The festivities of Carnival ended this week on Ash Wednesday.
The tradition has been around since the 16th century, representing a rich part of Madrid’s culture.
The occasion slowly evolved to have street processions until 1936 when the Spanish Civil War began. For 44 years after that the Franco dictatorship banned them until they started again in the 1980s. It has since been stopped for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but since 2022 the festivities have been back.
This year the celebrations started Saturday, February 18 with a Carnaval parade at Parque Madrid Río from 12:00 to 14:00. The parade kicks off the celebration with dancing, music and partying.There are three symbols represented in the parade: mythological Madrid, Madrid of the Austrians and Madrid of the Movida.
They are seen as the three main moments in the city that unite the different cultures to enjoy one of the most fun celebrations Madrid has to offer. It is typical to see tightrope walkers, giant ladies, swordsmen, stilt walkers, skaters and jugglers.
During the initial parade the traditional proclamation was made by Fernando Gil, an actor most well-known for his role on the Netflix original series, Machos Alfa. The traditional proclamation is read by a famous person to signify the beginning of the celebration.
That same night The Círculo de Bellas Artes hosted a masquerade ball. It was first organized in 1891 at the Teatro de la Comedia. Since then the ball has become more than just a part of Carnaval and reigns as an event of its own.
During this time, Matadero Madrid also hosted a variety of festivities including a musical festival with multiple local artists and DJs.
Along with the Manteo del Pelele, a Arrabel Castilian culture inspired event where a puppet is dressed up in traditional Madridian clothes and is made to perform to live music on stage. On Sunday morning, the puppet was dressed up and taken to the center with the help of the crowd, while opening up his cape as a grand display.
A newer addition to the traditional celebration of Carnaval took place on Sunday afternoon was the Chirigotas y Comparsas at Plaza Legazpi. It consisted of a meeting with different Carnaval groups performing songs about current social, political, and sports issues. Many of the performances had a comedic aire to it that made the crowds both laugh and see the issues they brought up.
One of the final events of the almost five-day long celebration is the 250th Burial of the Sardine which consists of a funeral procession that ends in Casa de Campo at the Fuente de los Pajaritos. The burial represents the burial of the past to allow society to be reborn and transformed for the better.
The fourth edition of the procession started at Plaza de San Antonio de la Florida, making its way into Comandante Fortea, Santa Comba and Doctor Casals until they got into Casa de Campo at 21:00. They followed the River Manzanares which was lined with more than a hundred establishments to offer their original interpretations of sardines to honor the tradition.
The burial is commemorated with a large fire to purge past vices. A large fire is a common Spanish tradition after a celebration to allow everyone to be renewed after the festivities. This year’s celebration sparked a great deal of energy and joy in the city, remaining a large part of its culture.