Carnival celebrates the town’s creative legacy and history as a welcoming community and is now one of the largest LGBTQ celebrations in the country. Carnival is actually a week-long series of events like pool parties, cocktail receptions, drag shows, and more; but the jewel in the crown is undoubtedly the Carnival Parade. It fuses elements of gay pride parades, Mardi Gras, the Rose Bowl parade, and small-town parades from all over the US into one uninhibited chaotic delight of a day.

And there’s more:

  • Provincetown Carnival is one of the largest outdoor celebrations in Massachusetts
  • It’s been named Best Festival on Cape Cod
  • It attracts around 100,000 revelers from all over in a joyful celebration of diversity.

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The parade has three grand marshals this year:

  • Lea DeLaria, comedian, actor, jazz singer and owner of The Club
  • Trixie Mattel, drag queen, singer, actor and winner of Season Three of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
  • David Velasco Bermudez, Stonewall veteran and Cape Cod resident

The commemoration of Stonewall 50 and honoring the LGBTQ community’s past will continue at Carnival through the annual Carnival flag-raising at the Pilgrim Monument that includes a 100-foot section of the Gilbert Baker Rainbow Sea to Sea flag, on loan from Key West. Gilbert Baker designed and sewed the first rainbow flag in 1978.

This year new cruise line Vacaya, a large-scale full-ship/resort LGBT+ vacation company for adults, will be visiting Carnival on its inaugural cruise; it will be the largest ship to overnight in Ptown.

Themes, themes, and more themes!

Provincetown’s carnival began in 1978 as a fundraiser for the brand-new Provincetown Business Guild, which was seeking to make the town more of an LGBTQ vacation destination… and cure the end-of-summer blues that usually hit the town.

We love themes here in Ptown, and so we’ve always centered the carnival around one. The first theme was A Night in Rio, and since then themes have included:

  • Puttin’ On the Glitz
  • Broadway Musicals
  • Myths & Legends
  • TV Sitcoms
  • Circus
  • Fanta Sea
  • Heroes & Villains
  • Gay Paree
  • Fairy Tales
  • Jungle Fantasy
  • Peace, Love, and Go-Go Boots

Provincetown Carnival Parade

The parade starts at the Harbor Hotel in the far east side of town at 3:00 pm. Know that a lot of people have staked out their spots on Commercial Street a couple of hours before, so if you have a favorite spot, get there early!

What you need to know:

  • If you’re not already in Ptown but coming for the day, take public transportation if you can. Parking lots fill up quickly! On the other end, there’s a mass exodus from town as soon as the parade’s over, so you might want to stay for dinner and wait for the traffic to ease off.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. No matter where you are, you’re probably going to be in the sun, and it’s August. A water bottle is a must.
  • Be prepared for spectacular chaos: you will likely be immersed in the craziest crowd you’ve ever experienced. You may get festooned with beads, you may be squirted with water, you may find yourself singing show tunes—but don’t we all need that once in a while?

And here’s the schedule…

Thursday, August 15
Pre-Carnival Ceremony

  • 7:00 pm: Pre-Carnival VIP event for Vacaya passengers -Tito’s Sundowner at Brass Key’s Shipwreck Lounge
  • 9pm to close: Special Kick-off Welcome Party at the Crown & Anchor Wave and Paramount Clubs
  • 9pm to close: Enchanted Cruising! – The Crown & Anchor & Vacaya present a special kick-off event for the Enchanted Forest Carnival Week with Enchanted Cruising! VJ Tom Yaz in the Wave Bar and DJ Chris Racine in the Paramount will keep the cruising vibe going all night long.

Friday, August 16

  • Friday Evening: Carnival Gallery Stroll, a longstanding Provincetown tradition! Most galleries throughout town host receptions on Friday nights.

Saturday, August 17

  • 2:00-4:00: Enchanted “Yappy Hour” with Tito’s at the Crown & Anchor: it’s a Carnival kickoff for both you and your doggy companion. Pup costumes welcome!

Sunday, August 18

  • 10:00 am: Official Carnival flag-raising ceremony with special guests at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum
  • 4:00 to 7:30: Enchanted Sunset Cruise with DJ Vicki Powell, co-sponsored by Baystate Cruises, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Cape Cod 5, and Binx Health. Kick off Carnival in style by cruising our fabulous harbor with other enchanted creatures while the sun sets over Provincetown, which is always an enchanting experience. Boarding starts at 4:00 and sets sail promptly at 4:30, so arrive early!
  • 8:30 to close: Opening Night Costume Party—the Enchanted Forest Costume Ball! You won’t want to miss this year’s extraordinary costume contest with hostess extraordinaire and Provincetown icon Thirsty Burlington. See and be seen with VJ Tom Yaz in Wave and DJ Phil B in Paramount. $500 First Prize; $200 Second Prize Winners will be featured in Carnival Parade!

Monday, August 19

  • 1:00 to 5:00: The Enchanted Official Carnival Pool Party. No Carnival is complete without a dip in the pool. Come to the Brass Key for fun in the sun, get wet and wild to the beats of DJ Edil Hernandez and party with the enchanted Trenton Ducati. An extra-special performance by AirOtic is part of the fun.
  • 10:30 pm to close: Gesselschaft presents the Magic Garden: come jam at a style, glam, and drag dance party. Join Janet Jorgulesco and the House of La Rue at Velvet.

Tuesday, August 20

  • 3 pm to 5:00: Watership Inn’s Annual Carnival Party with Miss Richfield. Come have a cocktail with one of Ptown’s favorite entertainers.
  • 10 pm to close: Magical and Mystical Party at A-House – Dance the night away with Resident DJ and Billboard Magazine reporter David Lasalle

Wednesday, August 21

  • 8:00 pm: Trixie Mattel Live at Town Hall. – Trixie Mattel is the stage name of Brian Michael Firkus, an American singer, actor, drag queen and recognized “Skinny Legend.” Trixie is the winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” season 3 and a Billboard Heatseekers #1 charting recording artist.

Thursday, August 22nd: It’s the 41st annual Carnival parade!

Enchanted Forest Grand Marshals are Lea Delaria and Trixie Mattel, with Honorary Grand Marshal:David Velasco Bermudez, Stonewall riots survivor. Come dressed in your most gorgeous Carnival finery, celebrating the 2019 Carnival theme, Enchanted Forest!

  • The parade starts at 3:00 along Commercial Street.
  • 10:30 to close: Enchanted Underwear Party: Purgatory’s Carnival underwear party is an annual tradition, and one you don’t want to miss

Friday, August 23

  • Friday Evening: Carnival Gallery Stroll, a longstanding Provincetown tradition! Most galleries throughout town host receptions on Friday nights.
  • 9:00 pm to close: Official Closing Party: Enchanted Creatures Fantasy Ball – The party starts at 9 pm at Wave with VJ Tom Yaz, and at 10 the party moves into Paramount for dancing with DJ J Warren until closing.