Thursday, 24 February 2011

A Visitor’s Guide to the Carnival of Vilanova i la Geltrú 2011

Vilanova i la Geltrú is home to the most authentic carnival of Catalonia and the most authentic way to celebrate it is to join one of the carnival societies. If you know people who live here, you can be invited and experience the carnival together with them and their freinds, but for most visitors that will remain a depth which you can, in the best case, perceive from the surface but not reach.

But, our carnival also has elements spectacular and colorful enough to impress on occasional visitors.

If you are coming here for the first time and only for one day so it is the Sunday morning with dancing comparses and their caramel wars which you should make sure not to miss.

Howver, in the following comments on the carnival program 2011, I will focus on what I think that you might want to see and why.

Thursday, March 3

Dijous gras ("Fat Thursday") is celebrated with meringue wars. The one for children starts at 17:30 in front of the pastry bakery Blanch (C/ Francesc Macià, 43) and continues in plaça del Mercat. If you want to come close enough to take good pictures, be prepared to get meringue batter on your clothes. The meringue war for adults is short and intensive, but much more exciting to watch and takes place in plaça de les Cols at midnight (00:00).

Friday, March 4

From 18:30 and onwards the Carnival King's arrival (l’Arrivo de sa Majestat el Rei Carnestoltes) is celebrated with a parade, which this year starts nearby Vilanova’s marina, follows the Rambla and is rounded off with a welcome speech in plaça de la Vila. Visitors with an interest in satire based on local municipal politics might spot a few carnival floats to their liking.

Saturday, March 5

In the morning, the carnival king walks around in the town along with his concubines, orchestras and, above all, many standard bearers. This is one of the most beautiful moments of our carnival.

At 17:00, there is major event for children together with Mr. Caramel; first with singing and dancing in plaça del Mercat and then a parade through the town.

At 19:00, in plaça de les Casernes, the mysterious Moixó Foguer starts his journey through the town, accompanied by sleepwalkers. Wherever he passes by the streets are covered with feathers. Very carnivalesque and different!

From 19:00 and onwards there will be short satirical drama plays in various squares of the town - Ball de Malcasats - which is worth seeing if you understand spoken Catalan and want to capture the mentality of Vilanova i la Geltrú.

From 21:00 and onwards you can see some carnival societies dancing and parading in the Rambla. One or two of them are fun to watch.

Sunday, March 6

From 9:00 and onwards you can find the residents of Vilanova dancing around in the streets, throwing candy on other “comparses” but also to the spectators.

At 11:30 and 12:00 there are candy wars for children in plaça de la Vila, followed by four more intensive sessions for adults, at 12:45, 13:15, 14:00 and 14:30.

At 19:00 the dances of Vilanova (dances the Vilanova) are performed in plaça de les Cols.

Monday, March 7

At 17:00, carnival parades for children start from three different squares; plaça del Xoriguer, plaça Charlie Rivel and plaça de l'Associació d'Alumnes Obreres and then converge in the plaça de la Vila, where there will be singing and dancing under a rain of confetti (Comparsa del Vidalet - the ball paperet).

At 21:30, all carnival choirs meet up in Teatre Principal and perform their songs based on local political satire.

Tuesday, March 8

At 18:30 the giants Gegants de la Cuyna Vella lead a parade through the town, starting from plaça de les Neus.

At 21:00 the annual carnival costume contest takes place in plaça de les Cols. It can possibly be of interest if you have a faiblesse for satire based on local municipal politics.

At 23:00 the giants Gegants de la Vella Cuyna lead yet another parade through the town - Ruta del Vidalot.

Wednesday, March 9

Dimecres de cendra (Ash Wednesday), the carnival will be rounded off since the carnival king is dead. From 17:00 and onwards he can be found lying in state in plaça de les Neus. At 19:30 his remains will be paraded through the town and at 20:30 his last will will be read out in plaça de la Vila.

And above all: Forget about Sitges! Our carnival is the best! Long live the carnival in Vilanova i la Geltrú! Visca el Carnaval!

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An attempt to describe what the carnival in Vilanova i la Geltrú is like from the inside, can be found here.

More information about the individual events of the program can be found here.

And here you can read about the historical background of the Vilanova's truly unique carnival.

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Follow the most authentic carnival of Catalonia via the official web-site, facebook and twitter, plus show your feelings by creating your own carnival avatar.

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