Catalonian carnivalSitges, Spain
It gets totally wild when scantily clad Sitgetans take over the Catalonian city during their Carnival. Even in the chilly weather (it’s Europe in February, after all), a full covering is optional and debauchery rules the streets after dark.
When it first gets going, Sitges is essentially a party that attracts the LGBQTI crowd, but after the initial four days it becomes slightly more like Carnival in other parts of the world, albeit with a rainbow hue.
It all begins on Fat Thursday – they call it Dijou Gras here – and the Gran Rua (King’s Parade). Costumed ‘queens’ shimmy down the street and the King of the Carnival reads his proclamation to start proceedings. From then until the ceremonial burying of the sardine on Ash Wednesday the town becomes a heaving, swaying mass of humanity.
The two biggest events, however, are the Debauchery Parade on Sunday night and the Extermination Parade on Tuesday evening. A procession of floats, pumping out tunes and surrounded by dancers, cruises through the streets. Drag performers and dancers from all over Europe strut beside them, as up to 300,000 people from all corners of the globe shimmy on the sidelines. Then, when the parading is done, the Sitges nightlife keeps the party going until well past dawn.
During the day, if you manage to wake up, things are often a little calmer. You’ll see costumed children and folk dancing, take part in a game that’s a bit like bingo called the Great Carnival Quinto, and hook into the traditional feasts held at different points around the city. Try xató (cold cod salad), but hold on to your plate since the carnival jesters have been known to start food fights.
The train from Barcelona takes about 45 minutes. Once you’re in Sitges and the festival gets going it won’t be hard to find.
The festival is free to attend. Just have some cash on hand for the food and drinks.
Don’t forget your wicked party disguise to dance through the streets undetected.