Sightings of velour tracksuits, giant earrings and shoulder pads can mean only one thing – Provincetown’s Carnival Week extravaganza. This year’s theme “Back to the 80’s” will have everyone adding “Thriller,” “Sweet Child of Mine,” and “Papa Don’t Preach” to their vacation playlists.
“Crazy Train” might be the perfect description of Carnival Week in Provincetown – the first and longest running festival of its kind in New England. “Jump” to the frantic beat of the disco in clubs and cabarets where LGBTQ revelers just “Don’t Stop Believin” that the fun will ever end. Ptown is a place where lasting memories are made year in and out if you just “Listen to Your Heart” and, never be “Alone” or “Fade to Black.”
When “Heaven is a Place on Earth” echoed across the land, Provincetown had to be top of mind. Known as “America’s First Destination,” Ptown launched a nation when the Pilgrims landed in the harbor and inked the Mayflower Compact in 1620. That trailblazing spirit continues today with a yearly calendar of fairs, festivals and celebrations, as personal as the first same sex marriage and as monumental as Carnival under the Pilgrim Monument. It is no wonder that Trivago has named Provincetown as America’s #1 Place to Stay in 2016.
“Carnival is a time where quaint homes, boutiques and inns don decorations to carry out each year’s theme and this year we imagine “Love Shacks” or “Funky Towns” during a week when individual and group costuming rivals those of Rio and New Orleans. More than a few Madonna impersonators are likely to be seen this year as 80’s fashion, culture and music fuel the street scene,” said Tony Fuccillo, Provincetown’s Director of Tourism.
This year’s Carnival Week is packed with variety, humor and the outrageous.The fun begins on the evening of August 13th at Art’s Dune Tour Sunset Wine & Cheese Reception. This excursion is a ‘must’ for professional and amateur photographers alike as Provincetown is one of the few places on the East Coast where you sit on a beach and watch the sun setting over the water.
The official Carnival Week starts on August 14th with a 10:00 am Pride Flag Raising at the Pilgrim Monument. Next up, find a gift for that special someone at Bas Relief Park, where you can meet local artists exhibiting handcrafts and antiques at “Men at Work.” If it’s the 80’s, the nautical-themed ‘Love Boat Cruise’ departs from MacMillan Pier at 5:00 pm, with perhaps a few Captain Stubing’s and Julie McCoy’s in attendance.
On August 15th, things heat up as clothes drop off for the “Boys Just Want to Have Fun” pool party starting at 2:00 pm at the Brass Key Guesthouse. From the pool to dress up time, the Crown & Anchor hosts the “Back to the Future Costume Ball” at 7:00 pm. Cash prizes will be awarded for costume creativity, adherence to theme, craftsmanship and sassy attitude.
Join friends, new and old, at the Watership Inn for one of the original Carnival parties – the “Love Shack Party,” starting at 3:00 pm on August 16th. After a dinner at one of Provincetown’s unique and charming restaurants, visit the Paramount at Crown & Anchor to hear Tony award-winning actor/singer/songwriter Levi Kries perform. Levi is best known by the LGBTQ community as being one of the pioneers of the modern OutMusic Movement, singing songs with that speak to and bring the experience of Gay men to mainstream awareness. Cap off an exciting day by dancing the night away at “It’s Raining Men Dance Party” starting at 10:00 pm at the Atlantic House.
People watching on Commercial Street is an art form during Carnival so spend August 17th walking the streets of the quaint village, dropping in on eclectic shops and galleries where locals will treat you as one of their own. At night fall it’s “The So 80’s Dance Party” with a 7:00 pm door opening at Provincetown Town Hall. Come in drag and dress to impress while enjoying special guest performances by Martha Wash & Lisa Lisa and you may walk away with a $500 prize.
The crown jewel of Carnival week is the annual Provincetown Carnival Parade! The always outrageous and exotic entourage kicks off at 3 p.m., August 18th, at the Harbor Hotel traveling down historic Commercial Street, to the delight of costumed revelers. Parade-goers always alert to the parade’s final float, which traditionally unveils next year’s Carnival theme. Following the parade and street party, slap on some leather and head out to the annual “Where’s the Beef Leather Dance Party” starting at 10:30 pm at Club Purgatory.
Don’t miss the official close-to-Carnival party the “Electric Slide Dance Party” starting at 9:00 pm on August 19th at the Crown and Anchor. In the Paramount Room, DJ Phil B will rock the house and VJ Tom Yaz will help you enjoy the countdown to the end of Carnival at Wave Bar.
The best way many find to wind down from the frantic schedule of Carnival is to, well, stay another week to enjoy some post-festivity rest and relaxation. Picturesque Provincetown has land and seascapes, dunes, beaches, and cycling trails through Cape nature habitats rated some of the world’s finest. ‘Second Summer’ arrives in September with a host of activities to thrill you and top rated inns and restaurants to pamper you and “Every Breath You Take” in America’s First Destination.
For additional information or to buy tickets to any Carnival event please visit https://ptown.org/carnival/. For more information on upcoming events in Provincetown visit http://provincetowntourismoffice.org/