Why you should visit Barcelona in February (hint: Carnival!)

‘If Carnival was fifteen times a year and Christmas came every month, if every day was Easter and Lent never came’.

The saying makes it quite obvious that Carnival is one of the most popular festivals of the year in Spain. Carnival is up there with the big guys, Easter and Christmas.

In Barcelona, Carnival is the festival that gets most people out and about.

Every year during one week, the city is transformed in a hot colorful mess, with parades and kings, sardine funerals and people of all ages dressed up one more creatively than the other.

Carnival starts on a Thursday and ends a week after, on Ash Wednesday, which will mark the 40 days of Lent before Easter.

The carnival date varies every year, falling anywhere between February 4 and the 1st of March.

How to find the carnival routes

Since the date varies every year, you can check out the official Barcelona carnival web page to make sure you get the most accurate information.

Anything goes for Carnival!

There are lots of different things to do in the city: make-up workshops and Carnival dances, omelette competitions and fancy-dress competitions, sardine funerals…


Is the name of the carnival in Catalunya.

Starting with Fat Thursday, the carnival will give people the best excuse to stuff their faces with the most delicious and fatty treats in the Spanish and Catalan cuisine.

Thursday marks the arrival of the Carnival, which will will begin with a parade, then a speech by the Carnival King from the balcony of the City Hall.


The Taronjada– or Orange Battle – will follow;  of course, real oranges are not thrown anymore, their place taken by orange balloons and confetti.


Everyone dresses up!

The creativity and variety of costumes and the fun debauchery around the city make for an amazingly fun photo-shoot!  The pictures will tell the story:

The Carnival goes on for a week and ends on Wednesday, marked by the traditional ‘burial  of the sardine’ celebrations.

Burial of the Sardine

No one’s really sure as to why exactly a fish is buried on Ash Wednesday, but there are two main theories:

One hints back to the reign of King Carlos III in the 18th century. The story goes that the king donated a mountainload of sardines to his servants as a treat before the start of Lent.

Unfortunately, because the weather was quite hot the fish went bad (and inevitably smelly) so the king allegedly gave orders for it to be buried in a park.

Others say the tradition comes from the burial of cerdina (a diminutive of cerdo – pig in Spanish). So Spaniards were burying a small pig on the first day of Lent, to symbolize the food they’d give up eating during this period.

Cerdina became sardina as the tradition moved on to different parts of the country, and there you have it.


The burial of the sardine is profoundly symbolic and means burying the past in hopes for a better future.

Typical for Spanish people to make a fiesta our of a funeral!

Next year, skip the fancy Venice Carnival for a more fun and indulging celebration, in Barcelona.

And as an extra bonus, you’ll get to hang out with me (wink)!

Happy wandering!

My California dreams: The General and El Capitan
Venicing Away