The last new moon of winter marks the start of Carnival, a week-long event that fills the city with colour, music and laughter. In 2019, for the fourth year in a row, the bulk of festivities of Madrid Carnival moved to the neighborhoods off the beaten path and it was La Prospe neighborhood at the Chamartín district, who hosted the full program. We hope you join us again in 2020 and, remember, don’t leave without trying the official carnival dessert: the Carnival Sardine!
The city choses a theme each year that inspires the entire Madrid carnival program. The celebration starts with the opening ceremony at the neighborhood that is chosen each year. From that moment on, until Ash Wednesday, Madrid gives itself to party, changing your identity, with events for the whole family, for children and for adults.
The Great Carnival Parade, the Masquerade Ball at the Círculo de Bellas Artes, the Murgas and Chirigotas parade, the Madrid Comparsas parade, tossing of the puppet and finally the party with the symbolic “sardine burial” are just some of the Madrid carnival attractions.
Carnival celebrations draw to a close with the Burial of the Sardine, a tradition captured by Goya in one of his paintings. Costumes are put away, the fanfares fall silent and the humble fish is buried with honors to indicate that the time has come to quit partying and get ready for Lent.
The burial procession starts at Plaza de San Antonio de la Florida, goes along the bridge across the river Manzanares and winds its way along Paseo del Comandante Fortea, Calle Santa Comba, Calle del Doctor Casal and the M-30 underground passage.
Finally, the sardine is buried in the Pajaritos Fountain at Plaza de las Moreras in Casa de Campo Park. An impressive bonfire closes the ceremony, as though driving away all evils and negative thoughts, with the ashes representing the happiness, peace and harmony that charaterise Madrileños.
In 2017, a competition took place to decide the official carnival dessert. The inspiration for the dessert was the traditional burial of the sardine that marks the end of Carnival. David Cristóbal Sánchez, of Pastelería Cercadillo, was the winner in 2017. In 2018, this dessert was established as Madrid’s official Carnival dessert. It is a sardine-shaped completely edible chocolate.
You can find your pack of Carnival sardines in the following confectioners: Bakers&Co, Calamillor, Cercadillo, Horno Castellano, Pastelería América, Pastelería Carmine, Pastelería La Mallorquina, Pastelería Lazcano, Pastelería Mifer, Pastelería Nunos, Pastelería Villa Versalles, Pastelerías Cala-millor, Pastelerías La Oriental, Pastelerías Mallorca, Pastelerías Vait, Viena Capellanes and many more. Plenty of restaurants also include the chocolate sardines in their menu during Carnival.