February in the Spanish speaking world is the month people let their hair down and put on a spectacular Carnaval and Malaga, the principal city of the Costa del Sol, is no exception.
Expect an explosion of colour and crazy characters around the old quarter and central shopping streets as the Spanish do what they do better than most…party! Organised activities for children, competitions, music, art, theatre and laughter are all part of the festive mix. There’s also an important song contest, with a long tradition, with heats and a grand final.
Carnival was repressed during the time of Franco and the Malagueños, as the resident population are called, have been making up for it is since with a foundation dedicated to ensuring it’s a roaring success.
The revelries date back to the early 16th century with a burlesque procession from the Bishop’s Palace to the Cathedral interior led by a choir boy dressed in bishop’s robes. Over the centuries it continued as a tradition, growing and changing shape along the way and bound up with the city’s religious and political history.
After a more than 40 year gap during the 20th century, carnival activities were revived after the end of the dictatorship and meetings took place during 1978/79 with elders encouraged to recall the songs, tunes and parades of times gone by. In 1980 it was back on the city’s calendar.
Preparations take place throughout the preceding year so that costumes, performances and programme create the right mood – and of course Malaga is not alone as carnival happens in cities across the province, to the delight of visitors who get caught up in the moment wherever it is taking place.