Carnival in Málaga is an eminently popular festival preceding Lent; its colourful, multicultural and spontaneous character make it unique. Celebrations are held both in the Historic Quarter and the rest of the city's districts, which, during Málaga's warm winter, host hundreds of recreational activities. Carnival has always had deep roots in Málaga, but it disappeared in 1935 because of the difficult socio-political circumstances of the time. After the dictatorship, the festival was held once more with renewed vigour.
The fiesta, led by the Fundación Ciudadana del Carnaval (Citizens' Carnival Foundation), starts in Málaga with meetings of groups of singers, bands of street musicians, parades, quartets and choirs in the Teatro Cervantes in a contest that attracts contestants from all over the province as well as other places in Andalusia. The official group contest, a prelude to the street festival, is characterised by good humour, laughter, effervescence, and satire; it is the annual chronicle of local, provincial, regional and national events told by good singing voices and guitars, with whistles and drums as a backdrop.
Málaga Carnival is inaugurated by a speech at the nerve centre of the city, the Plaza de la Constitution. In recent years, many renowned voices have opened the festivities: Rosa María Mateo with a script by Fernando Quiñones, Antonio Banderas, María Teresa Campos with a magnificent piece by Rafael Pérez Estrada, Remedios Cervantes, Isabel Gemio, Paloma San Basilio, José Infante, Julián Sesmero, Lamari de Chambao, Nuria Fergó, Pastora Soler, Antonio de la Torre and many more.
Cuisine also plays an important role in the lead-up. Collard greens, casseroles, rice dishes, stews... Each neighbourhood sets up its own tasting event, in which there is no shortage of groups singing folk songs.
The Carnival itself takes place from Sunday to Sunday in the week before Lent. After the opening address and the election of the God and Goddess of the Carnival, which is on Saturday night, the Great Parade takes place on Sunday. During the week, performances by singers and entertainers, as well as events such as the Battle of the Flowers, are responsible for adorning the city centre in confetti.
Finally, on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the Burial of the Anchovy takes place: a parade through the central streets to the beaches of La Malagueta, where this short-lived work - usually portraying allusions to current events - is burned.