The Aguilas Carnival is the most recognized carnival in the Murcia province, as well as one of the most famous attractions in Spain. It has been declared as Festival of International Tourist Interest. Only three carnivals have this distinction in all of Spain (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Aguilas and Cadiz).
In the Town Hall of Aguilas, one can find ordinances dating from 1886 that regulated the carnival of that time, and in particular, the use of costumes and masks. The authorities had the right to ask mask users at any time for their identification and the obligation to not carry weapons, for the protection and enjoyment of those who attended these parties.
Historical sources indicate that the Carnival in Aguilas was celebrated in the 18th century, under the reign of Carlos III. Oral testimonies place it in the first decades of the 19th century. Images from these decades reaffirm this assertion.
During the Franco dictatorship, carnivals were banned; however, it is known that the inhabitants of Aguilas in those years managed to dress up, simulating situations such as a baptism, wedding, or wake.
The Carnival in Aguilas has a plot that has been developed over time, developing its own characters and accentuating some features or elements typical of each one. Characters that are represented throughout the week of the Carnival festival are selected well in advance. The participants must wear striking colors and know the precise traits of their characters.
There are five main characters in the Aguilas Carnival.
is the acclaimed and applauded Queen of the Carnival. She personifies joy and enthusiasm. Wherever she reaches, including streets, houses, and squares, her main function is to motivate, enthuse, and contribute to the presence of magic and brilliance expected during those days of the Carnival. She is the inspiration.
is the second most important character in the Carnival of Aguilas. It is the opposite of the Musa—representing seriousness and rejecting revelry and the consumption of drinks and food during the celebration of the Carnival. This character represents control, demands abstinence, and calls for modesty, asking for punishment for those who do not comply.
Days before the glamorous parades, in a public verbal confrontation, Doña Cuaresma is defeated by another character, Don Carnal
. This defeat allows the Carnival festival to be celebrated until the so-called Piñata day, when there is a new verbal confrontation with Don Carnal, in which Doña Cuaresma will win.
As indicated, there is another important character with a very significant name: Don Carnal, the one who defeats Doña Cuaresma. However, his triumph allows the revelers to enjoy the Carnival for only one week. Ultimately, he will be defeated on La Colonia Beach.
There, a doll made of rags and branches that symbolizes Don Carnal's body will be placed on a bonfire and burned while hundreds of fireworks are launched, sealing the victory of Doña Cuaresma.
However, everyone knows that this victory is also temporary, as Don Carnal will reappear the following year, bringing joy, costumes, and a week of fun to everyone who attends the Carnival of Aguilas.
Another important character is Mussona
, who represents the experienced Carnivals and who lived in Aguilas in the past, when, due to scarce resources, costumes were prepared to enjoy a few days. The Mussona is a strange character who represents the duality of the human being, as his clothing is half-human and half-animal.
The fifth character is contrary to La Mussona: the musician tamer
. This character represents humanity and the civilized state through music.
Without a doubt, at the Carnival in Aguilas, there is a wealth of symbols that, in addition to recreating and teaching lessons about coexistence, reflects the idiosyncrasy of the population of Aguilas and its history.