Candy rain and fun at the Vilanova i la Geltrú Carnival

If you are a party animal, fancy dress, music and candy lover at home, you will love the Carnival of Vilanova i la Geltrú. It is one of the most reputable in the whole of the Peninsula and very prominent in Catalonia. Yes, there are many places that speak proudly of their Carnival, so in order not to hurt sensibilities we will avoid saying that it is the best Carnival in the world, but the truth is that in any top Carnival list it should appear in the first places.

The Vilanova i la Geltrú Carnival is a perfect excuse to visit this small Catalan coastal town, capital of the Garraf region, very close to Barcelona. It is always worthwhile to travel there, but if you can make your trip or escape coincide with the dates of the Carnival do not hesitate for a second. It’s a fun and perfect family plan.

In Vilanova i la Geltrú, these festivities are lived with unbridled enthusiasm and a truly contagious joy. This is not the case now, because in previous times and also during the dictatorship, they managed to continue celebrating Carnival year after year. Now with no restrictions of any kind the partying and revelry knows no bounds and overflows the streets.

Las comparsas paseando con alegría por la ciudad

You’ve got the troupes walking around the city with joy, no one for fun.

Over time in Vilanova they have added more characters and acts to the party, so if you read the programme of the Vilanova i la Geltrú Carnival you need a good time to be aware of all the events and when they happen. You’ll find several days of celebration chained full of events to satisfy all tastes and also to entertain all ages. Take a look at the official website of the Vilanova i la Geltrú Carnival to find out in detail about the timetable, sites and programme of the Carnival and to get even more information about its history, its peculiarities and the succession of events. I’m telling you, you have to read the index a couple of times to find out everything!

Carnaval de Vilanova i la Geltrú

Carnival of Vilanova i la Geltrú with the children

This is the Carnival of Vilanova i la Geltrú

We visit the town on a Sunday, and the canons mark it as the day of the comparsas and candy wars. It was to arrive, park the car and enjoy a memorable day with the children.

Early in the morning there was already a very cordial and lively atmosphere, with groups of comparsas marching through the main streets and the surrounding area, each accompanied by a charanga to breathe rhythm and movement into the group. Music and commotion anticipate at every corner that a troupe is approaching.

Carnaval de Vilanova i la Geltrú

Carnival of Vilanova i la Geltrú

The candies were flying around non-stop, upholstering the colored floor. Children’s paradise! It has to be said that at the end of the day there were streets where you could almost get stuck to the ground, just like a spider’s prey, from so much candy crushed on the sidewalks.

Caramelos y más caramelos en el Carnaval de Vilanova

Candies and more candies at the Vilanova Carnival

The comparsas invade the centre of the city with their joy and their colourful costumes. The men with armbands, sash and the typical Catalan beret. They are dressed in dresses, a shawl and their hair is adorned with a flower. Each group has its own favourite colours and a large flag is flown in front of them to identify the corresponding entity. Belonging to a comparsa is to understand us similar to military in a football club, something that is carried with pride and “forever”.

Cada comparsa interpreta sus coreografías y bailes por las calles

Each group performs its choreography and dances in the streets

The highlight of Carnival Sunday in Vilanova i la Geltrú is the candy battle between groups that takes place in front of the Town Hall. In turns, all the entities arrive at the Plaça de la Vila and at first the flag bearers of each participating group make an exhibition of the banners. Then, to the sound of the music, all the members of each group enter the square to dance with great joy.

It is very exciting to see the couples holding each other’s arms dance towards the main square of the city with great joy, and after a few moments, a real battle of candies begins. You have to see it, it looks like World War III has broken out. The sweetest of wars, of course.

Kilos y kilos de caramelos vuelan en cada batalla de comparsas

Kilos and kilos of candy fly in every troupe battle

The bundle that the boys carry on their shoulders holds the sweetest ammunition, which at the right moment, is fired in all directions, almost covering the sky by the great quantity of projectiles that come and go. It’s the end, the climax of the contest. The women stand with their shawls pulled over their heads but no one leaves the square unscathed and without a smile.

El mantón de sirve de protección en la batalla de caramelos

The shawl serves as protection in the battle of candy

At the end of each batch of comparsas and of each battle, tons of candy are accumulated, which a diligent municipal cleaning brigade is in charge of setting aside as much as possible to enable the next participants to run.

Toneladas de caramelos en el suelo después de la batalla

Tons of candy on the ground after the battles

Our video of the comparsas and the Carnival of Vilanova i la Geltrú

See here how the comparsas enter the Plaça de la Vila in a one-minute video that summarizes what happens on Carnival Sunday in Vilanova i la Geltrú. That’s the way we live it with the kids.

Where to eat in Vilanova i la Geltrú

Restaurante La Cucanya

Restaurant La Cucanya

On Carnival Sunday in Vilanova you will find many bars and restaurants open in the streets of the city centre. Some groups go to agreed places, with a closed menu in advance, and there they eat and continue later the party dancing and singing in the same place until late in the afternoon.

Vistas del litoral de Vilanova i la Geltrú

Views of the coast of Vilanova i la Geltrú from the restaurant La Cucanya

We chose to eat at La Cucanya restaurant, which is a little far from the centre but has an unbeatable location in front of the sea. There, we took the typical menu of the comparsas and that is what most of the establishments have prepared. These are days when restaurants are not in a position to water down and put together a menu with the three B’s (i.e. good, nice and cheap) in accordance with the holiday.

What to see in Vilanova i la Geltrú

The town of Vilanova i la Geltrú is one of the towns that belongs to the Costa Barcelona brand and is a Family Tourism Destination. This proves a good number of establishments and services adapted and focused on those of us who travel with small children. So first of all, it’s friendly territory for traveling with children.

Museu del Ferrocarril de Catalunya, Vilanova i la Geltrú

Catalan Railway Museum, Vilanova i la Geltrú

Vilanova i la Geltrú is appealing all year round, not just during the crazy days of Carnival. During the hottest months its excellent beaches are very crowded, and the local port is always full of life. The Catalan Railway Museum is also a powerful magnet that attracts many families because inside it there is a collection of locomotives that will make more than one creature happy. Are you a train fan at home? Follow the link with tips and our experience visiting the Railway Museum of Vilanova.

A walk along La Rambla, the port and the maritime quarter is also highly recommended at any time of the year.

Windsurfistas en las playas de Vilanova i la Geltrú

Windsurfers on the beaches of Vilanova i la Geltrú

And we cannot fail to mention or recommend a visit to the Geltrú Castle; a true Gothic jewel of the 12th and 15th centuries that is a marvel.

There is still much more to see and enjoy in Vilanova i la Geltrú. To recapitulate and without wanting to take the spotlight off Carnival, which is what this entry in Travels is all about, here is a list by way of a reminder of the key points.

Carnival of Vilanova i la Geltrú
Railway Museum of Catalonia
Geltrú Castle
Excellent beaches with very good services
Can Papiol Romantic Museum
The famous Rambla
The Sant Cristòfol Lighthouse
Nautical Station
Garraf Natural Park

Photo gallery of the Carnival of Vilanova i la Geltrú

More photos and images of the Carnival of Vilanova i la Geltrú

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