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 4th – 10th February 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 2016:
Dates not to be Missed!
Thursday 4th February 2016
- This marks the arrival of the carnival. Expect a huge parade with the arrival of the carnival King and Queen from 5pm.
- From La Fragata they will head towards the new town along Psg de la Ribera, C, Bonaire, C.Parellades and Cap de la Vila.
Saturday 6th February 2016
- The annual Sitges bed race takes place. Beds on wheels are pushed by teams to see who is the fastest! Starting at 12:00pm at Casino Prado Suburenc de Sitges.
Sunday 7th February 2016
- ‘The Parade of Debauchery’ at 8:00 pm, kicking off at Passeig de la Ribera. Expect bright costumes and music.
- For families with youngsters, catch the Children’s Parade at 12pm.
Tuesday 9th February 2016
- ‘The Parade of Extermination’ at 8:00pm, starting point at Passeig de la Ribera. More cool costumes and dancing on colorful floats!
- There will also be another Children’s Parade (Rua Infantil) at 3:00pm.
Wednesday, 10th February 2016
‘The Burial of the King’ kicks off at 7:30pm 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 10th, 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 the Carnival in a quieter manner, then check out apartmentbarcelona.com for fantastic apartments located close to all the festivities in Barcelona.