What do Mexican Catrinas, Tigger, Mary Poppins, Buzz Lightyear, Iron Man, Minions, the Statue of Liberty, the Flintstones, emojis, turtles, Harry Potter and bananas have in common?
They’ve all been worn as costumes during the Javea Carnival.
Many visitors to Javea forget that Spain celebrates Carnival. They think it’s only in South America or New Orleans.
But carnival in Javea – known as carnestoltes in Valenciano – is a hugely popular event.
And if you decide to get involved in the Javea Carnival, you could even see yourself walking away with a cash prize.
Also read: Javea Festivals
When is the Carnival festival in Javea?
Carnival is one the few festivals in Javea without a fixed date, as it depends on Easter and Lent. Javea Carnival takes place on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday (usually February or March).
Where is the Carnival festival in Javea?
The Carnival parade can be seen walking throughout the old town with a final destination in the Plaza de la Constitución.
What’s the highlight of the Carnival festival in Javea?
Carnival only takes place during one Saturday evening – first comes the children’s parade around 5pm, then the adults’ parade around 11:30pm.
Carnival in Spain
Rio de Janeiro in Brazil might hold the Guinness World Record for the largest carnival, but Spain is not far behind.
World-famous carnival festivals take place in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Tarragona, Águilas, Cádiz, Badajoz, Bielsa and more.
The Santa Cruz carnival is by far Spain’s largest – it also holds a Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people in an outdoor plaza to attend a concert, when Cuban salsa superstar Celia Cruz performed to an audience of 250,000.
Famous events that take place across Spain include flour battles, funny karaoke concerts and the popular ‘burial of the sardine’.
Javea used to have its own ‘burial of the sardine’ – with participants performing a mock burial of a sardine with its own coffin – as well as flour fights, but these have died out in recent years.
The Javea Carnival – Carnestoltes
The first proper Carnival festival in Javea was celebrated in 1987. It has changed location and style significantly over the years, and today the Javea Carnival could be better known as Javea’s largest fancy dress party.
The ‘passacarrer carnavalero’ typically starts at the Plaza de la Marina Alta (where the Correos post office is) and finishes at the Plaza de la Constitución.
The Carnival parade has two main different parts:
- The children’s carnival parade, for infants and children aged 5-12, starting at 5pm
- The adults’ carnival parade, for everyone else, starting at 11:30pm
Participants in each of these parades can sign themselves up around half an hour before the parade starts to put themselves forward for a prize in three different categories. Prizes are awarded to the best individual fancy dress, the best dressed couple and best dressed group.
Cash prizes are given by the Javea business associations (Associacions de comerciants de Xàbia).
After the final adults’ Carnival parade is over, and prizes have been awarded, there’s a mobile disco set up in the Plaza de la Constitución that makes sure the party isn’t over until the early hours of the morning.