The best Carnival destinations in Spain

Dating back to the Middle Ages, Carnival festivities are amongst the oldest in Spain and the world! Their origins are believed to be related to the start of Lent and the feasts held in the days before this period of reflection.

Nowadays, carnivals are a full-on party bursting with colour, joy and fun that is celebrated in very different ways in different parts of the world. In Spain, far removed from the formality of the carnivals of Venice and the excesses of Brazil, Carnival festivities are fun for all ages, when participants can enjoy being someone else for a few days.

With this in mind, which are the best destinations for celebrating Carnival in Spain? Find out for yourself with Renfe!

The people of Cadiz have carnival in their blood, that's just how important it is to them! There's no surprise that over the course of these days, choirs, comparsas and chirigotas take to the city's streets to entertain people with their irony, jokes and critical take on today's world. Music and costumes also play a critical role in these celebrations, as do the many shows that can be found throughout the city for visitors and locals alike.

If that weren't enough, the occasion also sees the Official Carnival Groups Contest. A veritable show that is not to be missed! The four different types of participants (choirs, comparsas, chirigotas and quartets) present their songs before an attentive jury, with the grand final that this year is on 17 February.

Granted International Tourism Interest status, the Badajoz Carnival is a hidden gem dating back more than 40 years, in which music, dance and mockery come together to celebrate one of the largest carnivals in Spain.

In Badajoz, carnival time is sacred. It is one of the most deeply-rooted festivals in the city, which for a long time was banned and buried in Badajoz, until in 1981 it was restored with renewed strength, restoring the celebrations again for future generations.

Allow yourself to be surprised by the colourful carnival celebrations and don your best costume... Who knows, you might win one of the many costume contests held throughout the city!

Consult Renfe's time tables and special trains from Villanueva de la Serena - Mérida - Badajoz.

While in the carnival festivities of Cádiz and Badajoz, humour is the absolute king, in Sitges the colour, partying with a capital P and colourful costumes are the stars of the show. Young people and adults alike participate in this carnival, considered one of the 10 best in the world, with parades that see more than 50 floats and around 3000 people participate.

Let yourself get carried away by the music, sequins, colour and partying at one of the most extravagant and fun carnivals in Spain. See for yourself how the whole town gets involved in the preparation of costumes, the organisation of contests and the design of impressive floats that take to the streets of Sitges. Are you going to miss it?

  • Ourense

    Galicia is a destination that is famous for living and enjoying Carnival to the fullest and Ourense is an excellent example of this. Many Galician towns celebrate the "Entroido", which is how Carnival is popularly known in Galicia. Carnival festivities date back centuries and are deeply rooted and traditional amongst locals. The Carnival of Laza (Ourense) has been granted Tourist Interest status and is considered the oldest in the region, although it is by no means the only carnival. With the carnivals of Xinzo de Limia and Verín, they form a funny little triangle of carnivals in Galicia. They all feature multiple colourful characters with masks and cowbells that roam the towns' streets during the festivities.

    The city of Ourense itself also has its own Carnival, when the streets are filled with a festive atmosphere. What are you waiting for to discover the magic of Galicia's carnivals?
  • Madrid

    The capital also comes alive during Carnival! From Carnival Friday to Ash Wednesday, take to the streets of Madrid to enjoy the festivities. The city has its own Grand Carnival Parade and the traditional Masquerade Ball held at the Círculo de Bellas Artes. The murgas and chirigotas, in Plaza de la Villa, are an unmissable part of the carnival festivities of Madrid. There is no doubting that the city of Madrid comes alive with colour and a great atmosphere to celebrate these festivities.

    They come to an end with "El Entierro de la Sardina", held on Ash Wednesday, with a large bonfire, where the fire symbolises the burning of bad decisions and the ashes represent shoots of joy.

Carnival time... by train!

Got you in the mood for a fun getaway? At Renfe, we have prepared the following routes for you to travel to the best carnivals in Spain in the fastest, most comfortable and sustainable way possible, without having to worry about driving there!