Maritime Magic of Carnaval de Santoña: A Festive Celebration of Seafood, Music, and Tradition

Santoña Carnival

(Carnaval de Santoña)

Maritime themed festival including a trial overseen by a court of fish. No joke!

Are you ready to dive into the depths of one of Spain’s most unique and entertaining festivals? It’s time to put on your sailor’s hat and get ready for the Carnaval de Santoña!

Located in the beautiful region of Cantabria, the Carnaval de Santoña is a celebration steeped in history and maritime traditions. The festival takes place every year in February or March and is a week-long celebration of music, dance, and, of course, the sea.

The origins of the Carnaval de Santoña can be traced back to the 18th century when the town was a bustling port and center of maritime trade. The festival served as a way for sailors to let loose and have fun before embarking on long voyages. Today, the festival is a beloved tradition that attracts visitors from all over Spain and beyond.

One of the highlights of the Carnaval de Santoña is the “Juicio en el Fondo del Mar” (Judgment at the Bottom of the Sea), a unique event where a “judge” (usually a local celebrity or politician) presides over a mock trial of a fictional character or group. The trial takes place on a boat that sails out into the bay, where the “defendant” is “sentenced” to be thrown overboard. It’s all in good fun, of course, and a great way to pay homage to the town’s maritime history.

But the festivities don’t end there! The Carnaval de Santoña also features parades, concerts, and dance performances, all with a nautical theme. You’ll see people dressed up in elaborate sailor costumes, mermaids, and sea creatures, all dancing and singing to the beat of the music.

And let’s not forget about the food! Santoña is famous for its seafood, and during the Carnaval, you’ll have the opportunity to sample some of the freshest and most delicious seafood dishes you’ve ever tasted. From grilled sardines to squid in ink, there’s something for every seafood lover.

So, grab your captain’s hat and head to Santoña for a truly unforgettable experience. The Carnaval de Santoña is a celebration of the sea, history, and culture, and it’s one festival you won’t want to miss!

2 February to 3 March, 2024

The origin of the Santoña Carnival is documented on two different dates. The first, in 1883 according to some municipal ordinances. The second was in 1892 where it appears as a carnival in the Diario Eco de Santoña.

The Santoña Carnival is famous for its traditional musical parades as well as its maritime theme.

There is an annual performance “Judgement at the Bottom of the Sea” where a sea bream (type of ‘dorada’) is tried for the kidnapping of a mermaid. The court is made up of different species of fish and is presided over by Neptune. Although the sea bream is acquitted by Neptune, the trial ends with The Burial of the Bream.

Schedule for 2024 – Judgment in the Bottom of Sea and Burial of the Bream. Arrest of the prisoner “Sea Bream” is made at 1:00 pm; at 8:00 pm the Judgement at the Bottom of the Sea. Next, the Burial of the Bream takes place.

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