Carnestoltes (Carnival) in Barcelona

Carnestoltes (Carnival) in Barcelona

Mar 10, 2019

As in many European countries, Carnival in Spain is characterized by costumes, parades, parties, and fun.

In the Spanish cities, it usually begins with a local celebrity’s speech, followed by the streets activities, such as street performances and parades that continue for days.

As we all know, Spain is worldwide appreciated for its energy, warmth, and vivacity, and which opportunity is better than an enthusiastic festivity as Carnival is to express these globally beloved characteristics? The festivals and celebrations take place in every corner of Spain, and Catalonia, without, of course, leaving Barcelona out.

What in Spain is called Carnaval, in Barcelona is Carnestoltes and it is a period dedicated to the fun, food, dance, and wine.

These characteristics mark Carnival all around the world, but you can imagine how the vibrant and enthusiastic Barcelona sparkles in that period.

Imagination and creativity are the keywords for Barcelona’s Carnaval!

Arrival of Rei Carnestoltes

Carnival in Barcelona starts on the Jueves Lardero (Fat Thursday), when the King of Carnival, in Catalan Rei Carnestoltes, who reincarnates all the sins connected with power, enters the city center accompanied by a parade of seven ambassadors, musicians, and the city’s giants (papier-mâché big statues). The procession goes from the Virreina Palace to the Sant Jaume Square, where the Rei officially opens the celebrations.

This is the opening moment of the Carnival in Barcelona, and when people start stuffing themselves to be prepared for the forthcoming Lent. Indeed, for the occasions all the markets set up fascinating enogastronomic events and funny competitions around the city.

Baile del Molinet

With the Baile del Molinet, the arrival and official presentation of the Queen of the Carnival is celebrated in the El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria.

Las Ruas

The most awaited celebration is the Rua, a parade of floats, dancing groups, and musicians that takes place the Saturday and goes from La Mercè Square at 6.00 pm and ends at 8.30 pm after having walked for all the city. For this reason, during the Saturday, Barcelona’s streets are full of colors, because of the many masked people who stroll for the streets and alleys.

Every district has its own Carnaval de Las Ruas, celebrated with numerous shows, games, and theme events; the markets arrange parties and games about food, such as parades and games for kids and cooking competitions. Some of the most peculiar games of the Carnaval de Las Ruas are the Food Challenges were people stuff themselves with eggs (which are the main ingredient for the typical tortilla) and botifarra (the traditional Catalan sausages).

Every year the best shops and stands of these markets are awarded with the Pimiento de Oro, which means Golden Pepper.

La Taronjada

One of the most spectacular events during the Carnival in Barcelona takes place at Plaça Comercial del Born (in front of the cultural center) and it is called the Taronjada. The Taronjada is a battle of orange balloons and confetti, which represent the real oranges that people used to throw in the past during the battle of the oranges.

The King Parade

On Sunday evening the King greets the citizens of Barcelona during a parade which goes through the streets of the city. The procession finishes in Passeig Picasso with a deluge of confetti and balloons.

The End of the Carnival

The Ash Wednesday marks the end of Carnival and the beginning of the Lent period. In Barcelona, this moment is symbolized with the death of the King. The Rei Carnestoltes assumes the responsibility for the fault of the bad moments of the previous year and, in this Wednesday, he is publicly condemned signing the end of the Carnival with his funeral procession.

To celebrate the end of the Carnival a party that goes from 12.00 pm to 10.00 pm is organized for people of every age, with many workshops and games for children and adults and Dj entertainment to make people dance.


Even if the worldwide known city is Barcelona, the very vibrant and explosive celebrations of Carnival are in Stiges, the seaside town almost 40 km away from Barcelona.

Here, as in Barcelona, the Rei Carnestoltes opens the celebrations that last one week, with many parties, both outdoor and in bars, during the evening and the night. For hours, music, floats, and costumes fill the streets and seafronts. Given the fact that Stiges is a reference place of the Lgbt community, the Carnival parade in Stiges resembles the very famous Rio Carnival, with so many colors, spectacular floats, and drag queens show. The most entertaining and hilarious moments of the Stiges Carnival are the Saturday night, Sunday, and Fat Tuesday parades.