Whatever month of the year you decide to visit marvelous Malaga, you are sure to have a fun-filled time. And even more fun is guaranteed if your visit coincides with one of the many fiestas the city has. Our very long Christmas holiday season ends on January 6th. Then we have a few weeks to recover before the next big fiesta: Carnaval.
When is Carnaval Malaga?
The dates of Carnaval Malaga depend on when Easter falls. Carnaval is traditionally celebrated the week before Lent. Most of the official events take place over two weekends. However, the Carnaval atmosphere continues throughout the week on the city streets.
As well, the main street of Malaga, Calle Larios, is illuminated with an archway of spectacular lights that stretches the whole length of the street.
In Malaga, Carnaval 2024 starts on Saturday February 3rd and ends on Sunday February 11th. The majority of the events are based in the main square Plaza de la Constitucion and the main shopping street Calle Larios.
What is the reason for celebrating Carnaval?
The word Carnaval comes from the word ‘carne’ which means meat in Spanish.
Carnaval in Spanish- speaking countries is celebrated the week before Lent- the forty days before Easter when Christians traditionally give up certain ‘pleasures of the flesh’. Therefore, Carnaval is associated with a period of permissiveness and partying.
Carnaval traditions- and dates- across Spain differ depending on the region. In the south, particularly famous is the Carnaval of Cadiz. However, in recent years Málaga has jumped on the Carnaval band-wagon and offers a similar version of that in Cadiz.
The most typical tradition in the carnavals of Malaga and Cadiz are the ‘chirigotas’- groups of singers that go around the city singing original songs. Usually, they all wear the same costume and the songs are typically commentaries on current politics, politicians, social issues, Spanish family life and work etc.
Interestingly, one of the great qualities of the Spanish people is that they are able to make fun of themselves. Consequently, Carnaval is a great example of this very Spanish trait. Even if you don’t understand Spanish, we guarantee that you will be highly entertained by these singing groups. (In the past, the chirigotas were always groups of men, but in recent years there are more and more female groups of singers).
In the city of Málaga, many of its neighbourhoods have their own Carnaval celebrations in the weeks before the official Carnaval of the city centre. So, depending on where you are staying you might be pleasantly surprised with a party in the streets!
The First Weekend of Carnaval Málaga 2024
On the First Saturday:
The official opening ceremony (‘pregón’) in the Plaza de la Constitución- the main square of Malaga. This is when the new Carnaval Malaga anthem is presented and the God and Goddess of Carnaval are crowned.
On the first Sunday:
Around midday, the Children’s Carnaval officially starts with the election of princes and gods as well as a best fancy-dress competition
Later in the afternoon, the Grand Carnaval Parade marches through the streets of the historical centre. As well. there are various shows in the Plaza de la Constitución. The parade starts in Plaza de Fray Alonso on the west side of the River Guadalmedina. It then works its way through the city centre and ends in the Plaza de la Merced around 9 p.m.
During the week, there are no official events, but the carnival atmosphere continues as the satirical singing chirigota groups compete with each other on every corner of the city streets, providing free entertainment for all to enjoy.
The Second Weekend of Carnaval Málaga
Friday 9th February don’t miss the Drag Queens Gala
18:00h – Don’t miss the cutest Carnaval Malaga parade of all- the children’s parade!
21:00h- The Drag Queens Gala takes place in the main square of the city: Plaza de la Constitución. This event becomes more and more popular every year, so get there early to find a good spot. The gala this year will feature a performance of the ‘Butchqueens’.
Saturday 10th February – lots of Carnaval Malaga activities!
12:00h After the kids parade of yesterday, it’s time to award the best costume prizes for the little ones.
18:00h The Grand Parade of the gods and goddesses of Carnaval Malaga and the chirigotas (singing groups) will parade from the main square Plaza de la Constitución and wend its way through the streets of the historical centre.
20:00h: It’s time for the Battle of Flowers, in Calle Larios- a confetti and streamer throwing extravaganza!
21:00h The big fancy-dress costume night in the Plaza de la Constitución when the most original costumes will be chosen. Then get ready for an ’80s La Movida’ live concert. (La Movida refers to the popular music that came out of Madrid in the 1980’s. Songs which are now great sing-a-long classics at every fiesta).
February 11th 2024- the last Sunday of Carnaval
12:00h Guess what? Another parade! Starting in the Plaza de la Constitución. As well, as the parade there will singing competitions and free *boquerones for everyone!
*The Boquerón is one of the symbols of Málaga. Boqueron means anchovy. Anchovies, one of the most popular dishes in Malaga, are served fried or marinated crude in olive oil, garlic and lemon. In fact, the Malagueños eat so many anchovies that their nickname is, yes- you’ve guessed it- Boquerones. So if you are an adopted Malagueño, you can call yourself a Boqueron, too!
17:30h- 20:00h Sadly, all good things come to an end- including Carnaval Malaga. And in Malaga we have a very unusual way of bringing the festivities to a close. We burn a giant boquerón!
The giant boquerón en route to its fiery end!
A parade full of colourful floats, carnaval gods and goddesses- and even official mourners, accompany the giant boquerón from Calle Lario, then parade through the port to make their way to the beach of the Malagueta.
The unique tradition of The Burning of the Boquerón takes place on the Malagueta Beach. This is the official end of Carnaval, where all our sins are burned away and then we can be good and chaste for the next 40 days of Lent!
Sadly for the boquerón, he always meets a fiery end.
And so, another fab fun week of Carnaval comes to a close- Malagueño style!
If you miss the Carnaval Malaga, check out the official video to get a taste of the festivities. And see you at Carnaval 2025!
The official video of Carnival Malaga 2024
So as you can see, Malaga is a fun destination to visit in February. But what about the Malaga weather in February?
The weather is positively Spring-like with temperatures sometimes reaching up to 20 degrees celcius and average temperatures staying around 16 degrees. We enjoy approximately 10 hours of sunshine per day. In fact, sun rise is around 8 a.m. and sunset around 7 p.m.(It is probably a good idea to bring a light raincoat and warmer clothes for the evenings. The average rainfall for the month of February is 138mm). In short, it probably won’t rain on our Carnaval parades!