I can hardly believe Carnival is on us again! For you see it creeps up unawares. It has no set date. Some years it’s early and some years it’s late. In 2016 it started on the 7th February and this year it starts today on the 23rd. It depends on the date of the beginning of Lent, a movable fast of forty days that depends on the moveable feast of Easter. But Easter is always on the Sunday after the first full moon of Spring. Simple really!
This lack of certainty is typical of Carnival, as the first thing to realise is that, in Andorra, there are no fixed rules about Carnival or Carnestoltes. Even the Catalan word Carnestoltes swirls with confusion. It can refer to Carnival itself or to King Carnestoltes who is a figure similar to Tudor England’s Lord of Misrule. He in turn can be a stuffed effigy, sometimes resembling a leading political figure, and strung up high above the main town square to oversee the revelries. But equally he can be an actor or singer dressed up in crazy clothes and in charge of leading days of carousing.
As well as traditional Parades and fancy dress balls, each year Andorra’s comuns (local councils) try to dream up something new. For example Encamp specialises in holding events at odd times: 4.05pm Trial of Smugglers followed by a botifarrada (sausage) BBQ or 3.12am (note the time!) Sweetmeats in the village hall. Carnestoltes (the actor) might open the festivities with a satirical speech singling out the key political events of the year, poking fun at government ministers or other important personages, never actually spelling out names but giving broad enough hints to keep the crowd chuckling. During the remaining days until Ash Wednesday he presides over masked balls, parades and all kinds of entertainments.
Finally, in many parishes, on Shrove Tuesday, he, or the effigy, stands trial for bad behaviour and is sentenced to death. After reading his last will and testament – always permeated with the message to enjoy life to the full – the effigy is taken down and burned in the main square. (Happily the actor is more often ‘buried’). The Carnival King has become scapegoat for all the mayhem of Carnival. There follows the seven weeks of austerity and abstinence which is Lent.
(Part of this has been extracted from Andorra Revealed, available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon. There you will find information about all Andorra’s major feast day celebrations.)
PICK OF THE WEEK
CARNIVAL From Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th February
(Almost all events are free)
ANDORRA LA VELLA & ESCALDES-ENGORDANY parishes.
• FRIDAY, 24th February at 19h at Av. Carlemany, 64, HANGING OF CARNESTOLTES by the theatre group Making Off.
• SATURDAY, 25th February at 18h throughout the two parishes. Organized jointly by the comuns of Andorra la Vella and Escaldes-Engordany. Starting at the Plaça Guillemó, Andorra la Vella, THE GRAND CARNIVAL PARADE AND COMPETITION will then go via c. Dr. Nequi – av. Príncep Benlloch – av. Meritxell – av. Carlemany – av. de les Escoles – c. Prat Gran – c. del Parnal – c. Nacions Unides – c. dels Veedors – arriving at the Sala Prat del Roure for HAMBURGERS for all (3€) and a CHOREOGRAPHIC COMPETITION.
• SUNDAY 26th at 13.30 in the c. Veedors, Escaldes-Engordany. Calçotada popular (a delicious leek BBQ. 6€)
• FRIDAY 24th at 8.30h: traditional KILLING OF THE PIG at the Edifici Socioesportiu Perecaus
• SATURDAY 25th at 16h: HANGING OF CARNESTOLTES, PARADE OF GIANTS AND HARLEQUINS in the Plaça Montaup. And at 23h: FANCY DRESS BALL AND COMPETITION at the Edifici Perecaus with music by the Doble Cara.
• SUNDAY 26th at 17h: CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL at the Edifici Perecaus. A Great Day with coca (traditional sweet cake) and hot chocolate for all.
• SATURDAY, 25th ALL DAY starting at 11.58h: (sic) The traditional HANGING OF CARNESTOLTES in the Plaça del Consell followed at 12.56: by FOLK DANCING by the Esbart Sant Romà. 14.57: PARADE OF FLOATS AND BATUKADA with Bloco Alagbe through the town starting at the Prada de Moles. (Inscription at the same place at 14.30) 17.29: CHILDREN’S SHOW with Que Viure in the Congress Hall at Encamp Sports Complex. Chocolate is only for the children. Parents receive a xurre at the door. Followed at 22.22: a NIGHT DANCE with cover band Pasarela. At 1.36: A COVER BAND takes over in the Sala de Festes and at 2h a MOBILE DISCO starts up in the Encamp Sports Centre.
