There is never much of a break between fiestas in Spain as end of year festivities, saint’s days, birthdays and local fiestas of each town barely allow us to catch our breath before the next celebration begins. It was just over a month ago we were celebrating the Epiphany with the arrival of the Three Kings delivering presents to every home. This week it was time to celebrate Carnaval in Menorca, which included five days of fun where residents of the island both young and old made the most of the opportunity to dress up and party.
Whilst the scheduled events differ from town to town, everyone celebrates Carnaval in Menorca on the same days surrounding the last weekend before Ash Wednesday. In this respect modern day Carnaval keeps with the centuries old tradition of being the last big party before the 40 days of Lent. In Menorca it is referred to as ‘Els Darrer Dies de Carnaval’, meaning ‘The Last Days of Carnival’.
This year Carnaval was celebrated between Thursday 16th February and Tuesday 21st February. Each of the towns of Menorca hosted their Carnaval activities within these days and preparations started in the weeks beforehand in schools creating costumes.
Some of the youngest children dressed up with their classes on the Thursday, but most dress up at school on the Friday and as a group all classes parade around town in the middle of the day. The costumes are always very creative and clever, with full credit going to the teachers for their coordination of all the children. To see the kids en mass on the streets in the colourful towns of Menorca on a mild winter day is always a great start to the festivities.
The afternoons and evenings from Friday to Monday consist of various activities each day, with each town having a particular day where the celebrations are the biggest.
Friday is the big day in Ciutadella where a mini disco is set up in the centre of town to entertain the kids, and most parents of younger children accompany their little ones in a different costume to that of school. Later on at night there is the Baile de Carnaval, the Carnival Ball at the Casino for adults. Its always a full event and a fantastic photo opportunity. The day ends with a party in the nightclubs and bars of the Port of Ciutadella. The celebrations continue on Saturday evening as well, concluding on Sunday afternoon withe the parade of floats up the main street of Camí de Maó.
Saturday is the big day for Ferreries and Maó where the centre of both towns host parades with music bands, floats and costumes, competitions for the best costumes and float and evening Carnival Balls. Both towns also finish the celebrations with bars and clubs filling to the brim with people in disguise.
Monday night the party moves to Alaior, which is also well known for its Baile de Carnaval and many residents travel from one side of the island to the other celebrate each ball on different days. Some more enthusiastic partygoers prepare two seperate costumes for each occasion!
Finally on Tuesday evening Sant Lluis hosts its Carnival Ball, whist most of the other towns mark Shrove Tuesday with a barbeque Sobrasada lunch with family and friends.
Carnaval is celebrated in many places around the world with spectacular street parties and parades. The most famous in Spain are held in Cadiz and the Canary Islands where Carnaval is considered to be the biggest event of the year. Menorca is famous for its local fiestas in summer featuring the purebred horses of the island. But Carnaval is a great party where ever you are and Menorcans sure know how to host a fiesta!