Sitges draws in thousands to celebrate Carnival festivities with parades and pageantry
Just 35 kilometres southwest of Barcelona, Sitges draws in tourists every year for its nightlife, beaches, and also for its Carnival celebrations. Starting a week before Ash Wednesday, the city’s streets fill with tourists from all over as well as many commuting in from Barcelona by bus or train. This year, festivities began on the 30th of January and lasted well into Ash Wednesday on the 10th of February. Much like celebrations for Mardi Gras, Carnival marks the days leading up to the Lenten season with traditional music, games and royalty. Most of all, tourists arrive to watch a fleet of flashy parade floats and various dance and musical performances in the celebration’s traditional parades or ‘ruas.’ To add to the overall pageantry, groups of participants come dressed in anything from feathered masks to full-on costumes.
Barcelona (CNA). – Between February and March, hundreds flock by car, bus, and train to neighboring Sitges for a weeklong celebration of parades, music, and masquerades for ‘Carnestoltes’ or Carnival as it is more commonly known. While many Spanish speaking countries around the world celebrate carnival, Sitges is a hotspot for tourists looking for both proximity to the sea and a citywide party. For well over a century, Sitges has celebrated Carnival in accordance with the Catholic liturgical calendar. Indeed, this year was no different with festivities starting early on the 30th of January and lasting well into Ash Wednesday on the 10th of February. Starting with smaller events like mask decorating and games of Quinto, the excitement heightens as visitors await the arrival of King Carnestoltes alongside the Carnival Queen.
Following the arrival of His Royal Majesty Carnestoltes, the celebration continued with several parades or ‘ruas’ for children and for rival societies similar to those found in other Catholic countries’ celebrations for Mardi Gras. The lavish parade floats and various performances draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year both for the children’s parades during the day, and the rival society ruas at night. There, the floats livened up the crowded streets with live music, dancing, and a colorful array of costumes each according to the float’s theme.
Although the festivities draw from local history and culture, many tourists come from all over to celebrate Carnival, donning masks and costumes of all colors and kinds as part of the fun. As the week went on, the celebrations peaked on Tuesday the 9th of February with the Rua del Exgtermini. This year, groups of visitors at the rua could be seen dressed up as almost anything, from jellyfish and pirates to bananas and superheroes. Others chose to don colorful masks adorned with glitter, feathers and sequins.
On Ash Wednesday, the festivities closed with the Burial of the Sardine and King Carnestoltes’ bidding his final farewell to Sitges locals and tourists alike until next year.