Carnival happens in the Port of Soller from Friday 2nd March onwards. Take a trip to the marina end of the Port in the morning and the children from the only school in the Port will parade down to the sea in their fine costumes. Masked princesses, skeletons, pirates, fairies and goblins will stroll among the holiday makers and locals.
Accompanied by chants and singing they will let you know that Carnival is here in Mallorca. This is the gentle end of carnival as the celebrations on Saturday 5th March take us to an altogether different dimension.
The people of the Soller valley enjoy being part of a group or fraternity. The neighbourhoods divide up on historical or religious lines to form a cohesive group. This can be seen in so many aspects of Majorcan village life and is particularly evident at Easter in the colours of the hooded gowns that the penitents wear indicating which group or ‘barrio' they belong to. The same can be seen at the main carnival parade which takes place on Saturday 5th March from 3 pm onwards. Local schools are easy to spot as they are the floats with all the children hanging off them. The schools are all vying with each other to produce the most innovative float and win the prize! There are financial rewards for the top three floats and the rivalry is intense.
The other groups provide a fascinating insight into a Mallorcan culture I do not truly understand. The costumes and themes are extraordinary and represent hours of painstaking work. Not for these people the easy option of going to a costume hire shop. There is a cottage industry of local sewing machines around here making costumes and designing sets to rival film studios. In fact the Port School has its own Hollywood set designer co-ordinating their efforts. Drew Donavan the American actor and set designer is one of the Dads at the local school and his skills are much in demand. Watch out for him if you are there on Saturday afternoon, he will also have a cameo part in directing proceedings. I can't give too much away as I have to declare a little interest here as this is my granddaughter's school and my family are very involved!
Watch out for the groups of men dressed as women complete with wigs and tights. Last year the line dance group followed by the salsa queens strutted their stuff from end to end along the beach creating a party atmosphere which went on long after the children went home. The parade starts about 3 pm and goes on for a couple of hours to be followed by the judging and presentation of prizes. Then the party really begins and the bars and restaurants do a roaring trade and carnival takes over long into the night. It is said that the madness of carnival is paid for by the penance of Lent and so anything goes. Maybe that is the key to understanding the importance of this spectacular show of local effort and fun. Alternatively maybe it's best not to try and understand it but go gently with flow and give yourself up to Carnival in the Port of Soller 2011.
NOTE: Due to the continuing works on the tram line in Port de Soller, the main parade on Saturday 5th March will be held at 4pm in Soller's main square.