Carnival is one of the most eagerly awaited festivals of the year, especially for children who can show off their costumes and have fun with their friends and family. If you are looking for a plan to spend a fun and enjoyable day with your family, we suggest you visit Bilbao and its surroundings, where you can enjoy a Carnival full of colour, music, tradition and humour.
Bilbao Carnival: parades and children’s activities
The Bilbao Carnival is one of the most original and emblematic in the Basque Country, as it combines traditional elements with other more modern and creative ones. The main characters of this festival are Farolín and Zarambolas, two characters who represent the duality of the Bilbao personality, and who are subjected to a public trial full of satire and fun. Alongside them is the Sardine, which is burnt on the last day of Carnival to usher in Lent.
The Bilbao Carnival is held from 8 to 13 February, and offers a varied and attractive programme for all audiences. Among the most outstanding children’s activities are the following:
Friday, 9 February 2024
- Carnival parade of the Bilbao schools. It starts at 10.30 am and runs along Albia, Gran Vía, Arenal and Plaza Nueva.
- Trial of Farolín and Zarambolas. From 7.30 p.m. in Plaza Nueva. With the participation of the comparsas and their Carnival songs.
Saturday, 10 February 2024
- Children’s workshops in Plaza Nueva (11:00 h), Gargantua in the Juzgados area (12.00 h) and Giants and big-heads in Plaza Arriaga and Casco Viejo (12.00 h).
- Carnival Parade. It starts at 17:00 h, and goes through the main streets of the city with floats, costumes, music and entertainment.
Monday, 12 February 2024 (children’s day)
- Family concert in Plaza Nueva (12.00 h)
- Children’s workshops in Plaza Nueva (16.30 h)
Tuesday, 13 February 2024
- Burial of the Sardine. This takes place at 20:00 h, and consists of a funeral procession that accompanies the Sardine to the Plaza Arriaga, where it is cremated amidst weeping and wailing.
In addition, during the days of Carnival, you can enjoy other activities such as children’s workshops, concerts, giants and big-heads, murgas, costume contests and much more.
Carnivals in other municipalities of Greater Bilbao: Barakaldo, Portugalete and Sestao
If you want to broaden your carnival experience, we recommend that you also visit other municipalities in the Greater Bilbao area, where Carnivals with a long tradition and festive atmosphere are held. Some of them are:
- Barakaldo: the town celebrates Carnival from 9 to 18 February, with a programme that includes parades, competitions, shows and various children’s activities.
- Portugalete: the town celebrates Carnival from 8 to 14 February, with a programme that stands out for its fancy dress competition, which takes place on Saturday 10 February and offers more than 10,000 euros in prizes. You can also enjoy parades, performances, workshops and the burial of the Sardine.
- Sestao: this municipality celebrates its fiestas a week later than the rest, from 16 to 18 February, with a programme that includes parades, competitions, open-air dances, chocolatadas and the burial of the Sardine.
Tips for enjoying Carnival in Bilbao and its surroundings
So that you can make the most of Carnival in Bilbao and the surrounding area, here are some practical tips:
- Choose an original and comfortable costume that suits the weather and the activities you are going to do. You can be inspired by the themes proposed by each municipality, or let your imagination run wild and create your own costume.
- Plan your carnival route in advance, taking into account the timetables, routes and means of transport available. You can check the Metro Bilbao timetables and routes here.