Carnival starts in Barcelona on Thursday. As in ancient times, it was inevitable. After the most traditional Mercè in years last September the conservative city council now organizes a classic carnival. No longer a large central parade along the Paral·lel with latinos as the protagonists and the rest of town in the role of spectator. Carnestoltes 2012 will be a feast for tots, everyone. The program includes thirty neighborhood parades, an official crowning of El Rei Carnestoltes (Prince Carnival) and masked balls for young and old. Also, the festival ends on a traditional way, with the entierro (funeral) of the sardina, a giant sardine will be carried by mourning locals to its grave in the Parc de la Ciutadella.
Wild popular festival
The inspiration for this “cultural normalization” is the carnival as it was celebrated in 17th century Barcelona. And just like before La Ribera will be the focus of the festivities this year. The carnival of La Ribera – the district is better known by tourists as El Born – was a wildly popular festival, which took place on and around the Passeig del Born. Here the rich and the poor went bonkers for a week.
A century later, the rich were behaving much more conscious about their social rank. The important festivities of the city were no longer celebrated in the streets, among ‘the people’, but within their own circle. We know how the 18th century elite of El Born experienced carnival thanks to Francesch Tagell. In 1720 this clerk described twelve carnival festivities in the palaces of the rich on Carrer de Montcada, ‘the noblest street of the whole city’, now known as the location of the Picasso Museum.
Carnival 2012 in Barcelona: samba and chocolate.
Prince Carnival will be crowned on the Passeig del Born, after which he opens the first masked ball of Carnestoltes 2012 (Passeig del Born, Thursday, February 16 from 17:30). You can find the full program of Carnestoltes 2012 here (in Catalan).
Ad van der Neut
Ad van der Neut is editor/writer and guide for Orange Monkey Tours