Carnival festivals have a long tradition in Spain as we can confirm by the oldest carnivals in the country.
Carnival festivals have their starting point in the pagan celebrations that took place for the winter ending before the restrictive Lent period. Their main characteristic was that everything was allowed and the fancy dress was the way to remain anonymous through their lack of self-control with food, drink and enjoyment.
There are plenty of places in Spain were you can enjoy the carnival celebrations. Although they were forbidden during the Francoist dictatorship, they came back strong at the beginning of the 80´s.
Some of these carnival festivals have such an old tradition that there are no records of when they started.
The oldest carnivals in Spain
Known as well as The Bull Carnival, it is considered as the oldest carnival in Spain. This carnival joins two of the main Spanish traditions, the bull-fighting one and the carnivals with masks and fancy dresses.
One of the most awaited events of this carnival is the running of bulls on horse, in which bulls are taken by expert horse riders from the country side into town. Runnings of the bulls and bull-fightings get mixed up with Charanga bands and comparsa's music all around the Ciudad Rodrigo streets.
Villarobledo carnival (Albacete)
It is considered one of the National Tourist Interest Festivals. Although it is not as ancient as the Ciudad Rodrigo one, the Villarobledo carnival dates from the medieval era.
This is a very popular and participative carnival. People say that it is 'the only 10 days long carnival in the world that lasts 11' this is because officially these festivals should last for 10 days, but unofficially they always take one day more.
Some of its more characteristic events are for example the carnival Jumble Sale, the Manchegan Pride Night or the Wedding Competition where groups of minimum 20 contestants parody some famous people or royalty's weddings.
Tarragona carnival (Catalonia)
This carnival keeps many of the elements it had centuries ago. It also dates from the medieval period and it is believed that it began with the Saturn festivals in the Roman era.
The Carnestoltes king and the Concubina queen are the most well-known characters of this carnival and all the events are linked through their invented story.
The gastronomy and the fireworks are traditionally related with this carnival.
This carnival was so deeply-rooted that it even survived through the banning of the Francoist dictatorship era.
All the festivals are related with some typical characters and normally the fancy dresses represent them. The 'Trangas', dressed up with the skin and horns of a billy-goat, go round frightening all the children; the 'Madamas', dressed in white combine with silk, brocades and colourful ribbons represent the marriageable ladies; the 'Amonato', a person dress up as a mourning old woman with a man on her back, etc.
How to enjoy carnivals
As it is a very popular and street festival, it is not necessary to drive to enjoy a 100% of any of the carnivals that are celebrated in Spain. According to your destination it is recommended to get in some kind of public t
The transport network betters its services to the main carnival destinations according to the large amount of public.
Once you have chosen your destination, it is advisable to make a reservation for accommodation in the same place or the closest to where all the main events are taking place, so you will be able to enjoy the festival in all its splendour. Making a previous reservation in a hotel in Benidorm, Madrid, Alicante or Tenerife will let you get the most of the popular essence of these festivals.
Finally, do not forget to enjoy the typical gastronomic delicious dishes for this date, as you will do in any Spanish festival.
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