SUNDAY 26th at 6.24h: WAKE UP CALL through the streets of Encamp. 8.06: KILLING OF A PIG AND A HALF (sic) in the Plaça del Arínsols. 16.01: TRIAL OF THE SMUGGLERS followed by a BOTIFARRADA SAUSAGE BARBEQUE for everybody. 17.38: CHILDREN’S SPECTACULAR AND FANCY DRESS COMPETITION in the Sala de Congressos of the Sports Complex. 19.12: AFTERNOON DANCE for seniors with Tercet Atlàntics and coca and chocolate (children also welcome) in the Sala de Festes in the Sports Complex. Followed at 23.02: M80 FESTIVAL with Version Imposible followed at 00.28: FANCY DRESS COMPETITION (Inscriptions at reception 30 mins. before.)
LA MASSANA PARISH
• THURSDAY 23rd from 16h: CARNIVAL PARTY AND SNACKS for youths from 12 years at the Punt 400. Tel. (+376) 836 505. From 17h – 18.30: MAKE YOUR OWN MASK at La Capsa for 5 – 16 year-olds. Tel. (+376) 324 558.
• SUNDAY, 26th at 17h: CHILDREN’S FANCY DRESS COMPETITION (sign in between 16h and 17h) in La Closeta, followed by ENTERTAINMENT.
SANT JULIÀ DE LÒRIA:
• THURSDAY 23rd to SUNDAY, 26th February all day in participating bars, restaurants and cafès. The 9th edition of the RUTA DE LA TAPA. Specialties of the house on sale in each venue (3€ each, includes drink).
• SATURDAY 25th 17h: SPORTS AFTERNOON AND TREASURE HUNT FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE in the Plaça de la Germandat followed at 18h: Rehearsal for the DANCE OF THE DEVILS, WITCHES AND PUPPETS. 19h: Opening speech and HANGING OF CARNESTOLTES in the Plaça Major.
• SUNDAY 26th at 19h: GRAND PARADE with the groups of ninotaires, demons, witches and the Chief Witch. During the parade the participating Floats and masquerades will be judged for the competition. 20.30: BARBEQUED BOTIFARRA SAUSAGES for all in the Plaça de la Germandat. 21h: BATUCADA by Toca-is’ls in Plaça de la Germadat. 21.30 FANCY DRESS BALL with the Doble Cara in the lobby of the Centre Cultural. At the end of the ball the prizes for the Carnival floats and masquerades will be handed out. 23h CARNIVAL DANCE performed by the Esbart Laurèdia folk dance group.
• EL PIANO ROMÀNTIC with Alexandre Tharaud. FRIDAY, 24th February at 20h: at the Centre de Congressos, Andorra la Vella, (20€ – 30€ Tickets on sale from www.morabanc.ad/entrades, Andorra la Vella tourist office.) Temporada de Música i Dansa: Beethoven, Schubert and Rachmaninov.
• LYDIA GREGORY. SATURDAY, 25th February at 23h at the cafè teatre La Fada Ignorant, Andorra la Vella (Tickets 6€, or Entrance + CD 8€) Blues, Jazz and the Latin rhythms of Lydia Gregory. Don’t miss this exclusive first performance by Lydia in Andorra. Great voice!
• THE GREAT WALL: MONDAY 20th and WEDNESDAY, 22nd February at 17.40 and 19.30 and THURSDAY, 23rd February at 17.45 at the Cinemes Illa Carlemany, Escaldes-Engordany. Directed by one of the most breathtaking visual stylists of our time, Zhang Yimou. Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe. The Story: When a mercenary warrior is imprisoned within the Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of the world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts besiege the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army of elite warriors to confront the unimaginable and seemingly unstoppable force.
• THE FOURTH PHASE (Mountain and Travel film series of La Massana-Ordino, 2017) THURSDAY, 23rd February at 21h at the National Auditorium, Ordino. THE FOURTH PHASE, is an epic documentary film starring legendary snowboarder TRAVIS RICE. While exploring the hidden corners of the mountains of his native Wyoming, Rice prepares a journey of 25,000 kilometers chasing hydrological cycles of the North Pacific, where snow and ice create a dreamlike landscape with towering peaks. During the tour, Rice joins some of the most creative riders. From the Japanese Alps to the volcanoes of Russia, through a spectacular and remote area of Alaska, the team must overcome all obstacles submerging themselves in the cycle of nature. And Rice knows that it depends on their own decisions. The Fourth Phase marks a new way in which to fuse action, story and narrative film using all the resources available.
If you want to learn more in depth about Andorra try reading “Andorra Revealed”.