Spanish ”Carnaval” through the eyes of an Irish man.


So I woke up on the 17th, went downstairs for breakfast and braced myself for the biggest parade of the year. However, this wasn’t Saint Patrick’s Day and the date was February 17th. It was the morning of the Carnaval parade in Torreperogil and instead of a hearty fry I was going down for some churros and chocolate. In this article I will share with you my experience of the 2018 Torreperogil Carnaval.

My understanding of what it is.

Now, I could be wrong but Carnaval seems to be a festival to mark the start of lent. So while we’re doing our best to mix up some eggs and butter for pancakes, the Spanish are throwing a premature Paddy’s Day-esque party behind our backs! Having said that, they were more than welcoming so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt 😉 .

What happens at ”Carnaval”?

Carnaval bears many similarities to our own St Patrick’s day festival. On St Patrick’s day we dress in green, drink beer and play traditional music. For carnival, they drink beer too, they play traditional cheesy music like reggaeton and classic Enrique and Shakira all day and they too dress up, just not exclusively in green. From what I’ve seen they dress up as just about anything. Notable attendees included the muppet show’s very own  Beaker, The Smurfs and a London Irish rugby player.


Summary of what it is.

So it starts with the parade. Float after float and group after group they pass their adoring public. The parade floats finish and arrive to their own theme music on the summit of a marque covered stage, where they are greeted by the towns on lookers once again. They then say a bit about their float, sometimes even in the voice of their chosen character. As they finish they descend, join the crowd, get a glass of beer and become a part of the fiesta. The result is you end up being at the most eclectic fancy dress party this side of the pillars of Hercules ! The local’s love for Carnaval is reflected in the final and arguably the largest float; ”The Sardines Funeral”. This float symbolizes the end of Carnaval. Locals dress in black and mourn the end of the festival for another year ! A giant dead sardine float serves as the metaphor for the conclusion of Carnival and the cries of sorrow ring out from whaling mourners. The whole thing is gas and hilariously good craic.


Would I recommend it?

Believe it or not Spain does get a winter! And until about mid march it is quite cold inland, even in the South. However, if you’re looking for a cultural experience, then this is certainly for you. When most people think of Spain, they think flamenco, beach, soccer. This festival is like something from Rio or New Orleans. As we say in Ireland it’s great craic and if you stick close to Malaga or go to the Canaries the weather should stay fairly good.

Carnival is the perfect little camio fiesta to accompany either a Ski holiday in Sierra Nevada in Granada or possible a little winter sun or why not even all 3.

By Cathal Fitzpatrick