A Guide to the Whitley Bay Carnival

Whitley Bay Carnival is a fun carnival for the entire family to enjoy. Filled with lots of live music, entertainment, food and drink vendors and of course a colourful parade.


Friday May 22nd, 2020


Sunday May 24th, 2020

Days to start

What is carnival in Whitley Bay?

whitley bay carnival

Carnival in Whitley Bay is all about celebrating the start of summer and about everyone joining in and having fun. It is about fostering and encouraging community spirit in Whitley Bay. The Whitley Bay Carnival is a fun family friendly carnival that is FREE and has loads of activities for everyone to enjoy.

There are lots of activities for the whole family to enjoy from live entertainment to rides. The highlight of the Whitley Bay Carnival is the fun and colourful carnival parade. This attracts large crowds who come out to witness the spectacle and have some seaside fun.

The carnival provides a big boost to the local economy and showcases the beautiful town. Last year almost 2000 members of the community participated in making the carnival a success from costumed paradors to volunteers.

When is the Whitley Bay Carnival?

What are the dates for the Whitley Bay Carnival? The  Whitley Bay Carnival occurs on the Bank Holiday Monday weekend in May. The 2020 dates for the Whitley Bay Carnival will start on Friday 22nd May and finish on Sunday, May 24th 2020,

Where is carnival in Whitley Bay?

Whitley Bay is a gorgeous seaside town located in the north east of England. Whitley Bay sits about 10 miles from Newcastle upon the Tyne. The Whitley Bay Carnival will take place in the Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay, NE26 1BG.

whitley bay carnival

How do they celebrate carnival in Whitley Bay?

whitley bay carnival

For three whole days Whitley Bay will be filled with lots of live street music, live entertainment, a children’s fairground filled with amusement park rides, trade stalls, an arts market, delicious food vendors, craft ale bars, themed art installations, parties and so many more fun activities.

The highlight of Whitley Bay Carnival will of course be the space themed parade, which will see hundreds of people in stunning costumes march through the streets while huge crowds of thousands line the streets. The day ends with the Community Carnival Ball which is another highlight of carnival.

Whitley Bay Carnival Parade

whitley bay carnival

  • Date: Saturday 23rd May, 2020
  • Time: The parade will begin at 11am

Parade route: Beginning at Whitley Bay Metro Station, it proceeds down Victoria Terrace and onto Whitley Road, Park Avenue, Park Road and Marine Avenue, terminating at the Spanish City Plaza.

The Whitley Bay Carnival is all about community and this is represented in the Whitley Bay Carnival Parade that features around 700 people of all ages, from preschoolers to pensioners. Several bands, carnival clubs and local schools participate in the parade. The parade attracts record crowds of people who come out to cheer on participants.

This year will be an incredible space/science themed parade filled with lots of incredible costumes, entertainment, drumming, dancing and music. Whitley Bay is home to a wealth of creative and talented people who get to showcase their talents during carnival. You will probably see lots of sci-fi characters this year, a few moon rockets and flying sauces.

Whitley Bay Carnival Ball

whitley bay carnival

  • Date: Saturday 23rd May, 2020
  • Time: 6pm – 10pm
  • Location: the Spanish City Plaza

Dress code – Anything Space or Sci-fi, think Star Wars, astronauts, the Jetson’s, Dr Who etc, it’s your choice so be creative!

Another highlight of the Whitley Bay Carnival is the Whitley Bay Carnival Ball which takes place

after the parade. This is hosted by the incredible musicians the Baghdaddies and friends. It takes place just by the sea in a spacious marquee, next to the Dome in the Spanish City Plaza. 

Like the rest of the carnival the ball will be inspired by the theme ‘out of this world’! So expect to see some space explorers and sci-fi characters attending. DJ Wayne C McDonald will be your spinning the space tunes and sci-fi classics, as well as a performance by carnival favourites The Baghdaddies and friends. So be ready to dance and party. This is a family friendly Carnival Ball so bring the kids, bring your grandma and expect to see some a lot of dad dancing.

How to get to Whitley Bay?

For those coming from out of town you can easily get to Whitley Bay. If you wish to fly then Newcastle International Airport is only a half hour drive away or 45 minutes by metro. To get a quote for a flight click here. From London you have regular services to Newcastle Central Station. Get a quote for a rental car here

Where to stay in Whitley Bay?

whitley bay carnival

There are lots of gorgeous hotels and guest houses in Whitley Bay to stay in and of course because of its close proximity to Newcastle you have even more options if you want to stay in a larger hotel chain. Some of the options we recommend in Whitley Bay include Park Lodge, the Oaktree Lodge, Cara Guest House, and the Lighthouse Guest House.

