Capital of Carnival
The Entroido, which is the traditional way that we have in Ourense to live the Carnival, is perhaps the most joyful, colorful and crazy feast of all those that are celebrated in our city (and there are many of them!). These are days and nights of music, costumes, laughter and long meals with friends. A celebration in style whose roots are lost in time and that in Ourense is lived with passion: for a reason we are Galicia’s Capital of Carnival.
One City, Four Carnivals
Within the city there are four different carnivals, each one with its own personality. The most crowded one takes place in the historic centre, especially in the areas of Os Viños and the Main Square, where all the nightlife converges. The starting point is marked on Men’s Thursday (10 days before Carnival Monday) and a week later, on Women’s Thursday. On these days, first men and the following week women make fun of each other and create “mecos” (dolls of the opposite sex) that the “enemies” of the other sex will try to destroy. In the mornings there are battles between boys and girls in the Main Square, and the night scene on Women’s Thursday stands out, in which groups of women (and men necessarily dressed as women) indulge in dancing and spree.
From here the real Entroido begins, five days of non-stop partying in which the streets are full of music and colour thanks to brass bands and parades. More elaborate and elegant costumes share the limelight with other simpler ones, but in all of them you will see good humour and the desire to have a good time.
Perhaps the high points are the nights of Carnival Saturday and Monday (Tuesday is a local holiday), and of course the colorful parade that takes place on Sunday. The celebrations end on Ash Wednesday with the traditional Burial of the Sardine, when the city goes into mourning to bid farewell to one of its most beloved festivities until the next year.
Along with this more urban carnival, some neighborhoods and hamlets of the municipality of Ourense have their own traditions and masks that contribute to give color and originality to the local carnival. In A Ponte, a neighborhood on the north bank of river Miño, the feast is marked by the banquets of the monks of the irreverent Friar Canedo. Seixalbo and As Eiroás also have their own characters: in the picturesque hamlet of Seixalbo, the dolls Paquita and Nicanor go out in procession before they are burned; and the mask of Pita parades in Eiroás, adorned with colored ribbons. In these areas, the celebrations begin on “Pot Sunday”, when the traditional game of clay pots is celebrated.
Carnivals of the Province
The city is the perfect departure point to discover the different carnivals of the province. Especially significant are those of Laza, Verín, Xinzo de Limia, Maceda, Viana do Bolo and Manzaneda, all of them declared Feasts of Tourist Interest and in which their colourful and unique masks stand out: cigarrons from Verín, peliqueiros from Laza, pantallas from Xinzo… There are several transport companies and travel agencies that offer transfer services from the city to these destinations, even until late at night, so you can forget about the car during these parties.
The province of Ourense hosts numerous ancestral carnivals, with emblematic costumes such as the pantallas of Xinzo, the peliqueiros of Laza or the cigarrons of Verín.
Gastronomy plays a leading role in the Ourense Entroido. It is time to enjoy a good Galician stew, made up of vegetables, chickpeas, potatoes, even chestnuts and of course meat, especially pork, including traditional sausages such as androllas and botelo. The sweet touch is provided by pancakes, bicas and especially the orellas, the most carnival-like dessert, made with eggs, flour and sugar. All washed down with wines from the local denominations of origin such as Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra, Monterrei or Valdeorras, and local liqueurs, including coffee and herb liqueurs.