The last day of the carnival in Tarragona is a very dark affair: there is a wake, tears, a damning speech and a final cremation.
It starts mid morning when a party of weeping men and women, accompanied by two representatives of the guardia civil, a funeral band and a very tipsy bishop, announce the death of King Carnestoltes. The latter, in all its grotesque glory, lies in the mortuary set up at the Metropol theatre.
It’s a dark satire of all there is wrong with inherited power: king Carnestoltes with its bulging eyes, protruding tongue and crooked teeth, wakes up one more time in front of his mourners. Having satisfied one last sexual urge he returns to his coffin to be pronounced dead.
His funeral funeral, together with his consort, symbolises the final moment of the carnival. In Plaça de la Font, in front a large crowd of revellers, the beast of fire and the devils gather to listen to a proclamation read from the devil in chief from the main balcony of the Town Council.
The proclamation, written in verses, is damning indictment about everything which is wrong with Tarragona: public money wasted in never ending projects, corruption, mismanagement, lack of vision, the wasteful Mediterranean games.
When the time to bury Carnestoltes and his ugly wife has come the funeral pyre is set alight and the first correfoc (fire run) of the new year starts, banishing winter in a spectacular fashion.
With wild explosions and drums beaten like thunder Carnival turns to ashes.