We’re just a few days away from the start of Carnival Season and most towns and cities on the Costa del Sol are gearing up for a week of fun and entertainment.
Although the Carnival is celebrated all over Andalucia – The Cadiz Carnival is probably the most famous – for the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on the Málaga Carnival; only 25 minutes from our hotel and easily accessible, it’s a ‘must visit’ if you are planning a trip to the Costa del Sol in February.
We’re lucky enough to enjoy mild winters and this luxury allows the city of Málaga to live one of its most colourful, multicultural and spontaneous festivities of the year: The Carnival.
With hundreds of activities and events taking place during the week-long (sometimes a little longer) festivities, you’re guaranteed to have a ball!
It’s no secret that Spain is a country with deeply rooted Catholic tradition; as a result of this, Carnival is celebrated before the 40 days of Lent. It’s the perfect way to “let your hair down” before the rigours of the religious holidays, with all their abstentions and prohibitions.
So what happens during Carnival in Malaga?
The fun actually starts a few weeks before the official Carnival dates with what is referred to as “La Previa”. This consists of gastronomic gatherings where you can sample traditional local dishes and where song and dance take centre stage. This is also when different choirs and singing groups compete to win the coveted prize of best group. There are various categories – murgas, comparsas, cuartetos and coros – and all take to the stage at the Alameda and Cervantes Theatres in the weeks leading up to the official start of Carnival Week.
These performances are great fun to watch as they mix humour, great costumes, artistic flair and great voices to create a unique musical experience. The lyrics of the songs the groups perform are based on local, regional and national events and news and, although sometimes a little cheeky – they make fun of politicians, celebrities, etc – they are harmless and great fun!
Once these musical competitions are over and the winners proudly show off their trophies, it’s time for the Street Carnival (Carnaval de Calle) to begin. This year, the festivities begin on the 23rd February 2019 and end on the 3rd March 2019, with the famous ‘Entierro del Boqueron’ on the Malagueta Beach. Remember that the carnival is all about having fun and letting go of your inhibitions so everyone is encouraged to dress up and wear masks; just take a walk down Malaga’s Calle Larios during carnival week and you’ll be witness to some great fancy dress costumes!
Recommended Activities & Events during the Malaga Carnival
There’s lots going on during Carnival week in Malaga; however, we’ve put together a short list of some of the most popular and entertaining events which you should try and get to see.
Saturday 23rd February – The Grand Gala (from 5:30pm) at the Cervantes Theatre. At 8:00pm, local ‘murgas’ performer, Miguel Ángel Merchán, will give the speech at the opening ceremony – known as the ‘Pregón’- in the Plaza de la Constitución. At 9:10pm you’ll be able to watch the election of the Carnival Gods, the key figures of the Carnival festivities, at the Plaza de la Constitución (at the top of Calle Larios).
Sunday 24th February – 12:00pm: Election of child gods for the Carnival with special activities for kids in the ‘Plaza de la Constitución’. Following this, there will be a children’s fancy dress competition.
At 5:00pm the streets of central Málaga come alive with the Carnival Parade. The parade ends at ‘Plaza de la Merced’ where you’ll be able to enjoy live performances of satirical singing groups known as ‘murgas’ and ‘comparsas’.
Saturday 2nd March – 12:00pm: Children’s Carnival in the Plaza de la Constitución with prize giving for the Junior competitions, performances and lots of fun and games for the little ones followed by the Kids Carnival Parade.
At 6:00pm the Parade of the Gods takes to the streets of Malaga’s Historic Centre.
At 7:30pm spectators will be able to watch the Battle of the Flowers (Batalla de las Flores) in Calle Larios, a stunning parade filled with colourful confetti and streamers and a grand finale where the crowds are showered with thousands of flower petals.
21:00h: Election of the Carnival Drag Queen in Plaza de la Constitución.
11:30pm: #YOMEDISFRAZO (I dress up) is the youngster’s carnival event with fancy dress parties in bars and nightclubs in the city’s historic centre.
Sunday 3rd March – 12:00pm: Parade of the Gods through the streets of Malaga’s Historic Centre.
At 1:00pm, the ‘Gran Boqueroná‘ where you can get a free portion of fried ‘boquerones’ (anchovies) in the Plaza de la Constitución.
From 4:00pm to 8:00pm you can take part in the ‘Entierro del Boquerón’ (Burial of the anchovy) Procession at the Malagueta Beach, a parade which marks the official end of the Carnival with official mourners dressed in black accompanying a large ‘boquerón’ which gets burned on a large bonfire on the beach.
Here’s the official video for this year’s Carnival which will give you a good idea of what to expect 🙂
Make the most of Carnival Week on the Costa del Sol by spending a few days at Sunset Beach Club. Ideally located just 25 minutes from the centre of Málaga, you’ll be able to soak up some winter sun and participate in all the fun activities and events the Málaga Carnival has to offer. We’ve got apartments from just €65 per night in an exterior apartment…check availability at www.sunsetbeachclub.com