The Carnival, the only festivity not linked to Catholic liturgy, is deep rooted in the Sardinian culture. Across the island the festivities start with the bonfires of Saint Anthony on 17th January while the main celebrations take place between Ash Thursday and Ash Tuesday to conclude on Ash Wednesday. Interestingly the main carnival characters vary quite strongly from region to region.
The Carnival often recalls archaic rites, where the year end is represented by a king or queen (in Tempio Pausiania) or by a rag puppet that is tried, condemned to the stake and afterwards mourned with a ridiculous funeral whine (in Bosa, Maimone, Cagliari).
In the center of the island, Carnival often features mute masks of ancient origin such as Mamuthones and Issohadores (Mamoiada), Boes and Merdules (Ottana) and Sos Thuros (Orotelli).
Especially in the region of Oristano, equistrian performances are at the heart of the Carnival (e.g. Sartiglia in Oristano, Sa carrela ’nanti in Santulussurgiu, Sa corsa e sa pudda in Ghilarza).
No matter where you decide to go, the Carnival is usually accompanied by beans with bacon, fritters (kind of donuts) and plenty of local wine. Have fun!