Events 

Carnivals

The people of Extremadura celebrate their carnival to the utmost; in some towns, they take such care of every detail of this festival, that it has been declared a Festivity of Tourist Interest.

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Regional masquerade

The people of Extremadura celebrate their carnival to the utmost; in some towns, they take such care of every detail of this festival, that it has been declared a Festivity of Tourist Interest.

The people of Extremadura celebrate their carnival to the utmost; in some towns, they take such care of every detail of this festival, that it has been declared a Festivity of Tourist Interest.

Carnival is a festival from olden days. In fact, some people say it comes from Roman times. Nonetheless, the festival, as we know it today, is more likely to have descended from the medieval traditions of the Battle between Carnival and Lent. Wherever it comes from, what we do know is that it is celebrated with special passion in Extremadura.

One event is the Badajoz Carnival – doubtless the most important festival for all the inhabitants of Badajoz. It is so vital for them that they have even dedicated a museum to it.

The Badajoz Carnival has been declared a Festivity of National Tourist Interest. Its last day is Shrove Tuesday – the day before Ash Wednesday, when Lent starts – and that Tuesday, the San Roque neighbourhood hosts the popular Burial of the Sardine. If you go to the festival, remember that the deceased animal is accompanied on this "tragic" day by over 20,000 people, amongst them "widows" who go along mourning it, and also the "comparsas" (groups of singers), who are saying "goodbye" to their favourite festival until the following year, and who will finish up with a breakfast of typical pastries, anisette and coffee with "migas" (bread paste). As the grand finale after the parade that day, bread, wine and sardines will be shared to everyone who wants some. Don't miss your share!

But this tremendous finale comes after many very intense days of Carnival. The first Carnival event each year is the Murgas' (Satirical Singers') Competition, which finishes just as the shot is fired to start Carnival on Opening Day. Sharp, smart words that are also poetic and contain a lot of feeling have an appointment at the López de Ayala Theatre during the competition, which is transmitted by the local and regional media. On the following days, you can hear the "murgas" sing in bars, streets and squares. During Carnival, you'll come across masks, singing and dancing everywhere in Badajoz. 

Another of the crucial moments of the Badajoz Carnival is the Comparsas' Parade, which is held on Sunday. It is perfectly organised so that the public get the maximum enjoyment from it (so much so that the Comparsas are actually penalised if they are late in their pageant) where the groups wear the new fancy-dress costumes they have worked so hard on throughout the year, and dance along to the beat of the percussion. Don't miss it – but wear fancy dress if you don't want to feel like the odd one out. Because everyone in Badajoz dresses up for Carnival.

Another important carnival in Extremadura is the one in Navalmoral de la Mata. It has been declared a Festivity of Regional Tourist Interest and has survived to modern day intact – with all its traditions, because during the dictatorship, when carnivals were forbidden, the inhabitants disguised this holiday as a "Winter Festival". So they never actually stopped holding Carnival in Navalmoral.

It is celebrated with such passion that, from Ash Wednesday of the previous year, the "murgas" and "comparsas" already begin thinking and working on their costumes, lyrics and choreography for the following year. And these days of preparation are the best ones for them. It doesn't matter how much work or time they put in each day getting ready for the festival because it all comes to fruition when the Comparsas parade down the main streets of the town, either on foot or on huge floats made for the occasion, filling every corner of Navalmoral de la Mata with happiness, colour and fun – which is the whole point.

The festival, which is an over 300-year-old tradition, begins with the Election of the Queen and her Ladies-in-Waiting – the first explosion of joy and colour in this festival. So the young women and girls get all sparkled up with fantasy. The parade of floats and comparsas is on "Fat" Sunday and, on Monday, the day is dedicated to children. On Tuesday, there is another parade and the festival ends with the traditional "Burial of the Sardine".

If you are going to Navalmoral de la Mata at that time, choose a good fancy dress. That's the only way to experience this Winter Festival to the utmost and in tune with the inhabitants.

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