Ever been to Carnaval in Rio or Salvador de Bahia?  Brasil and its carnavals are hard to beat! What about Mardi Gras in New Orleans?  The madness of it all! Ever heard of our unique carnaval celebrations in Cantabria ? Probably not,  so just in case…

Had a great time this past weekend at a unique local festival in the Liebana region of Cantabria.  Liebana is a great area surrounded by tall mountains (which were all snow covered) with many small mountain villages dotting the various valleys of the region.

Northern Spain

The Picos de Europa mountains of the Liebana region of Cantabria

The celebration we went to is known as “El Andruido de la Paré de Piasca” (translated  loosely as the Great Noise of the Wall of Piasca).  It is a typical mountain caranval in Northern Spain, which is anything but typical.  Cantabria has serveral of these unique festivals including the most famous one, “La Vijanera” earlier in the year and “Los Zamarrones de Polaciones” coming up this weekend.  These celebrations are quite unique and make for a welcome twist on your typical carnaval festivities.  Usually lots of wild costumes and scenes played out.

The principal characters at Piasca are Zamarrones, white figures with colored hats and streamers that wear animal masks are chase another group donning cow bells that clang as they run (the Great Noise).

Northern Spain

Zamarrones of Piasca chasing the Great Noise

The festival was attended by some other troupes from other regions of Northern Spain including Navarra, Galicia and Leon.  The tiny town and festival tent filled with unique  costumed participants that carried out unusual scenes.   Here are some photos of the other groups.

Northern Spain

Troupe from Navarra with Clanging Cow Bells and Horned Bear Jumping belled Harlequins from Galica

Traditional music including bagpipes, drums, tambourines and accordions was played throughout.  These guys are from my hometown and I´m actually learning to play the bagpipe with them, maybe you´ll see me playing at festivals in the future!

Norther Spain

Traditional music by Peña Gedio

The festival included a wonderful paella lunch under the sunny skies and snow capped peaks.  The paellas literally took some man handling to cook.

Northern Spain

Now that is a paella (or two)!

The festivities then continued down into Potes, the “capital” of Liebana with a parade and more revelry by the festival participants.  It all made for a unique experience and our group had a wonderful time.  Something special about taking part in a small local festival like this in a tiny picturesque mountain town of Cantabria.  Here is a video I put together for my tour co if you are interested in seeing some of the action.

Got any interesting or cool carnaval celebrations that you´ve been to?  Feel free to comment and share! 😉