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The best carnivals in Europe

Costumes, parades, music and colour are at the heart of all carnivals, but every city has its owns customs and traditions. Today we would like to invite you to travel and discover what the carnival is like across Europe.

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To the Carnival Beat in Tenerife

No question about it – there is one time in the year when Santa Cruz de Tenerife comes alive, and that is at Carnival time. It is world famous, extremely popular and one of the biggest on earth, rivalling Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (it’s twin city) and Venice. Tourists, sightseers and fun lovers who head for this spot in the Canary Island archipelago end up hopelessly drawn in by the beat, the dazzle and the colour of this splendid fiesta. Lasting for a month, it features a host of activities showcasing mainly music and fancy dress.

This time around, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife lasts from 1 February to 5 March. As in previous years, thousands of people in fancy dress roam the streets, eager to fall under the spell of Carnival magic. The festivities are hosted by over a hundred groups of around fifty people each, compering murgas (ensembles singing to satirical lyrics), comparsas (dancing carnival troupes), fancy dress groups, rondallas (street bands) and musical troupes – quite a feat! Take note of the following rundown of the highlights of the Tenerife Carnival for your requisite getaway.

The Carnival Queen

One of the loveliest moments in the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is the Gran Gala, at which the Carnival Queen is elected. Beholding the spectacular costumes studded with rhinestones, glittering ornaments and elegant feathers is a magical experience. Amazingly, those costumes can weigh up to between 150 and 200 kilos and have to be transported on wheels. A stunning, must-see extravaganza!

The Opening Horse Parade

As its name suggests, this event marks the start of Carnival and what better way to get the ball rolling? In style, with a spectacular horse parade at which all the Carnival troupes march past, including the queens and maids of honour, who ride in carriages escorted by the troupes. Four hours of rhythmic percussion and Latin beat which extend well into the night.

Carnival Saturday

Another date to jot down on your Carnival agenda is Carnival Saturday, when the streets of the city again become inundated with music and dance. Most of the activity is centred around the Plaza de la Candelaria, the Plaza del Príncipe and the Plaza de Europa.

The Gran Coso Apoteosis

This celebration, the veritable closing ceremony of Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is possibly one of the most exciting moments in the festivities. It is the day all the carnival troupes, carriages, floats and queens parade along the Avenida de Anaga, marking the grand finale of Carnival proceedings.

Ash Wednesday

Like any Carnival worth its salt, the arrival of Lent is heralded by the “burial of the sardine”. The event takes place in the main city streets, suitably draped in mourning, with balconies sporting black ribbons. A giant sardine is paraded through the streets, before being ceremoniously burned at the end of its itinerary. The Tinerfeños or inhabitants of Tenerife bid farewell to Carnival by staging their sorrow in the form of a lament, although they also mark the occasion in comical satire and by lampooning the Church. So, don’t be surprised if, while wandering through the streets, you come across people dressed up mostly as priests, bishops or monks carrying sexual props of all kinds.

Book your Vueling to Tenerife, don your fancy dress and get into festive mood as you attend one of the most popular Carnivals in the world.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Image by Philippe Teuwen

 

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Revelling in the Carnival of Milan

Milan is celebrated as having one of the highest economic development rates among Italy’s cities. It is also famed for being one of the international hubs of fashion and design. When considering a trip to this incredible city, we inevitably think of attending one of its great fashion shows, roaming through its boundless Furniture Fair or delighting in window shopping its fabulous stores and splashing out on the amazing apparel, if we can afford it.

Some head for Milan to soak up its cultural assets by visiting its most emblematic monuments, notably the Duomo or the Castello Sforzesco, relishing the artworks housed in the Pinacoteca di Brera, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the Museo del Novecento, or venturing into the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. There, the art lover is greeted by one of the icons of art history, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Then again, others prefer to don their finery to attend an opera performance in the iconic Teatro alla Scala.

The Carnevale Ambrosiano

No less celebrated is one of Milan’s more spirited, entertaining facets – its Carnival. When the subject of Italy’s carnivals comes up, it is common to talk about the two most popular instances in the land. First, the Venice Carnival, with its magnificent face masks and spectacular period costumes, which unfolds against the magical backdrop of that unique city. The other is the Viareggio Carnival, where festival-goers never fail to be amazed by the mechanical ingenuity of the floats that file past during the parade.

