If you don’t know where Sitges is, it is a coastal town in Spain’s Catalonia region, southwest of Barcelona city. Sitges is surrounded by beautiful mountains and known for its incredible Mediterranean beaches and seafront promenade. You’ll find along this seafront some eye-catching grand mansions. The town itself is filled with cute shops, restaurants, as well as many gaybars and nightclubs. There’s so much that Sitges has to offer, but their carnival is something which you can’t miss out on.
If you’re visiting Barcelona this Feb, live in the city or closeby, this carnival is one of the biggest and most anticipated in Europe. It is only 45 minutes on the train from Barcelona and one of the top ten carnival celebrations in the world!
When does the Sitges Carnival take place?
The carnival takes place every Thursday prior to Ash Wednesday, beginning when the King of Carnival arrives into town and ends when he leaves on Ash Wednesday. This year the carnival will begin on the 24th of February and go on until the 2nd of March.
The parade will begin around 7pm at La Fragata, where it will move onto the Passeig de Ribera, onto Sant Pau, Parellades and so on. The idea of the Sitges carnival is to encourage people to let their hair down and get up to mischief before the forty days of lent begin.
What is the Sitges Carnival?
This fantastic fiesta is famous for its colourful parades, costumes, masks, folk dances, timeless traditions and delectable gastronomy. They have 50 floats, 3000 participants, 300,000 people attending and 24/7 non stop partying.
The Sitges Carnival is considered to be one of the wildest parties across Spain, allowing its participants to really give into temptation one last time. Sitges Carnival is very popular with the gay community, largely due to the reputation that Sitges has as being a gay capital of Europe. Although the carnival itself isn’t a gay event, the influence of the community has on the celebration creates a more diverse and open party.
What goes on at the Sitges festival?
During this week-long non-stop party, people from all age groups join in by dressing up in crazy costumes to take to the street. The streets are full of socialising, singing, dancing, partying and more. Along with the carnival are the bars and clubs which join in in hosting endless parties all week.
The two most popular parades are the Debauchery Parade and Extermination Parade, both huge events with thousands of participants and loads of floats! As well as this, there are a plethora of unique events like drag shows, contests, concerts, fireworks, cultural events and traditional dances.
Dates you can’t miss out on:
Thursday 24th February 2022: Fat Thursday at Sitges
On Thursday, there is the opening of the event, in which the King of the Carnival arrives at the festival. This will be a flourish of colour and activity, signalling the week of fun commencing.
Sunday 27th February 2022: The Debauchery Parade
As mentioned before, this is one of the main events at the Sitges carnival. This is a risqué and no-holds-barred parade. This event in particular has been known to include up to forty floats which carry over 2,000 participants.
Tuesday 1st March 2022: Rua de l’Extermini
This is the parade to mark the final celebrations. This is usually jam packed with drag queens dressed all in black to mourn the end of the incredible carnival and the death of the King. This is the final day before lent begins and everyone heads to Sitges on this day.
Wednesday 2nd March 2022: Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday is the symbol of the end of the fiesta. The burial of the Sardine takes place where a large effigy of a sardine is carried to the beach and buried.
The Sitges festival has a huge emphasis on live music, featuring awesome groups such as the Sabor a Xocolat or Markatú Batucada. This means there is endless free entertainment for you to enjoy.
Considering the entire carnival leads up to Ash Wednesday, and the season of Lent, it is no surprise that local dishes can be enjoyed among the Spanish community. These dishes may include your traditional Spanish tortilla, or the Catalan butifarra.
The Burial of the Sardine which takes place on Ash Wednesday also symbolises the abstinence from fish and sweets for the following 40 days leading up to Easter.
It is also traditional for the main events of the festival such as the Rua del Extermini, one of the biggest parades as mentioned before, to be carried down to the seaside. From here, it is tradition for DJ’s and bands to play tunes all night long, with revellers letting their masks hide their identities.
Not just Sitges… Carnival in Barcelona
These wild celebrations do not only take place in Sitges. The Carnival celebrations can be found across Barcelona, whilst perhaps not as vibrant as Sitges, you will still find parades going on towards the end of February.
If you are looking to get your fiesta on, and fancy staying in Barcelona during the celebrations, check out our stunning apartments available for short term stays all over the city.