Lent is traditionally a time of fasting and denial, and Carnival is the period before Lent dedicated to the celebration of pleasures, extravagance and indulgence, with an abundance of feasting and dancing. Street parades, float processions, and parties fill many streets and plazas in the city and revellers come dressed in rich costumes. Disguising oneself with a mask or a costume is popular and traditional, and the anonymity can be liberating. Barcelona's Carival begins on 'Greasy Thursday' (Jueres Ladero), the name is a reference to dirty fingers as the main occupation on this day is feasting, with huge banquets enjoyed all over the city. The big parade, Gran Rue, is the highlight of the carnival, with ornate floats and performing troupes parading through the city streets. A mock funeral procession on Ash Wednesday marks the end of the festivities, when it is traditional to eat fish and exchange the colourful garb of the festival for sombre black. Although the Carnival is in many ways a playful celebration of sin, much of it is innocent fun and children will love all the costumes and parades, so parents needn't feel that the festivities are inappropriate for kids.
Date: 27 February to 5 March 2014