Carnival weekend ends in a wake of candy and glitter
The weekend saw a parade with the winning performers from 2017, as well as a candy battle marked by the current political climate
After high expectations, Catalan carnival certainly delivered. Celebrations officially kicked off on Thursday with the arrival of the Carnival King and a meringue food fight. Many chose to celebrate in the capital of Barcelona and the southern seaside town of Sitges, but festivities were going off all throughout the country.
It started on Sunday morning, in the coastal town of Vilanova i la Geltrú, south of the Catalan capital. This is the same place that, on Thursday, hosted a very sweet tradition indeed: a food fight using the creamy meringue confection to kick off the celebrations. But the town wasn’t finished there.
On Sunday morning, the traditions began with carnival performers (or ‘comparses’ in Catalan) walking through the towns with a partner, in traditional dress and armed with bagfuls of candy to give out. They all met up in the Town Square, and around midday, following a loudspeaker announcement, the battle began! This is the ‘La Guerra dels Caramels,’ a candy war using the rainbow sweets distributed that morning.
This 2018 showdown was a bit different than years prior, though. In fact, a protest demanding the release of political prisoners was also held in the main square of the town, under a large yellow ribbon in support of exiled and imprisoned Catalan leaders, visible on the Town Hall façade. Pro-independence leaders were present, including officials from the parliamentary Junts per Catalunya party, of which Carles Puigdemont is leader.
Then, in the also southern town of Tarragona, a parade was held to showcase the winning carnival stars from 2015. On Sunday night, performers from the 15 most celebrated ‘comparses’ of the year before danced through the streets, to an audience of an awe-struck crowd.
This followed a Carnival Saturday in the same town which saw about 2,000 participants and 29 ‘comparses,’ some of whom will be soon chosen as 2018’s best. But carnival isn’t just all about winning. A participant from the Sinhus Sport ‘comparsa’ float, to which the reigning king and queen of carnival belong, explained what the meaning of carnival was, to him. As Paco Fiori detailed, while wearing a simple windbreaker contrasted with his glittering green face paint, the festivities are about “expectations, fantasy, and enjoying yourself as much as you can.”