By Nancy Todd
Chalk drawings on the streets start the party weekend celebrating the Corpus Christi Festival in romantic, gay friendly Sitges. Just 40 minutes by train down the coast from Barcelona, June 25, 26, 2012 is the beginning of the fun. Sitges is walkable from one end of it’s 15 beaches to the other and all through the skinny streets of the city.
Not like random kid’s drawings, the chalk patterns are simple and geometric. Neighbors in Sitges start early morning, plucking the petals off approximately 360,000 bright red, yellow, and white carnations. Then, for hours, children and adults, kneeling on the streets, place the petals on the patterns. Grass clippings, coffee bean shells, and bark are also used, especially along the borders. The flower carpets are cordoned off with ropes and along a narrow path on both sides of the flowers, people saunter and take in the beauty.
Corpus Christi is a celebration by the Catholic Church to commemorate the Holy Eucharist. There’s is alot more than church goin’ for this party weekend in Sitges. The discos throb, general rowdyness prevails, people walk the street with ice cream cones, and lounge on the beaches. The chiringuitos (beach bars) are packed. I doubt these revelers are feeling too holy. Any excuse for a festival in Spain is ok by me.
At approximately 6 p.m. on Saturday, the Giant People begin a procession. Most everything in Spain starts late. Except for banks. They close early. However, I get there on time just in case the Giant People start walking around at 6. I love the Giant People. They are some of my favorite people in Spain.
The Giant People are two and three story figures, heads of paper mache, and dressed in brocades and silks. A person underneath the attire dances the Giant through the streets, with the catatonic glare of the paper mache face . There are usually 10 – 20 giants, all representing old traditions of Spain. Priests, people, pets, and the Giant People have a procession over the flowers. Piccolos toot and drums bang. People carry candles. This pagan celebration also has another show, an outdoor mass. Judges award prizes on Sunday.
How to get there:
From Barcelona take RENFE train to Sitges to the south from the Pssg de Gracia station in Central Barcelona. It’s about a 45 minute ride from Barcelona to Sitges. In the summer months you will want to leave early to beat the rush of people who head to Sitges for a day on the beach. The same goes for returning from Sitges to Barcelona. Many times the Scoopettes have had to stand the whole 45 minutes back from Sitges on the train at 6pm on a Sunday….
Sitges also makes for a fab weekend getaway destination. Book a hotel for Friday and Saturday night and enjoy! Apart from Tarragona and Girona, Sitges is one of the top spots I recommend to friends visiting Barcelona looking for a day-trip.