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Carnival time in Ibiza

February's arrival can mean only one thing, carnival is coming!

Whilst it might not be up there in scale with the famous carnivals of Río and Tenerife, it certainly makes up for it with enthusiasm and originality. Each year the parades get ever more creative, with themes such as Ancient Egyptian Pharoes, The Lion King, Cuban Latin dancers and the masks and costumes of the Venice Carnival.

The celebrations begin in Ibiza Town on ‘Fat Thursday' (12 February) with the ‘mariol.los', where people take to the streets in heavy disguise. As is tradition, you need to root out old clothes from the back of the wardrobe or in your attic and make yourself as unrecognisable as possible.

The Ibiza Town carnival reaches its crescendo on Sunday 15 February with the ‘Rúa de Carnaval', featuring new costumes with children taking an active part. There's also the chance to win the competition for the best parade in six different categories: float, adult group, school group, residents' association, adult costume and children's costume. The procession takes place as usual on the main streets of the town, starting at Avenida Santa Eularia and finishing at Vara de Rey.

Whilst the fine detail of the programme is still a secret and in its final planning stages, we can reveal two of the local dance schools' parade plans to give you a taste of what's to come. Aladdin is the theme for Passion Ibiza, who will be performing the title song amongst others and Paso a Paso is focusing on films of the 1920's and 30's for its theme, inspired by stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo. Both schools will be featuring children of between three and 18 years old.

Conchi Monroy, director of Paso a Paso, which last year won 1st prize for its parade is a big enthusiast for the event: “As well as the excitement in the streets which we all love, taking part in the carnival allows us to showcase the work of the school. Everyone, including teachers, musicians and parents get involved on pulling this together. As well as being fun, the kids get to learn good values of how to work as part of a team,” she says.

This year the school gets a chance to get creative again with the kids learning about iconic cinema, which they didn't know about before. Their parade looks at the transition from black and white to colour. This is best characterised by one of the planned sequences where we see a traditional looking Charlie Chaplin, transforming into more colourful contemporary dancing ‘Chaplins' swinging to a modern beat.

The festival will end in Ibiza Town with the traditional burying of the sardine, after which everyone feasts on sardines and wine before bidding adios to one of the year's most mischievous festivals.

Festivities don't end there on the island since where Ibiza Town leaves off San Antonio and Santa Eularia pick up, beginning their own events from Tuesday 17 February. Both will feature multiple events with music concerts, picturesque parades and colourful costumes for adults and kids alike.

Details on the full carnival programme will be announced soon.

WORDS | Julian Heathcote PHOTOS | Cat Milton

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