Barcelona carnival 2018 - What to see

Barcelona Carnival 2018 - Carnestoltes

Carnaval de Barcelona dates: Thursday 8th February to Wednesday 14th March 2018

2018 Barcelona Carnival week. What to see at the Barcelona Carnival. 'A Carnestoltes, bones voltes' - 'In Carnival, good times!' The Barcelona Carnival is a week long programme of events and processions that starts in 2018 on Thursday 8th February with the arrival of the King Carnival - Rei Carnestoltes - and ends on Wednesday 14th March 2018 - Ash Wednesday, when the famous carnival sardine is buried.

The first document history of Barcelona's carnival dates back to 1333 when a regulation from the Barcelona government prohibited orange throwing and regulated the use of masks! Pictures Barcelona Carnival

Barcelona Carnival 
Photo by Carlos Lorenzo with kind permission. More Barcelona carnival photos

What is carnival about?

The general idea of a carnival is that it is time to eat, drink, dance and generally have a huge party during carnaval week in preparation for the fasting period of Lent, which begins after the carneval ends. Carnaval is a festival which allows you to hide behind your mask and become someone else for a while, which means you can break the rules a ilttle and let yourself go.

It all starts on Fat Thursday, because this is the day when you start to stuff yourself during carnaval week. The Barcelona food markets celebrate Fat Thursday with many food events and competitions all over Barcelona. The main character of the Spanish carnevals is King Carnival - called 'Rei Carnestoltes' in Catalan language and 'Rey Carnaval' in Spanish language.

The symbolic role of the Carnival King is to carry all the sins of power, and take responsibility for all the bad things that occurred throughout the year. On the last day of Carnival, the carnival king’s last will and testament is read in public. Then the king is condemned and burnt, which is the signal to start the feast. A week later the sad death of the King Carnival marks the end of the carnival with funeral corteges complete with grieving widows in black and other events in his honour all over the city.

See major events on the Barcelona Carnaval website or search on Twitter for Barcelona carnival information using the hashtags below:

Carnival is called 'carnestoltes' in the Catalan language and 'carnaval' in Spanish. The carnaval parades are mostly on Saturday 10th February 2018. We have listed some of the top Barcelona Carnival events further down this page and some useful information about carnival traditions.

In Barcelona the public carnival activities are mostly for families and children, although that said, there are many parties at nightclubs for adults and many costume balls. New in 2018 on the carnival party scene is a big carnival party at Poble Espanyol - Spanish Village called Carnaval del Cruïlla 2018. For adult street party carnival events then we can also recommend the parade nights at Sitges, which is just south of Barcelona. 

The Sitges carnaval usually takes place around the same time and has more of a street party theme for adults. Sitges, which is a popular seaside resort town just south of Barcelona, where the Sitges Carnival is celebrated on the same days as Barcelona. The Sitges carnaval is famous for its flamboyant parades, both thanks to a fantastic annual effort by Sitges residents and by the vibrant and enthusiatic gay community of Sitges.

Barcelona's main carnaval events in the city center take inspiration from the ancient carnavals from previous centuries dating back to the 14th century. In 2018, however, there will not be central Grand rúa procession (because the carnival dates coincidewith the Santa Eulalia festiival) but there will be around 100 local and festive events and over 30 local carnaval parades in all areas of Barcelona including in the neighbourhoods of the old city Ciutat Vella.

Barcelona costume shops

Barcelona carnaval highlights & parades

Thursday 8th February 2018
Dijous Gras - Fat Thursday - Jueves Ladero

Thursday 8th February is 'Fat Thursday' and the first day of the carnival. Fat Thursday called 'Dijous Gras' in Catalan language and 'jueves Ladero' in Spanish language. Fat Thursday is similar to Shrove Tuesday in UK. The King Carnaval ceremony opens the carnaval week in Barcelona. 

L'Arribo Rei Carnestoltes
Thursday 8th February at 6pm
Carnival King arrival at plaza de Sant Jaume. The first parades of the carnival are to celebrate the arrival of King Carnival. You can see Rei Carnestoltes processions in many local 'barrios' neighbourhoods often starting from 'mercat' food markets in Barcelona. There Arrival of Carnival King and entourage is at  Plaça de Sant Jaume  at 6pm, where you can enjoy 'La Taronjada' which is one of the oldest Carnival traditions inspired by the ancient battle of orange throwing. In the modern version of the Taronjada' the battle of is one of orange colour with orange balloons and confetti.


Las ruas de carnaval - carnival parades

Date: Saturday 10th February 2018 
There are around 30 local Cavalcada del Rei Carnestoltes processions in all distrcts of Barcelona. For visitors we recommend events in the old city area of Barcelona.

Rua 'Carnavalassu 2018'
Date: Saturday 10th February 2018
Time: 18:30 to 20:30 - 5pm to 8.30pm
Starts on: Plaça de la Mercè
Ends on:  Carrer del Pou de la Figuera
Parade route: Pl. de la Mercè, c. Regomir, c. Ciutat, pl. Sant Jaume, c. Jaume I, c. Princesa, c. Tantarantana, pl. Sant Agustí Vell, c. Serra Xic, to finish at c. Pou de la Figuera

La Taronjada Barcelona Carnival

More Barcelona carnaval activities

Most of the activities during the Barcelona Carnaval are in the barrios (neighbourhoods) of Barcelona. Each barrio (neighbourhood) organizes their own parades and festivities, so keep your eyes open for posters advertising carnaval events in your area or visit the carnival website for a full list of activities and programme. The activities are usually centred around the civic centres and the food markets in each district of Barcelona.

Carneval activities in Barcelona usually include parades, lots of children's activities and competitions, like fancy dress competitions and food and cooking competitions with prizes for everyone. Among the activities you will always find some that celebrate the traditions of eating eggs, usually in the form of tortilla (omelette) cooking and tasting competitions. 

Don't miss the 'botifarrada,' where everyone eats botifarra to their hearts content. Botifarra is a type of Catalan sausage and based on ancient recipes, either the Roman sausage botulu or the lucanica, made of raw pork and spices.  Sardines are other main ingredients in Catalan carnival tradition and there are many sardine tasting events.

The Barcelona market organization 'Mercats de Barcelona' awards the best decorated stalls and shops in each food market the traditional and much coveted Golden Pepper award called 'Pebrot d'Or' – 'Pimiento de Oro.'

The Barcelona Carnival ends on Ash Wednesday, 'el Miércoles de Ceniza' and is celebrated with the traditional 'Enterrament de la Sardina' - 'Burial of the Sardine' ( In Spanish: Entierro de la sardina) to mark the end of the carnival period.  The sardine funeral is a symbolical burial of the past to allow society to be reborn and transformed with new vigour.

This takes place in various districts of Barcelona on Wednesday 14th February

Barcelona Carnival website 
Web Barcelona food markets
Civic centres Barcelona
Sitges carnaval website
Highlights Sitges Carnival
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Barcelona Events 

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Last Updated on Monday, 15 January 2024 16:24