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Now that we’re well over the post-Christmas “hangover” and fully settled into the new year, Sitges is now getting ready for what is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most important and cosmopolitan celebration in this little jewel on the Mediterranean: Sitges Carnival. It is one of the most popular festivities of its kind in Catalonia and always brings in the most daring costumes, fun into the early hours and the catchiest rhythms from the carnival groups who make the celebrations all the more special.
If you're thinking of getting away to take in Sitges Carnival 2020, in this post, we'll tell you about all of the most important events that you just can’t miss.
What is Sitges Carnival?
Known as "Carnestoltes" in Catalan, Sitges Carnival has been taking place every year for over half a century (in the form that it takes nowadays), between the months of February and March. It is one of the most emblematic carnivals in the country and the most famous one in Catalonia, with the highest levels of attendance. Music, dancing, costumes and a great atmosphere fill the streets of Sitges in an event that pulls in around 300,000 people every year.
However, to learn about the origins of the Sitges Carnival, we need to travel back in time some years. Sitges Carnestoltes started to become relevant towards the end of the 19th Century with the creation of the organisation Societat Recreativa El Retiro (1870) and Casino Prado Suburense (1877), two cultural institutions in the town that brought together those adversely affected by industrialisation (El Retiro) and those who profited from it (Casino Prado Suburense). Out of the rivalry between the two organisations, a clash came about in the Carnival, since both sides wanted to stand out more than the other. Their competitiveness lead to the spectacular Sitges Carnival.
Our Carnival stands out because of its chaotic energy (known as disbauxa in Catalan), always following the old adage “Per Carnaval tot s’hi val” – “During Carnival, anything goes!”. Another important aspect is the spectacular costumes, which are always informal and festive.
When is Sitges Carnival 2020 going to be held?
We can't tell you about the best part of this celebration, you just have to experience it for yourself! So, save the date for Sitges Carnival: 20 to 26 February 2020, when the streets will play host to one of the most popular carnivals. Over 2,500 people will be taking part in the different events and there will be 50 floats, all waiting to welcome in over 300,000 visitors seeking to enjoy all the activities to the rhythm of the famous Carnival King.
That's why, the best option would be to book apartments for Sitges Carnival if you want to party without a care in the world. However, people who don't live in Sitges can also make it to Carnival by public transport (although, if you’re relying on it, you’ll have to keep an eye on the bus and train times) and by car, of course. If you want to get to Sitges Carnival, you really need to know where to park since public car parks and street parking normally get taken up pretty quickly.
Sitges Carnival 2020. Activities
The Sitges Carnival 2020 programme has many different entertainment events over seven days that will set the pace for the town. It all kicks off when, Sa Majestat Carnestoltes, the Carnival King, arrives. After that, the Carnival will see many different activities taking place up until the 26th, which is when the traditional Enterro de Sa Majestat Carnestoltes, (the burial of a sardine) takes place.
The most important events are:
20 February 2020: Arrival of the Carnival King
As we mentioned above, Sitges Carnival 2020 starts off with the first big event on 20 February (Fat Thursday) with the arrival of the Carnival King, accompanied by his Queen. A procession kicks off the week of fun and, as is the case every year, it starts on Passeig de la Ribera and ends up in Plaça de l’Ajuntament with the Carnival King and his entourage reading out his famous sermon to all the townspeople.
22 February 2020. Dressed-Up Bed Race
Yes, you read that right. Sitges Carnival has a traditional race where beds are pushed by teams to see who is the fastest. The race starts at 11 am, presented by the Carnival Queen and the Child Queen. The Carnival King is in charge of ending the race.
Also, on 22 February, this time in the evening, there’s the Tequereque Festa (5 to 10 pm), the warm-up for the big parades at Sitges Carnival 2020. In the evening, a Batucada procession will roam the streets of the old town, reminding everyone that on Sunday and Tuesday costumes and floats will be taking over the streets of Sitges.
23 February 2020: Rua de la Disbauxa
Carnival Sunday The main day for Sitges Carnival 2020. A parade involving over 50 floats and thousands of people dressed up going through the town’s streets. Rua de la Disbauxa is considered to be the biggest Carnival parade in Catalonia, with over 3,000 participants. You can be sure there’ll be colour, music, good vibes, costumes and fun to be had.
Rua de la Disbauxa starts at 7:30 pm at the end of Avinguda Sofia, ending up in Cap de la Vila. Once parade comes to a close, the party will continue, both at Casino Prado Suburense (Festa de la Disbauxa) and at Societat Recreativa El Retiro (Fancy Dress Ball).
25 February 2020: Rua de l'Extermini
Once again in the morning, there will be children’s parade for all the family to enjoy. This is a good opportunity to celebrate Sitges Carnival 2020 with the little ones. However, the most important part of the Carnival comes on Tuesday night with the Rua de l’Extermini, the event that draws in the most people and the most famous part of the festivities. This one you just can miss if you want to enjoy Carnival to the full.
26 February 2020: Enterro de Sa Majestat Carnestoltes (burial of the sardine)
All good things must come to an end, and so, on Ash Wednesday, we pay homage to the death of the Carnival King by burying a sardine. Its coffin travels through the streets of Sitges with an entourage of sorrowful widows following until the will is read out. With this event, we say goodbye to Carnival until next year.
Sitges Gay Carnival 2020
As a gay tourism destination par excellence (Sitges Gay Pride is of international repute), the city also plays host to the Sitges Gay Carnival, which takes place four days before the start of the official Carnival programme and goes on during the events mentioned above.
Pink Night, Shawl Night (when people wear the traditional shawl for weddings and funerals), Tourist Night and Widow Night are just some of the special parties that are held in the gay bars and clubs in the city such as Sauna Sitges, The Parade or La Locacola, as well as many more.
Sitges Carnival 2020. Where to stay
If you're thinking of getting away to Sitges Carnival 2020, the best option for enjoying it to the full is to book an apartment in Sitges and to do so in advance.
* Cover photo: Javi Garcia