Check out some accommodation deals here. 

What to do and see in Whitley Bay?

Whitley Bay is a charming and historic seaside town. On Whitley Bay’s majestic coastline is Blue Flag Beach which is a beautiful two-mile stretch of beach. It is bordered by the quaint old-fishing harbour at Cullercoats. Another big attraction is St Mary’s Lighthouse. Experience a little Edwardian seaside glamour at the Spanish City. There is also great entertainment, dining and shopping options.

For more information about tours, things to do, sightseeing tours, day trips and more click here. For a longer vacation check out Tour Radar for some cool trips.

Before you go!
We can’t stress enough the importance of travel insurance! Never travel without coverage! Being protected on your travels gives you an irreplaceable peace of mind. Don’t learn the hard way about the importance of travel insurance. Get a quote through our recommended insurance provider, World Nomads!

What is the Festival of the Virgin of La Tirana?

festival of the virgin of la tirana

Fiesta de la Tirana is an annual celebration that takes place in La Tirana, which is located in the Tarapaca Region of northern Chile. This celebration occurs to honor the Virgen del Carmen. This celebration is the biggest localized religious event in Chile and attracts around 250,000 visitors to this tiny village of 1500 inhabitants.

The visitors come to dance, hear music, pray and pay homage to the Virgen del Carmen, who is the national patron saint of Chile. Over 207 religious brotherhoods from Arica to Copiapó,  participate in this event. This is a beautiful celebration that attracts visitors from not just all over Chile, but from all over the world!

Because this celebration is so large, and the town only has 1500 inhabitants, during the celebration, community-based systems of commerce, housing and healthcare are put in place. Law enforcement is brought in from surrounding areas. Furthermore there is a mandatory dry law on during the celebration, with alcohol checkpoints at every entrance, to avoid public drunkenness.

When is the Festival of the Virgin of La Tirana?

The celebration begins on July 10th at 10pm and finishes on July 19th. There are 10 days of celebration. The dance celebrations are organised around the feast day of the Virgen del Carmen,

Where is the Festival of the Virgin of La Tirana?

The celebration takes place in La Tirana, Chile. La Tirana is located in the Tarapaca Region in Northern Chile, and is about 45 miles from Iquique, a coastal town on the pacific.

What is the history of Fiesta de La Tirana?

festival of the virgin of la tirana

The story about the origin of The Festival of La Tirana dates back to 1540, when an expedition led by the discoverer of Chile – Diego de Almagro, arrived in the area. It was there that they met an Incaican Princess named Huillac Humu, who due to her hostile attitude towards the Spaniards was known as La Tirana or the tyrant in English

But La Tirana ended up falling in love with one of her Spanish captives named Almeyda. She was so in love with him that she even wanted to marry him and become a Christian. Her community was so outraged that they killed both the princess and her lover.

Around 1650 Antonio Rondon built a hermitage next to the cross of her grave. In the 18th century a little town and church was created in that location. Today there is a Museum – Museo de La Tirana located in front of the church. The lovers remain buried in the place where the festival is celebrated.

While today La Tirana Festival is a celebration that is done in the name of the Virgen del Carmen, it still has many traditions that stretch back centuries to the indigenous Andean people. The masks, costumes, music and dance all have historical significance. Descendants of these indigenous persons still travel to the festival to make promises to the saint and to receive blessings.

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How do they celebrate La Tirana Festival?

festival of the virgin of la tirana

La Tirana Festival is celebrated with lots of religious ceremonies, local instrumental music performances, dance performances and parades. The celebrators dress in colorful traditional clothing and the events are an incredible combination of European, Mestizos, Creoles and Indian culture.

The festival has about 250,000 visitors who come to make offerings, promises, give thanks and pray to the Virgen del Carmen and receive blessings. She is the protector of Chile and believed to be the guardian of the armed forces, navy and police. Believers make their promise to her and are obliged to complete their promises.

