As a New Yorker Caribbean Carnival is a big deal. Literally from birth and beyond we’re whining, jumping, getting excited for the new music made for Carnival and to see the costumes during Carnival. Ultimately we give the Carnival big hitter to Trinidad and Tobago. I don’t think I know any caribbean who wouldn’t say they don’t have ambitions of going to a Trini carnival once in their life. I’ve never been, closest I’ve come is doing Caribana in Toronto,Canada, Junkanoo in the Bahamas, and Labor Day in NY.
Anywho, apparently to non-carribean folks the dream is Brazil, dont get me wrong I’d love to do that as well, but thats not the dream. And also apparently here in Europe the next best thing is Tenerife´s Carnaval. Well here in Spain, especially on my coast (Barcelona), the next next best thing is Sitges!
So, I decided to take the hour train ride and head down the coast with a group of friends. Half of us dressed up the other half didn’t; since they’re not big on the traditional costumes you can literally wear anything. Some people simply wore onesies with characters on them, others mask, others just accessories, and some nothing at all. *the train is about 40-60minutes depending on where you´re catching it from in Barcelona and is only €4.10 per way.*
The actual parade starts around 6pm, before that is the kiddie parade. So it’s depending on what you´re looking to get out of your experience how you determine what time to go. For instance if you want to spend time on the beach first, explore, get a good position, or choose which side of the parade you´d like to sit on go earlier or if just to party go later. *there are two tracks for the parade, so it starts on the side closest to the water, then the floats end up eventually making a turn and going down the same street parallel to it.*
When we first got there we carbed up, there was this nice empanada/pizza place about €2 per item. Then we went to a supermercado and bought a bottle of rum and coke. Liquor around the area is typically priced and not more expensive just because of location, so you don’t HAVE to buy before hand . *this, like typical, is an outside event. Therefore there aren’t any regulations on what you can have/bring. Also its okay to drink on the streets here. With that said I recommend eating ahead of time, bringing cash for easy food purchase and splitting cost of things with friends*
There’s really only 3 zones to choose between to go. Two of which are streets that are packed with clubs and bars and then the beach. The good go to streets are Carrer Bonaire and Carrer de la Bassa-Rodona. I had a backpack (typical festival style) which came in super handy but was annoying lugging around from place to place. *The streets get extremely packed and the clubs get extremely crowded. Annoyingly so. Not saying don’t go to the clubs, DEFINITELY go to the clubs, but I suggest not having big bags or jackets and having cash on you so that when you’re hopping in and out of places its easier.*
So how was Sitges Carnaval different from one’s I´ve experienced or expected? A lot of ways. It was a mix between The Pride Parade meets the Puerto Rican day parade meets the Labor Day Parade. It isn’t what i’m typically use to for Carnival, but then again i’m Caribbean and use to more soca/reggae and dancing. There wasn’t much dancing along side the parade. Moreso just the parade, people on the sidelines, and then clubs. *The music was very hispanic, mostly reggaeton, salsa, and merengue. The costumes were mixed, some floats had the traditional Carnival skimpier outfits with lots of embroidery and feathers, while most were simply either very glittery regularly made costumes such as dresses/pants suits or tutus. The floats were cool and creative, a bit small and there weren’t much of following in front of or behind them of people.*
All in all I had a great time. I didn’t realize how many people I actually knew in Barcelona until I went to Sitges and kept running into people I knew. It was a fun time and I would definietly go back.