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Carnival Encyclopedia: Words to Know this Carnival Season

Carnival is the funniest season of the year! Select a role and make your costume. But do you know the basic words in Spanish like “pregón” or “chirigota” to survive to the carnival?

Carnival Encyclopedia: Words to Know this Carnival Season

As the song says: ¡La vida es un carnaval! Yes, we love the Carnival and in Madrid, it’s a party! But, it’s also a celebration that uses a lot of words and vocabulary that you probably have never heard of. Here’s a Carnival encyclopedia, because who doesn’t like to learn! Even though for the other 355 days of the year you’ll never use these words, for the next 10 days, you’ll be a hit!


This is the official announcement that Carnival has begun! It’s always announced by an important figure or some famous person. They say a few words and…. with those words begins the craziest week of the year! This year in 2016 Carnival starts on Saturday the 6th of February at 20h. on Calle Bravo Murillo with Calle Pinos Alta.

Chirigota, comparsa y murga

Oh boy, this is a difficult one to explain. These three things are the same, but also they’re slightly different. Let’s see. A chirigota is typical in Cádiz and is comprised of 7 to 12 men or women who sing a song, also called chirigota, which are usually parodies of songs that already exist. They get dressed up in costumes and sing on the stage. This is a satirical song that makes social commentary on a current news topic, almost always involving politicians.  The lyrics are super fun, and they also use whistles in their performances!

The comparsa works the exact same way, but they move throughout the streets with instruments and their characters are usually a bit more serious. The murgas are the same as the chirigotas but in the Canary Islands they call the group and the song murgas.


This is the typical Carnival parade. It passes through the most central streets in Madrid with people dressed up in a variety of costumes. This year it’s called Pasacalles de Bufones, which is like a joker. Do you remember that typical medieval films when the kings would call their jester to make them laugh? That’s what it is! The parade this year will be held on the 6th of February at 17h. It will start at C/ Juan Pantoja with C/ Bravo Murillo until C/ Bravo Murillo with C/ Pinos Alta.

El entierro de la sardina

A curious tradition that began in Century XVIII. The burial of the sardine, yes, we’re literally talking about burying this fish, symbolizes that the costumes go back into the closet and everything goes back to normal. With that begins the Easter season before Holy Week. Don’t miss the burial of the sardine hosted by the Alegre Cofradía on Wednesday the 10th of February at 18h in Príncipe Pío. They will start at Puente de la Reina Victoria, and continue on to San Antonio de la Florida, Plaza San Pol de Mar, comandante Forte, Santa comba, Doctor Casal until the nº 9 (Iglesia de San Pio X) túnel bajo Calle 30, Puerta de las Moreras until the fuente de los Pajaritos.


There you have it! You’re now completely ready to enjoy Carnival just like madrileños!


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