Madrid´s 2024 carnival celebrations kicked off yesterday with the traditional pregon in the Matadero plaza.
Madrid´s City Council have organised a packed programme of family and cultural events across the capital from 10th –14th of February including a Grand Parade, the Juego de Identidades and live musical performances.
Like every year the 5 day festivities run from the weekend before Shrove Tuesday up to Ash Wednesday with the traditional celebrations marking the coming of the 40 days of Lent.
The origin of the Carnival is lost in the mist of time but is thought that the early traditions of the festival can be traced back as far as ancient Rome.
When the Empire was christianised in the 4th century the festivities were born along side the marking of Lent and the giving up rich, meaty, sugary foods for 40 days and 40 nights. The people would gather all of the rich food and alcohol they could find and consume it all over the course of one week.
Some of the main highlights this year include the pregon, the Murgas and Chirigotas street musician performances, the Manteo del Pelele blanket-tossing of the straw doll and the symbolic Burial of the Sardine.
The Carnival celebrations are drawn to a close with the ceremonial Burial Of The Sardine , a tradition captured by Goya in one of his paintings. Costumes are put away, the fanfares fall silent and the sardine is buried with honours to indicate that the hour has come to wrap up the festivities and get ready for Lent.
The parody burial procession usually starts at Plaza de San Antonio de la Florida. Later, the sardine is customarily 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 any negative thoughts, with the ashes representing the happiness, peace and harmony that charaterise Madrileños.