Welcome to Madrid
Every year the last full moon of winter brings us Carnival, an event that fills the streets with music and laughter. In 2020 the festivities were held in the area around Madrid Río and Matadero Madrid -the epicentre changes every year from district to district- and were a wonderful fusion of traditions from Madrid and from Latin American countries. The dates are already confirmed for 2021: Friday 12 February to Wednesday 17 (Ash Wednesday).
The Carnival Parade, the inaugural speech, the Masquerade Ball at the Círculo de Bellas Artes (Saturday 13, midnight), the Manteo del Pelele tossing of the puppet (Sunday 14, midnight), the Murgas and Chirigotas street musician peformances (Sunday 14, midnight), the Madrid Comparsas musical event (Tuesday 16) and the symbolic “Burial of the sardine” (Wednesday 17) are some of the top highlights of the festivities.
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 wrap up the celebrations 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 (Check out the map).
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.
Carnival is one of the city’s most well-known traditions, and the Burial of the Sardine is a particularly popular event. As a tribute to the deceased sardine, for the past few years the city’s main bakeries, restaurants and markets have put on sale an original Carnival Sardine which you can purchase throughout the festivities. They come in all sizes and made from different ingredients, both sweet and savoury.