Parades, tradition and fun! It's Carnival time!
After Christmas, our minds are set on the next big festivity: Carnival! It turns out that in Penedès region, Carnivals have very different origins and therefore, their representations are also very different. There are street parades in almost every little town, so Carnival may last several weekends, so all the ll the small municipalities, which last for several weekends to allow the participants, dressed in extravagant costumes, to dance and prance in every town. In addition, there are very prominent Carnivals with a lot of history, which are long-awaited events in the folkloric and festive calendar.
>>From February 16 to 22, 2023
Don't miss Dance of Mantons (traditional shawls), the comparsas, each one dressed distinctively or the candy war!
It is one of the most notorious celebrations of Vilanova y la Geltrú, the only Catalan carnival that survived Franco's dictatorship and that, to this day, continues to focus on satire. This unique festival has been recognized by the Catalan Government, declaring it a Heritage Festival of National Interest.
The Vilanova Carnival is seven days long, full of events that begin on "Fat Thursday" (Dijous Gras) with the Merengada and the traditional Xatonada. With the arrival of King Carnestoltes, on Friday, means the start of an intense weekend marked by traditional costumes and satire.
Sunday is the big day. The Carnival reaches one of its peaks with all the groups, called Comparses, dancing around the Town Hall Square. Around 70 flags represent the different groups, with women dressed with Manila shawls and men wearing the traditional barretina. They all carry a bag full of hard candies, dance to the rhythm of the music and start a candy battle, a very fun and colorful show. We recommend wearing the oldest shoes you own that day: they will be so sticky afterwards because of the floor covered in candy that you won't be able to wear them again...
The Vilanova Carnival is an institution, madly loved by its citizens, and anyone can breathe this atmosphere of great joy, a moment they have been waiting the whole year.
>> From February 16 to 22, 2023
Sitges has one of the oldest and most crowded carnivals in Catalonia. Again, as usual, it happens from Thursday to Wednesday, and the highlights are the arrival of the Carnival Queen and the Children's Queen, the grand balls organised buy the two local Societies, El Retiro and Casino Prado, and above all, the Sunday street parade, the Rua de la Disbauxa, and the Tuesday prade, Rua de l'Extermini, with costumes and floats in the purest Brazilian style, with lots of feathers, glitter and choreography!
Afternoons are for children's floats to show off around the streets of the city center. In the late hours, people await to watch the wild, fierce floats and costumes of the differents groups, while raising up to the occasion, and wearing clever and fun costumes themselves. For sure their party is going to finish late-or early ion the morning. Usually, Sitges Carnival has hosts more than 50 floats, 2,500 participants and 300,00 spectators.
>> From February 16 to 24, 2023
The court of King Carnestoltes in Vilafranca del Penedès is notoriously shameless and cheeky. The exuberant Concubine, the naughty children, Confetinet and Serpentine, the Nana, the Head of protocol, the Bullfighter, and a whole series of outlandish characters arrive on Thursday to take over the balcony of the town hall to offer a satirical speech encouraging everyone to skip the rules and missbehave for a week.
The star events: the Escorreguda de bars and the Gala Ball on Friday, the impro show of the Court interacting with people around the Saturday farmers market, and the children's carnival in the afternoon.
The death of the Carnival King always takes place on Monday, usually after bizarre freak accidents. The event is broadcast by Penedès Televisió. He might die hung by bunting, suffocated by an egg, run over by a giant bed... every year it gets more and more surreal. Tuesday is the vigil, Wednesday is the funeral... and yes, the parade with floats and costumes takes place on La Rambla on Friday, with the King already dead. And that's why it's called Rua de Resurreccion (Resurection Parade). A jury is going to score the best costumes and floats so they can name the winner.
Carnival days are frantic for everyone involved in floats and comparses. It is common for them to participate in as many carnival street parades of Penedès as possible, so they can show all the effort they have made in a year. This can easily mean parading through the streets of at least 6 different towns and dancing almost non-stop for two and a half weeks.
You can find carnival parades in the Penedès area in the villages of Les Cabanyes, La Múnia, Sant Martí Sarroca, Els Monjos, Sant Pere de Riudebitlles, Olèrdola, Cunit or Calafell. At the end, the comparses are eligible for a whole series of prizes, such as the best local and visiting float and best troupe and costume. Definitely, they are also set up for an unforgettable experience!