Summer Bucket List: Provincetown Carnival and Parade

Welcome to’s Summer Bucket List series, brought to you by the good folks at Cape Cod Calling. Each week, we will bring you a new idea for you to enjoy your summer here on Cape Cod.  

One of the biggest and most unique celebrations on Cape Cod is the annual Provincetown Carnival. Commercial Street becomes jam-packed with people, many in costume, for this event and its unique parade.

The event is absolute insanity, in the best way. Each year, throngs (and by throngs, we literally mean thousands) of people show up for this incredible day of costumes, dancing, drinking and partying. It’s the perfect blend of hedonism, exhibitionism and bohemian revelry, where almost anything goes.

Partygoers outdo each other with costumes that have clearly been carefully planned and worked on for weeks, if not months. It is an extravaganza of body paint, glitter, leather, makeup, wigs and fabulousness like you’ve never seen (unless you’ve experienced it for yourself). There is so much to see at once, you’ll hardly know where to look.

The floats are colorful and elaborate and completely over the top. Music and merriment are always the themes of the day, although each year, there is a specific parade theme. Last year’s theme was “Mardi Gras by the Sea.” And the crowd gets fully involved, dancing, singing and waving as the floats go by. Why? Because no other party is like a P-town party.

A few words of advice: Get there early if you can, or you can forget about finding anywhere along the parade route to sit. Bring plenty of water (we can’t emphasize this enough). Know where the bathrooms are, and prepare to stand in line. Speaking of lines, if you want food, drinks, ice cream or basically anything ingestible, you’ll be standing in lines, so bring plenty of patience, as well.

Finally, wear comfortable shoes and maybe even a sunhat. You may be doing a lot of walking and, despite the glorious sunshine and warm temps, you’ll regret wearing those flip flops. Trust us on this one. Heat is one thing. Heat, plus tight crowds of people can be completely different.

On certain streets, one or both sides will be posted as no-parking zones, either because the parade is coming through, or to allow for emergency vehicle access if needed. Parking restrictions will be well-marked, and violators will be subject to fines and possibly towing.

Regardless of the crowd, the heat, and the lines for just about everything, the Provincetown Carnival is an absolutely amazing experience and something that everyone should witness at least once. The LGBTQ community of Provincetown is largely the most welcoming, and the most entertaining, creative and friendly group of people you could be fortunate enough to meet.

The Details

The parade will be on Aug. 22 this year, while the Carnival celebration will run throughout the week, from Aug. 15 through 24. There will be tons of week long festivities and events to enjoy, and the theme for this year’s parade is “The Enchanted Forest.” So stay, play, shop, eat and take part in what is always an exciting day on Cape Cod.

Check Out Other Summer Bucket List Ideas on the Cape!

If you are interested in seeing what else is out there to do on the Cape during the summer, check out our Summer Bucket List with some other ideas.

About Cape Cod Calling - Summer Bucket List Sponsor

Inspired by the beauty and magic of Cape Cod, its people and their many creative talents, Cape Cod Calling was founded by two washashores, Don and Denise Montgomery, who now call Cape Cod home. Cape Cod Calling is a subscription box and gift box curation service. Each box includes a variety of treasures made locally on Cape Cod by the talented Cape Codders and washashores who call Cape Cod home. For more information on Cape Cod Calling, click here.
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