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Nerja Carnival 2023

The Carnival is a well-established, yet surprising tradition in Nerja which gathers more interest and momentum year on year as participants and visitors work on costumes and floats with ever more imagination. The Carnival takes place over a four day period (three days and an evening at least) in the week just before the start of Lent and as with many of the towns events finds its religious basis overspilling with the natural Spanish love of a good fiesta.

The general idea of this fiesta is that of a big party prior to fasting until Easter. Although the weather for this February fiesta may not always be the stereotypical Andalusian sunshine this is definitely no reason to write off the Carnival with this very much being one of the best occasions to take some snaps of the town and the locals. Put quite simply it is incredible the lengths that participants go to in order to win the contests for best outfit or best float.

The Carnival includes two processions and a number of contests with the four days building up to the final event of the ‘Entierro del Bogueron’ or Burial of the Anchovy (although it’s often referred to as the burial of the Sardine). Frankly this is a somewhat bizarre tradition but one that seems to be really rather old and is seen throughout Spain. In Nerja a large decorated (fake) Anchovy is paraded through the streets with all manner of pageantry until it reaches one of the towns central beaches, La Calahonda, where it’s blown up as part of a fireworks display!

The Nerja Carnival 2023 will begin on Thursday 23rd February and continue until Sunday the 26th February. Take a look below at the events timetable

Events Timetable 2023

Day 1 - Thursday 23rd February

The opening events will take place in the cultural center. This will include the opening speech and shows (normally comedy) that often include local groups or performers from the town. Entrance is free however numbers are limited. If you’re interested in going ask in ticket office for more information and entrance ticket availability. Please be aware though that these performances are in Spanish.

Day 2 – Friday 24th February

The second day brings the competitions for best fancy dress in the various categories for both adults and children. This is held in Plaza de España a stone’s throw from the Balcon de Europa and usually begin at 6pm continuing into the evening. This is more than just a friendly competition though as there are cash prizes at stake!

Day 3 – Saturday 25th February

The Third day brings the principal parade of the Carnival where you can see all the winning costumes from the competition the evening before as well as floats and music. This is a real attraction with lots of participants all colorfully dressed where anybody can take part. The parade takes the following route and begins at around 5pm.

Calle Jaen, Diputación, Plaza Cavana, Granada, Plaza de la Ermita, Calle San Miguel, Plaza de Cantarero, Calle Pintada, Puerta del Mar and then returning to Plaza de España.

Following the parade there will be a continuation of the carnival with a big dance / party in Plaza de España were the winners of this year’s costume categories will be announced.

Day 4 – Sunday 26th February

The final day’s events will begin at 11:30am in Plaza de España with a competition for best pet outfit for the Carnival followed by a children’s competition of best funeral mourner (although it translates as best little widow/widower) for the coming parade.

From 4pm, again at Plaza de España, things will kick off with the municipal band beginning proceedings with music for the crowds waiting for the beginning of the procession for the ‘Entierro Del Bogueron’ which is also sometimes known as ‘Entierro del Chanquete’. This is a slow march (although it can sometimes turn into more of a dance with the giant Anchovy at the head) through the streets to Calahonda beach in a funeral style with participants dressed in black, wailing and displaying their sadness at the death of the fish with some of the men in drag.

This procession has the following route through the streets Calle Carmen, Plaza Cavana, Granada, Plaza de la Ermita, La Cruz, Pintada, Puerta del Mar and then down to Calahonda beach. It’s well worth seeing as I doubt you’ll ever forget it! The fish then meets its demise at approximately 7pm on Calahonda beach with a fanfare of fireworks as the gathered crowds watch from the Balcon de Europa.

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