Sitges Carnival comes to a close after playing host to 300,000 visitors during its last parade
Last night, the coastal town of Sitges located about 35 kilometres south of Barcelona, brought to a close its famous carnival. This event, known for its extravagance and huge number of visitors, is especially popular among the gay community. For a full week, the whole city is dedicated to the celebration of Carnival, dressing up and organising activities for both children and adults. Sunday and Tuesday’s parades filled Sitges’ streets with tens of thousands of visitors.No less than 1,000 police officers were mobilised for the event, as were fire fighters and health personnel. 38 extra trains and 45,000 additional seats were provided to help visitors attend the event. The Carnival finishes this Wednesday with the traditional ‘burial of the sardines’.
Sitges (CNA).– This week, the 40th edition of the Sitges Carnival, famous all over the world for its extravagance and high-attendance figures, took place. On Tuesday night, the coastal town located about 35 kilometres south of Barcelona held its last parade of the year with great success. Sunday’s Debauchery parade alone welcomed more than 300,000 visitors, all dressed-up to be part of this astonishing show which sees some fifty parade floats make their way through the city until late into the night. No less than 1,000 police officers were mobilised for the event, as were fire fighters and health personnel. 38 extra trains and 45,000 additional seats were provided to help visitors attend the event. The Carnival finishes this Wednesday with the traditional ‘burial of the sardines’.
A week of festivities
The Carnival started last Thursday with the arrival of the Carnival Queens and King. They were helped by Hansel Cereza, one of the founders of the Fura dels Baus and a member of Cirque du Soleil. The King’s arrival this year was spectacular and dark, with him emerging from hell with his devils and monsters (the legend states that the great evil king disappeared from Sitges and has now been forced to return so as to maintain order among the people). This year’s two Queens offered an impressive samba show full of lights and colours, surprising everyone and warming the hearts of the numerous visitors.
Sunday and its Debauchery Parade
Sunday is a key day in the Sitges Carnival. During the afternoon, the town is quite calm but people are already dressed up, throwing confetti in the air and dancing until the Debauchery Parade takes place for several hours from 8pm. This year there were no less than fifty parade floats and costumes, and around 300,000 participants. The aim of the Parade is to do a loop around the city, showing off the different ‘comparses’ that have gathered and trained for months to offer the public an entertaining dance show, with impressive hand-made outfits coming in many guises: demons, pirates, Batman, countries such as United Kingdom, India and Brazil, Disney characters, dance schools and many more. The dancers present were both professionals and novices, and of all ages and nationalities. The public was a patchwork of different nationalities and people, from families dressed up by theme to young people with spectacular costumes. Some visitors had clearly been preparing for months, but others were tourists passing by, such as an elderly French couple who admitted they did not know about the Sitges carnival but were quite surprised and happy to be there for this big event.
The challenge of handling a big crowd in a small city
Both Sunday’s Debauchery Parade and Tuesday’s Extermination Parade welcomed more than 300,000 visitors, representing ten times the number of local inhabitants (29,000). This abundance of members of the public forces the authorities to put some measures in place in order to handle the crowd during the Carnival. 1,000 police officers were mobilised, as well as fire fighters and health personnel. For the first time, in this the 40th edition of the event, some stands were erected, allowing 500 people to sit down for free. Renfe, the Spanish train operator, planned to make the connection between Barcelona and Sitges easier by putting on 38 extra trains and some 45,000 additional seats. However at 11pm, catching a train to Barcelona was already impossible and a 2-hour wait welcomed those who wanted to catch a night bus. The Carnival ends on Ash Wednesday, when sardines are buried, putting an end to one of the most entertaining street festivals in Catalonia.