If you happen to be visiting Barcelona this February, then you absolutely must hit one of the biggest and most anticipated festivals in Europe: Sitges Carnival! Just 45 minutes south of the city lays the quaint seaside town of Sitges, and from February 25th – March 5th this usually quiet neighborhood comes to life for the annual Carnival, or ‘Carnaval’, as it is known here.
This fantastic party is famous for its colorful parades, costumes, masks, folk dances, timeless traditions, and of course, delectable gastronomy! Although the Sitges Carnival may not be as big as the popular celebrations of the same name in Brazil, this particular Spanish fiesta attracts over 300,000 people each year. Read on to find out what you can expect to see at the Carnaval in Sitges 2014:
Sunday, March 2nd 2014
- ‘The Parade of Debauchery’ at 7:30 pm, kicking off at Cap de Vila. Expect bright costumes and music.
- For families with youngsters, catch the Children’s Parade at 3pm.
Also, in Vilanova (a little further outside Sitges) there will be a candy war on March 2nd! Here, sweet treats fill the streets as the different teams of ‘Comparses’ battle it out with candy to see who comes out top in the friendly neighborhood ‘Guerra de Caramelos’.
For more info on how to get to Vilanova from Barcelona, check out the Renfe website.
- ‘The Parade of Extermination’ at 7:30pm, starting point at Cap de la Vila. More cool costumes and dancing on colorful floats!
Wednesday, March 5th 2014
- ‘The Burial of the King’ kicks off at 7pm at Plaça Ajuntament, while the festival officially wraps up with the ‘Burial of the Sardine’ taking place at 8:30pm on Passeig de la Ribera. The tradition goes that the ‘King of Carnestoltes’ makes an appearance on the first Thursday of the celebrations, absorbs everyone’s sins throughout the weekend, and ‘dies’ during the rituals on the 5th, in which everyone exchanges their festive garb for black mourning attire, marking the end of the festival and the beginning of Lent.
The entire festival is meant to commemorate the last week leading up to Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season. Festivities begin on ‘Jueves Lardero’, also known as Fatty Thursday, in which all Spanish and Catalan people enjoy local dishes including Spanish tortilla and Catalan butifarra (a type of sausage). In Sitges, this day of gluttony is topped off
with the celebration of the arrival of the King. To mark the end of the festivities, the ‘Burial of the Sardine’ takes place, in which a sardine is buried at the beach to symbolize the abstinence from fish and sweets for the following 40 days leading up to Easter.
Sitges is known as the gay capital of Europe and while some choose it as a sunny destination for a summer holiday or a quiet day trip away from bustling Barcelona, many people come to take part in the festivities hosted by the town’s large gay community. When it comes to the Carnival celebrations, the costumes, color, music and parades are stepped up a notch, making this fiesta one the most vivid and wildest parties of the year.
Carnival’s crazy Spanish celebrations are not exclusive to Sitges! While the Carnaval celebrations in Barcelona are not as vibrant as in Sitges, there are a few parades going on at the beginning of February. If you’re looking to experience Carnival in a quieter manner, then check out the apartments in Barcelona located near the center of the city so you’ll be closer to all of the festivities.