The biggest winter event in Malaga is taking place this week: Malaga Carnival 2023. The Carnival is officially celebrated from Saturday 11th to Sunday 19th, February 2023. Together with other festivities like the Christmas lights, Easter and Malaga fair, Carnival is one of the biggest events happening in the city. The carnival attracts more than 600,000 visitors with its elaborate parades, street food, concerts, dancing and drag queens. If you want to learn more about the carnival, its origins, highlights, activities you should not miss, then continue reading this ultimate guide to party during Malaga Carnival.
1. Origins of the Carnival
Carnival is a festival with Pegan origins that represents the mixture of many ancient cultures. Depending on the country the activities may vary but in Spain they most often consist of streets parades, song contests, costume parties.
The Carnival of Malaga dates back from the 16th century when the clergy of the Cathedral was assigned to chose the brightest and ingenious boy who was dressed in bishop’s clothes and made a march to the internal part of the Cathedral. Local people dressed up and wore masks while many religious activities took place in front of them. This tradition disappeared soon because it was disturbing locals’ peaceful life but in the beginning of the 18th century it came back. The festival was recovered for the working class and during this period people change their clothes from dark to bright colours.
The first troupe appeared at the end of the 18th century which sang songs which satirized god Bacchus and the coronation of the tenth king of Spain. The Carnival continued thriving each year until the arrival of the dictatorship during which it disappeared. After 1975 which marks the end of the dark period in Spain, began the collection of letters from old carnival street musicians (folk songs) in order to revive the tradition of celebrating Carnival.
Today the Carnival in Malaga is one of the biggest winter festivals and has an important role in local’s lifestyle. Furthermore the carnival represents the youthful spirit of the town as well as art, cultures and passion. A long waited event that attracts many tourists each year to the beautiful Malaga, the capital of Costa del Sol.
2. Malaga Carnival 2023-Highlights
Malaga Carnival 2023 offers its visitors a diverse and entertainment programme. The festivities start with the selection of God and Goddess of the Carnival and ends with a giant boqueroná (anchovy) parading through the city reaching the La Malagueta beach. After that the anchovy is burnt in a big bonfire which symbolizes the end of the Carnival and the beginning of the Sprint.
What you can see during the Carnival are people dressed up in funny costumes, bands for street musicians, street parades for children and adults. Contestants from different regions come to Malaga and participate in the Carnival Singing Contest (similar to the one in Cadiz) in the Teatro Cervantes.
An essential part of the carnival is also the gastronomy. The traditional dishes vary per district and include cabbages, casseroles, rice dishes, stews and much more. If you are coming to Malaga for the Carnival and want to get a taste of delicious typical Spanish dishes and famous wines you are more than welcome to join the Malaga Wine and Tapas Tour | Malaga Food Tour for the ultimate culinary experience.
3. Malaga Carnival 2023-Official Schedule
Below you can find the the full programme during Malaga Carnival 2023. The event starts Saturday 11th February and last until Sunday 19th February. Most of the events take place at the city historic quarters (Casco Historico) and Plaza de la Constitutions where a stage is built for the conduction
Official Event Schedule
Saturday 11th February- Malaga Carnival 2023 Opening
Malaga Carnival Opening– The official start of the festivities
Location and time: Plaza de la Constitución at 8pm
Election of Carnival God and Goddess: Come and see the election of the two most important figures who will represent the Carnival until its end
Location and time: Plaza de la Constitución at 9pm
Malaga’s Carnival Drag Queen Contest: Come, chose and support your favourite drag queen and help her win her crown!
Location and time: Plaza de la Constitución at 10pm
Sunday 12th February- Official Parade
Official Parade Malaga 2023: Join the cheerful parade and follow the crowd all the way through the city. Bring your own costume and mask and join the carrousels of coplas, murgas and comparsas, all dressed up in fancy costumes. The Gods are also present, with their original and large outfits. The route usually begins at Plaza de fray Alonso de Santo Tomás and ends at Plaza de la Merced.
Location and time: Plaza de fray Alonso de Santo Tomás at 5.30pm.
Monday 13th February-Thursday 16th February: Malaga Children Carnival, Games and Concerts
Children’s carnival: A carnival organized for the youngest visitors to enjoy music and fun activities.
Location and time: Plaza de la Constituciòn at 5pm
You can also attend the Carnival’s Concerts which is taking place at the historical centre and enjoy the traditional Spanish songs and dances. Dive into the atmosphere of the Carnival let the rhythm guide you thorough out the event.
Location and time: Plaza de la Constituciòn at 8pm.
Friday 17th February: The Parade of God and Goddess of the Carnival
This reduced version of the official Carnival is a nice opportunity to enjoy the Carnival’s music, dances and euphoria. In addition you have the opportunity to see your favourite Gods of the Carnival again.
Location and time: Plaza de la Constitución at 12pm.
Saturday 18th February: Goodbye Parade of the Gods, Flower Battle and Malaga Carnival Singing Contest
Goodbye Parade of the Gods: A parade where you can say goodbye to the Gods of the Carnival
Location and time: Plaza de la Constitución at 6pm
Flowers Battle: An event where everybody throws colourful paper petals and streamers at each other. Be ready to get a shower of more than thousands flower’s petals.
Location and time: Calle Larios at 8 pm.
Grand Finale, Malaga Carnival Singing Contest: Do you want to see the winner of the singing concert? Then join the Grand Finale of the Singing Contest and enjoy the lovely music and atmosphere the contest creates.
Location and time: Plaza de la Constitución at 9pm.
Sunday 19th February: Free food!
Gran boqueroná: Do you want to taste a free potion of the famous Malaga fried anchovies? Then don’t miss the Gran boqueroná.
Location and time: Plaza de la Constitución at 2pm.
The burial of Anchovy/Sardines: The carnival ends with a parade which will lead you the La Malagueta beach where the statue of an Anchovy will be burnt in the fire. This marks the end of the festivities and beginning of Sprint.
If you want to discover more about the beautiful city of Malaga then you can check the website https://www.andalucia.org/en/provincia-Malaga. Moreover if you want to find inspiration about your daily activities in the city, you can check thе article Top 20 Fun Things to Do in Malaga.