disposal mechanical workshops to prepare them. This year will be celebrated on 10th of February.
6. Maceda (Ourense)
This Ourense carnival tries to gain prominence among its neighbors, from ‘os peliqueiros’ of Laza and ‘os cigarróns’ of Verín, with whom it shares that magic air and similar outfit. The most recognizable figure of Maceda’s carnival (from 9th to 13th of February) are the men hidden behind the masks, called ‘felos’. Carrying it is a symbol of authority. Once they chased the residents, grabbed them by the neck with their cane and asked them for coins. Currently they are limited to jumping and playing the role in one of the most ancestral festivals in Galicia.
The Cadiz carnival (from 8th to 18th oh February), one of the most crowded in Spain, owes its popularity to the festive atmosphere that floods the entire Andalusian city. The costumes and cavalcades are joined by the originality of their comparsas, chirigotas, choirs and quartets, which come together in a contest that attracts thousands of people each year to the Gran Teatro Falla, an exercise in acidic freedom of musical expression.
8. Tolosa (Gipuzkoa)
These are the most multitudinous carnivals in the Basque Country, and this year they will be held from 8th to 13th of February. The party begins on Thursday, ‘Ostegun Gizena’, when the proclamation is read and the ‘txupinazo’ is launched. On Saturday there are tamborradas that cross the streets and one of the funniest moments arrives on Sunday. The whole municipality is full of people in pajamas and slippers, with disheveled appearance that comes out to enjoy the carnival. Monday and Tuesday the party continues with parades, comparsas, music, and at night the curtain closes with the burial of the sardine.
9. Zalduondo (Álava)
It is one of the oldest carnivals in Álava and its theme always revolves around the rural world. Recovered in 1975, it has just opened a permanent exhibition with the symbols and characters of this tradition in the palace of Lazárraga, in Zalduendo. In this Alava town, the doll Markitos is the real protagonist and is paraded through the town during the carnival on Sunday. This character represents the sins of the people, which are expiated when they are burned at the stake. The date this year will be on 11th of February.
10. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
It is probably the most similar carnival to the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, famous internationally, and one of the biggest festivals in the Canary Islands. The deployment is complete and in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria everything is paralyzed to make a way for music, costumes and floats (although this year the bad weather has delayed the celebrations). The most popular event is the Gala Drag which will try to attract all eyes as it did last year, an edition that won a ‘drag’ disguised as a Virgin dancing to the rhythm of Madonna and Lady Gaga. The carnival this year will be held on 12th of February.
11. Santa Cruz de Tenerife
They say that in the Canaries there are no musica bands comparable to those of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, within the enormous competition that exists between those of all the islands – especially those of Gran Canaria – during the days of Carnival. The magic of this carnival is enjoyed in the streets of the historic center of the city, between comparsas, rondallas and costumes. The starting date will take place on 12th of February.
12. Sitges (Barcelona)
One of the carnivals that receives the most tourists in Spain takes place in this Catalan town. The streets of Sitges become a spectacle of fun and disinhibition. The crackling coca and the egg sausage omelette mark the beginning of the party. It is followed by the race of disguised beds, as well as parades and floats that take place in the streets until the day of the burial of the sardine, when one of the most colorful festivals of the region closes. This year will be from 8th to 14th of February.