Carnival is almost here! Dates in 2020: February 21 – 26 (Friday prior to Ash Wednesday)
Learn more about Carnival history and other Spanish Carnivals. http://www.bridgetospain.com/carnival/
City Hall preview program click HERE
Again the Carnival program has varied from the traditional program – more activities in different neighborhoods, more multi-cultural. That’s good – but the current page is a little hard to navigate , and I don’t see link for English version (alas).
These are the usual main events:
Carnival Friday. Mostly kid’s events in afternoon-evening. Looks like again the traditional “pregón” kickoff ceremony has moved to Saturday (dang, really should be on Friday, already a lot going on for Saturday).
Carnival Saturday. There used to be a parade on Saturday night but in past few years that has not happened, with lots of daytime activities instead. This year the parade is 12 noon starting in Piramides, following Madrid Rio park to Arganzuela / Matadero, arriving around 2pm with activities at the end of the route. Traditionally the Carnival parade has some lightly-clad people and maybe some light-hearted naughtiness, but switching to daytime and family-friendly has probably toned that down at least a little, just sayin’ so you know before you go. Music around the Matadero until 8.30pm. // Costume ball in Circulo de Bellas Artes, starting 11.30pm, tickets 30-40 euros. If you can’t go, maybe you can hang out nearby to see the costumes, usually fabulous. More info and get tickets https://www.circulobellasartes.com/espectaculos/carnaval-2020-baile/
Carnival Sunday. Various activities at the Matadero: 11 am “Manteo del Pelele”, which is tossing a big rag doll (pelele) into the air with a blanket (manta). 12 noon Murgas and chirigotas: various groups in costume with song, dance and original poetry, mostly jokes or satire on recent events, sort of an oral history of past year. Best if your Spanish is good, but fun to see the costumes anyway. 1-2PM Iberoamerican Gastronomy (Nave 16.2)
Ash Wednesday. Burial of the Sardine, marking end of Carnival and beginning of Lent. NEW SCHEDULING! Mock funeral procession for the dearly departed .. sardine, organized by the Merry Brotherhood of the Burial of the Sardine. Complete with mourners in capes and tophats, women in black with veils, all wailing their grief at the death of the … sardine. The pallbears courteously stop for occasional viewings of the deceased.. sardine… or break into dance and loop the loop with the coffin. Slow procession to edge of the Casa de Campo for the Burial, stops at bars along the way to better bear the grief. Return to San Antonio chapel. This is lots of fun, if you haven’t seen it you should go at least once while here, though patience is useful because it’s pretty stop and go so you may need to roam to find the fun in the procession. Kids might or might not get it. Take your cameras. As a side note: if you can’t go in the afternoon, you could try to find their morning strolls near the upper Rastro, or around 3pm in the Plaza Mayor where someone from City Hall should be present to share the mourners’ grief for the dear, departed sardine (note: our city hall changed in June and new team is a wee bit less interested in this kind of event, so not clear what Official Presence will attend). Get more info at the Brotherhood’s website at http://www.elentierrodelasardina.es/entierrodelasardina/Inicio.html Where and when: Now two parts to the event: morning 10am – 3pm, a slightly more official version of the Brotherhood wandering Old Madrid, sampling wine at various bars, ending in the Plaza Mayor with their sort of official statement about their event (umm. nothing about the Entierro is serious), and a bit of music. In the evening: 5-30 – 9pm Traditional procession starts at San Antonio de la Florida (usually congregate at bridge by San Antonio chapel on Paseo de la Florida, next to Casa Mingo). Probably some big-head and giant figures, traditional in Spanish folk processions. Remember this tends to be slooooooow, so you might want to go later or cut out earlier.