Dancing for the Virgin

festival of the virgin of la tirana

Dancing plays a major role in the celebration of Fiesta de La Tirana. Dance groups known as bailes come to dance before the Virgen del Carmen, who is located in the sanctuary at La Tirana. Dancing before the Virgin is a very emotional experience. There are about 200 official dance groups from all over the country, who come to announce they have returned to fulfil their promise to her.

With so many dance groups, the performances run for days, and are scheduled around the clock. Every different dance group is assigned a specific entry time to see the Virgin, and they have 20 minutes to dance before her. The temple doors officially open on July 10th, and the bailes and pilgrims dance before the Virgin from July 11th until Jul 14th.

But before visiting her they must first dance at the plaza located at the entrance to the town, then in front of the statue of Cruz del Calvario (Calvary Cross), where a priest formally welcomes them and blesses the group. It is a sensory mosaic filled with lots of color, sound, energy and movement. The atmosphere and energy is electric and the central plaza is filled with thousands of dancers.

The dancers are dressed in the most beautiful costumes with lots of glitter and color. They enter the temple accompanied by their band and banner. Romantic melodies of vintage ballads, boleros and waltzes fill the air and where the songs of one dance group ends, another begins. The dancers offer their blood, sweat and tears to the Virgin.

Dancing for the Devil

festival of the virgin of la tirana

One of the most important parts of the festival is the Danza de los Diablos, which in English means the Dance of the Devils. This was brought to Chile by Bolivian salt miners.

Throughout the festival you will see many people wearing fearsome costumes and masks, which are done to chase the demons away. The demon masks have bulging eyes, curling horns and bright colours.

The Feast Day of Virgen Del Carmen

festival of the virgin of la tirana

You could say that the eve and feast day of the Virgen del Carmen, is like New Year’s. The eve of the feast is a special time. In the morning, the bishop celebrates Mass for the representatives of he armed forces. By 9pm at night, the square has filled up with large crowds who eagerly await midnight and the official start of the feast of the Virgen del Carmen.

At midnight the celebrations begin with people waving balloons and lights, orange lanterns float into the sky, the band plays music and firework displays surround the city. The dance groups take turn dancing and singing, and everywhere you look people are socializing and in good spirits. People stay up all night and dance groups continue performing in the square well after sunrise.

At 9am a major event takes place in the square. The statue of the Virgin, a smaller one from the temple, is lowered into the square. Hundreds of colored ribbons are attached to the base of her pedestal which are thrown to the audience, who hold them and sing while she is lowered. This is then followed by Mass.

At 2:30pm, a procession of the image of the Virgin parades its way through the streets, followed by statues of St Joseph who is her husband, and of Jesus. At each block, dance groups have the opportunity to sing to the Virgin, walking backwards, in front of her, so that they don’t turn their back to her.

Big crowds line the streets and follow the procession throwing confetti and shouting “Viva La Virgen”. The procession goes on for about seven hours, before it returns back to the temple. Inside the sanctuary some associations have been given the honor to sing before the larger statue of the Virgin.

Saying goodbye to the Virgin

festival of the virgin of la tirana

While the dance groups don’t leave La Tirana until July 19th, the farewell song and dance to the Virgin, begins midnight after the 16th July. The goodbye dances can be even more emotional than the entrance dances, you will often see dancers crying. They are done in the same order as the entry dance and continue for 24 hours a day until the 19th July, except during Mass.

One week after the groups have departed La Tirana, they gather together in their home cities for a fiesta chica. This is a follow-up dance to La Tirana. Its purpose is to bring the devotion and joy of La Tirana, back to their own streets.

How to get to La Tirana?

The majority of people will travel to La Tirana from the coastal city of Iquique which is about 45 miles from La Tirana. You can fly to Iquique from Santiago in about 2.5 hours, and then take a taxi to La Tirana, which will take around 40 minutes. You can also reach La Tirana by road from the northern cities of Calama, Arica and Antofagasta. For European rail tickets please go here. 

Accommodation for the Festival of La Tirana

It is super important that you book your accommodation well in advance because there are limited hotels. There are also some private accommodation rental options and many locals will open their houses for the celebration. A lot of temporary housing is installed during the celebration for many of the dance groups.

Check out some accommodation options here.

For more information about tours, things to do, sightseeing tours, day trips and more click here.

Before you go!
We can’t stress the enough the importance of travel insurance being protected on your travels is an irreplaceable peace of mind. Don’t learn the hard way about the importance of travel insurance. Never travel without coverage.
Get a quote through our recommended insurance provider, World Nomads.

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