Saturday, 21 February 2009


The Spanish celebrate the beginning of Lent in style, waving goodbye to meat with the traditional Carnival ("carne vale"), a week's worth of celebrations every February.

While the Madrid celebrations are apparently tame compared to those of Tenerife and Cadiz, Kate and I were nonetheless pretty impressed by the turn out along Paseo de la Castellana, one of the longest streets in Madrid, as thousands of Madrilenos put on their fancy dress just to watch the parade! It was a lovely warm evening despite it being February as contingents representing South American countires trooped by.
Large mechanical puppets also formed part of the parade, several being in the shape of dragons. St George, however, was not to be seen.

There was definitely a gothic aspect to the whole affair, with witches, devils, skeletons and zombies all well represented among the bands, stilt-walkers, acrobats and party-goers.
This was probably in part a reflection of the Carribbean Carnival's voodoo roots, though we're sure a band of Orcs - or possibly the Finnish rock band Lordi - dashed past at one point. Quite where they fit in we're not sure.

Our favourite part of the parade however wasn't even part of the parade. Following on, just barely in front of the litter collectors, was a bunch of Brazilians banging their drums, dancing and having fun. Whether they weren't allowed to join the parade as Brazil was a Portuguese colony not a Spanish one, or whether they just didn't want to be official, we don't know but we danced along with them for quite a while before heading home.

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