The Carnevale Ambrosiano, as Milan’s carnival is known, offers a peculiarity which makes it stand out from the rest – its duration. Carnival usually ends on Carnival Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, which then gives way to Ash Wednesday, marking the start of Lent. In the case of Milan, it extends four more days, lasting until the Saturday, known locally as Sabato Grasso. And, it’s not merely because of some whim, as the reason for its duration is related to a long-standing legend. It is said that the bishop, St Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan, who happened to be on a long pilgrimage in foreign lands, requested an extension of Carnival until his return to the city, as he wished to celebrate the start of Lent with all his people.

Like any noteworthy carnival, the Milan Carnival prizes itself on its parades and street festivities, characterised by a fanfare of colour, music and festive atmosphere. On the Saturday, the crowning event is a grand parade which ends in one of the city’s most emblematic spots, the Piazza del Duomo.

One of the standout aspects of this Carnival is the traditional costume known as the Meneghino. Just as the figure of the harlequin is traditional in Bergamo, or Pantaleon in Venice, the Milan Carnival has its own popular figure, drawn from the Italian Commedia dell'arte. TheMeneghinocan be spotted by his three-cornered hat.

Among the traditional confectionery loved by the Milanese are the chiacchiere and bugie, simple fried pastries made of flour and coated in castor sugar which are ideal for topping up your strength between one street party and the next.

Don your mask and come to Milan to delight in its Carnival!

 

Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by gnuckx

 

 

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Málaga Carnival Rhythm

If you go to Málaga in February, you are likely to be rewarded with a festive surprise over and above the city’s historical heritage, its incredible variety of museums, its beaches and its cuisine, in the shape of their Carnival. Indeed, when it comes to carnivals, Malagueñans would not be outclassed by the famous Carnival of Cádiz.

This year, from 30 January to 7 February, Málaga will be decked out in all its fancy-dress finery and turned into a veritable fiesta, a tribute to one of the raciest celebrations of the year – Carnival. But, what makes these festivities so special as to become a must-see?

1. A Splendid Climate

Situated in the south of Spain and bathed by the increasingly warmer waters of the Mediterranean, Málaga has a mild winter, enabling people to enjoy any outdoor activity to the full. This is also true of Carnival, known locally as the Fiesta del Invierno Cálido (Warm Winter Fiesta).

2. Murgas, Troupes and Quartet Gatherings

One of the highlights of this carnival are the gatherings of murgas, comparsas and quartets in the Teatro Cervantes, where they compete to be the wickedest band on stage and to see who delivers the wittiest song lyrics. While we’re at it, if you’re thinking of attending any of these performances, be sure to book ahead to avoid missing the shows.

3. Culinary Schedule

It couldn’t be otherwise – gastronomy plays a crucial role in Málaga’s Carnival, where traditional fare takes pride of place. The dishes you are most likely to encounter include berza (collard greens), potajes (vegetable stews), noodles, rices and paella, while the ongoing carnival background music is provided by the songs known as coplas.

4. Parades, Goddesses, Drag Queens and Even a Flower Fight

No carnival worth its salt could be without its parades, designed to delight the crowds with the colourful display of their variegated fancy dresses. One of the Malagueñan traditions that has endured to the present is the Flower Battle, which takes place in the Alameda Principal, at which petals and coloured paper flowers fly in all directions. The event has its origins in the 19th century, when the working classes took advantage of the carnival atmosphere to “assault” the privileged classes by throwing flowers at them as they filed past in their posh floats.

High notes of the parades include the election of the Carnival Gods and the Drag Queen Gala.

5. The Anchovy Burial

The anchovy, a fish which abounds in Málaga, is the protagonist of the last day of Carnival. At the “Anchovy Burial”, known here as the boqueroná,a procession is held at which a huge anchovy-shaped figure is paraded through the streets, from the central Calle Larios to La Malagueta Beach, where it ends up being torched.

Málaga – Aside from Carnival

Once you’re in Málaga, frenzied carnival merrymaking permitting, do take the chance to visit some of the many marvels to be seen in that beautiful city. We can wholeheartedly recommend Málaga Cathedral, built on the orders of the Catholic Kings when they conquered the city; the Alcazaba, a formidable Moorish fortress dating from the 11th century, the Roman Theatre and the beautiful Atarazanas Central Market, built over a former Nasrid naval shipyards of which the original marble door has been preserved. And, as befits the birthplace of Picasso, make sure you visit some of the art centres, which have turned Málaga into one of the favourite destinations of art lovers.

Put on your fancy dress and take a Vueling to Málaga to delight in its magnificent Carnival.

 

Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Fundación Carnaval de Málaga

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