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 20th-26th 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 colourful 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 2020:
Dates not to be missed!
Thursday 20th February 2020
- This marks the arrival of the carnival. Expect a huge parade with the arrival of the carnival King and Queen from 19:00.
- From La Fragata they will head towards the new town along Passeig de la Ribera, Sant Pau, Parellades, Cap de la Vila, and the Plaza del Ayuntamiento.
Saturday 22nd February 2020
- The annual Sitges bed race takes place. Beds on wheels are pushed by teams to see who is the fastest! Starting at 12:00 at Casino Prado Suburenc de Sitges.
Sunday 23rd February 2020
- ‘The Parade of Debauchery’ at 19:30, kicking off at the end of l’Avinguda Sofia. Expect bright costumes and music.
- For families with youngsters, catch the Children’s Parade at 12:00.
Tuesday 25th February 2020
- ‘The Parade of Extermination’ at 21:00, starting point at Passeig de la Ribera. More cool costumes and dancing on colourful floats!
- There will also be another Children’s Parade (Rua Infantil) at 15:00.
Wednesday 26th February 2020
‘The Burial of the King’ kicks off at 19:00 at Plaça Ajuntament, while the festival officially wraps up with the ‘Burial of the Sardine’ taking place on Passeig de la Ribera. The tradition goes that the ‘King of Carnestoltes’, who is the ‘Carnival King’ is present at the carnival where he presides over masked balls, Carnival processions and other parades, until Ash Wednesday.
Then, on Carnival Tuesday he is tried and condemned to death for his misrule. After reading out his will, which is always embedded with the idea that people should lead their lives in a carefree fashion, he is ‘burned’ in a public place. In this way, the Carnival King is used as a scapegoat, is a symbol that Carnival is over and Lent has begun, that is, seven weeks of austerity and abstinence.
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 LGBT 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 LGBT 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.
It’s easy to get to Sitges from Barcelona, by Renfe train or by car. You can even stay closer to all the action by renting an apartment in Sitges, ideal for those who don’t want to miss a beat!
Carnival in Barcelona
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 end 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.
I think the candy war in Vilanova is on March 2nd. You must have been looking at last year’s date.
You’re right! Thanks for the heads-up! Will you be heading to the Candy War, Annie?