I recently partook in an annual festival called Carnival! It’s basically a huge celebration in February, before Lent, which lasts about a week (or in some cases longer) and takes place in the streets of various cities in catholic countries (Italy, Spain, Brazil, etc). Depending on which region of Spain you are celebrating it in, the traditions and customs change. In Catalonia, the region where Barcelona is, they celebrate it for a week, with the largest celebrations on the weekend. Throughout the week they celebrate by eating traditional foods, like the Spanish omelet (which is made from egg and potatoes).
Sitges (pronounced seat-chez), is a small town around an hour from Barcelona that is very well known for its huge celebrations. Because of this, most people from Barcelona head south to the city of Sitges to celebrate there, rendering Barcelona an uneventful place to celebrate. However it gave us an excuse to see a nearby city that I may not have gone to. If you end up not going to Carnival while in Spain, you should definitely still go to Sitges, as it’s a beautiful, small town right on the Mediterranean Sea.
I read about the large scale of the celebrations before I went: 40 floats with 2500 people participating in the parade and tens of thousands of others watching. It was truly a unique experience and the floats seemed to be never ending and the themes utterly creative. Sitges is known for its gay community, and I give them a ton of credit for making the parade as memorable as it was! The only thing wilder than the floats were the costumes! Cross dressers, and costumes from countless different characters from movies (Zoolander, Spiderman, Superbad), literally anything that you can imagine for a costume people were wearing.
Even though the parade is larger on Tuesday, I’m content that I went on Sunday because it was still overall a great cultural experience and I recommend it to everyone studying abroad, regardless of the city.
GSE Spring 2012 - Barcelona, Spain
Autonomous University of Barcelona