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Each year in the run up to Lent, Sitges comes alive with its most famous yearly celebrations – Carnival. The event is celebrated throughout Spain and indeed, the world. Historically it marked the last chance to let your hair down and get up to mischief before the forty days of Lent began.
Carnival is one of the most exciting times to be in Sitges. An opportunity to see the town exuding some of its most characteristic qualities – flamboyance, creativity and fun. If you are going with family or children, be warned that some of the goings on can be somewhat risqué. However, as long as you are not too easily offended, there should be something for everyone at this party by the sea.
Largely due to Sitges´ reputation as one of the gay capitals of Europe, the town takes pride in throwing one of the largest and most spectacular parties in Spain – one that lasts a whole week. Each year the dates vary, as the festivities must always begin on a Fat Thursday. The largest parades traditionally take place on the Sunday and the Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday) of the festival however the exact dates for these parades are only finalized a few weeks before the event.
The Carnival in Sitges started on 23rd of February, on Fat Thursday (Dijous gras). This was the opening of the carnival, when the King Carnestoltes – the King of the Carnival arrives in a flourish of colour and activity. This signals the beginning of the week of fun.
The next important event was on Sunday 26th, with The Debauchery Parade (Rua de la Disbauxa). As its name suggests, this is a risqué and no-holds-barred parade. It has been known to include up to forty floats carrying over 2,000 participants, well, it´s almost like Brazil!
Then came the Extermination Parade (Rua de L´extermini), on Tuesday 28th. This was the parade to mark and mourn the end of the celebrations. It is often jam-packed with drag queens dressed all in black to mourn the end of the party and the death of the King of the Carnival.
The last, but not the least, was the Ash Wednesday (The Burial of the Sardine). This is the event that symbolises the end of the Carnival and the beginning of a period of abstinence. A large effigy of a sardine was carried to the beach and buried – traditionally, there were no consumption of delicious fish during the forty days of Lent. Nowadays, you´ll find large barbecues on the beach where you will get a chance to try a few of the little treats.
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