Malaga carnival is one of the fun highlights of the year, although in 2020 carnival fans have a bit of a long wait. Carnival events in Malaga don’t start until 21 February this year.
If you’re looking to let your hair down by joining in the fun or just like the idea of looking on, read our guide to what’s on in Malaga during carnival. We’ve also included tips on where to buy that essential fancy dress for full Malaga carnival enjoyment!
Preparations start early for Malaga carnival. The special carnival lights are up in Calle Larios – they join the Christmas lights – the harlequin is in place under the Marqués de Larios statue and the official carnival poster has been released.
Malaga carnival events
Events start on Friday 21 February and last until the following Sunday (1 March). Most events take place on Plaza de la Constitución where the action takes place on a giant stage.
Saturday 22 February
This is the official start of Malaga carnival events with the grand opening at 9pm plus the selection of the carnival Gods (god and goddess) who will officially represent the carnival during the week.
Sunday 23 February
Children’s fancy dress competition – from 1.30pm on Plaza de la Constitución.
Official carnival parade – starts in Pasillo de Santo Domingo on the west side of the river and the floats accompanied by lots of people in fancy dress make their way through the historic centre to Plaza de la Merced. Parade starts from 5pm.
This video taken of the parade on Calle Larios gives you an idea of what to expect:
Monday 24 to Thursday 27 February
The search to find the best group of carnival music players (the satirical songs and music are known as comparsas and chirigotas) goes on throughout the historic centre. Concerts take place every evening from 8 to 11pm onwards on the Plaza de la Constitución. You may not understand the words to the songs, but there’s always a fun atmosphere with lots of music and dancing.
Children’s carnival – a great things to do for kids in Malaga. Children’s fun and games from 5-8pm on Plaza de la Constitución. Check out other things to do with children in Malaga.
Friday 28 February
Kids’ Carnival Parade – from 6pm taking a circular route from Plaza de la Constitución, along Calle Especería, Calle Nueva, Calle Puerta del Mar, Calle Martínez, up Calle Marqués de Larios back to Plaza de la Constitución and then up Calle Granada to Plaza del Carbón and Plaza del Siglo before going down Calle Molina Larios and back up to Calle Marqués de Larios and Plaza de la Constitución
Drag Queen Contest – expect impossibly high platforms, giant wigs and make-up in spades as Malaga drag queens compete for Queen of Malaga carnival. From 9pm on Plaza de la Constitución.
Saturday 29 February
One of the busiest days on the Malaga carnival calendar with events for all ages:
Parade of the Gods – leaves from Plaza de la Constitución and winds along Calle Granada before returning to Plaza de la Constitución. From 6pm
Battle of the Flowers – a brightly coloured parade throws confetti and streamers into the crowd before the final shower of thousands of petals. From 7.30pm in Calle Larios.
The grand finale of best carnival music players from 8.30pm on Plaza de la Constitución.
Sunday 1 March
Gran boqueroná – literally a huge fried anchovy and a culinary highlight during Malaga carnival. Get your free portion of fried anchovies at Plaza de la Constitución from 1pm. Not sure how to eat them? Check out our guide.
The burial of the anchovy – carnival always comes to a tragic end in Spain and Malaga is no exception. Most of Spain buries a sardine to mark the end of festivities and the start of Lent, but Malaga buries an anchovy. The Entierro del boquerón parade consists of official mourners dressed in widow’s weeds and weeping, and a giant boquerón whose end comes on a huge bonfire on La Malagueta beach. 4-8pm from Plaza de la Constitución throughout Malaga Port, Muelle Uno and to La Malagueta beach.
Best places to buy fancy dress for Malaga carnival
Luis Casquilla (Calle Juan de Padilla 12, off Plaza Uncibay) and Party Land (Paseo de Reding 47, near the bullring) have a great selection of costumes, make-up and accessories for the best Malaga carnival outfits. If you’re planning on making your own, head for one of the many material shops in Malaga. We like Ribes Casals behind Atarazanas Market but if you’re looking for cheap remnants, try El Kilo in Calle de Liborio García, off Calle Nueva.