Every year at the beginning of February or March, cities around Europe celebrate something called “Carnival”. It usually spans the last full week before Lent, and it’s such a big deal that it’s considered not just a holiday, but an entire holiday season. Kids get days off of school, adults get time off of work, and everyone enjoys their last hurrah before they have to start giving something up for Lent. Just like we have Fat Tuesday and paczki, Spaniards in Oviedo have Carnival and churros.
Carnival is celebrated for several days, but there’s always one day in particular with most of the main events. Usually it’s a Saturday, and it’s a day full of bagpipes, parades, and parties. This year’s Carnival was no exception! At 4 pm people started lining the streets of Oviedo to get ready for the 5 o’clock parade, which winds its way through the town before finally stopping at the Cathedral. My friends and I got an amazing spot right at the beginning of the parade and we had an incredible view of all of the costumes and floats.
My favorite part of Carnival in Oviedo was definitely the costumes. Almost everyone dresses up, and most people coordinate their outfit with their friends. It’s not unusual to pass a group of ballerinas, then a group of rock stars, all followed by a group of farm animals. Everyone in the parade even participates in a costume contest that goes on for hours – a huge stage in front of the cathedral is constructed just for this occasion. Trick or Treating in October may not be a big deal here, but dressing up or “drisfrazar” in February definitely is!
After all of the groups have had their chance to shine and the costume-contest votes have been cast, the DJ starts the music and all of Oviedo becomes one big festival. People dance in the plazas, drink in the sidrarías (special sidra houses), and eat in the churrerías (the wonderful restaurants that sell only churros). The party stars at 10 pm and goes until at least 4 am, and it’s a time of fun and merriment for all! At least, that’s what I heard. Unfortunately, I woke up Saturday morning with a terrible cold. I made it until 7:38 pm (38 minutes longer than any of us expected – I was quite proud) before I had to head back to the apartment to eat soup, drink tea, and go to bed.
Was it a bummer that I missed the main event of Carnival, and more importantly, the churros? Perhaps. But the last thing I saw before heading back was a group of adults on stage dressed up as the penguins from Madagascar, dancing and singing to the Spanish version of “I like to move it move it”. And really, I don’t think the evening could have gotten much better than that!
Until next time,
A huge Star Wars group – definitely one of the best dressed!