We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

My Carnival experience: 2010

Connecticut
Level Contributor
223 posts
146 reviews
Save Topic
My Carnival experience: 2010

I've gone for Carnival Week a couple times before in recent years, but this year's theme, "Jungle Fantasy", was much more fun and open-ended than the other two (Wild Wild West, and Summer of Love) were. Many of the costumes and floats were brilliant. Some were absurd and delightful. Personally, I found Bubala's "Curse of the Black Mamba" float to be the best large float, and I think the pedicabs decorated like animal traps gets a nod for best small float. I tip my hat to the creativity and energy so many, locals and tourists alike, threw into the event week.

For food, I ate at Front Street twice. Edwige's menu was too sim ilar to last year's. Ross' Grill seemed too full. I ate at Victor's once. Front Street still keeps my A+, and Victor's gets a solid A for the nice tapas and the reinvention of an old building (it was once the snack shack, Silva's, where we used to get fried clams and watch skunks come perilously close to the picnic tables. Nice update to a site. Snacks and small fare were gained at Burger Queen, Lucky Dog P-town, Relish, Purple Feather, Twisted Sister. Frappo66 was good for a quick, hearty meal (and the half portions of the entrees at $10 still include 3 sides - what an absolute bargain! Their Israeli couscous was so good, I wanted a big bowl of just that.) The biggest mistake I made, dining-wise was allowing a friend to talk me into eating at the Surf Club. The food was awful, the service was slow and unattentive, and we could hear the waitresses and buspeople arguing behind us. The view at Surf Club is amazing, with a dioramic view of the bay beach, the harbor, and the milling pier pedestrian traffic. Someone should revitalize this place and turn it into something less offensive. I shudder to think that this will be the ferry and bus visitor's first feel of P-town fresh off the boat or long bus ride...

Show-wise, Carnival itself was a show and people-watching is free, but I also took in Dina Martina's act (she's an adorable drag presence, employing wit and wordplay and goofy self-defacement, in a show almost worth twice what she charges). Ryan Landry and his Gold Dust Orphans reprised their hit play The Gulls, a parody of Hitchcock's The Birds, employing some current themes and P-town humor. I saw it the first time & loved it, so I saw it again & still loved it. Ryan's a warm-hearted, passionate genius. He's never too shy to say hi to me as he bikes past, but he puts a lot of energy, talent and drive into his work. Margaret Cho's show, while hysterically funny, seemed to offend, upset or lose some of the lesbians in the audience. Perhaps hosting Margaret at Vixen (a mostly lesbian nightclub facility) is a mistake, as her fanbase is more largely gay men and she talks more about gay men and raunch than about lesbians. She'd sell out just as quickly at the Crown & Anchor, but be in less of a niche. Two more events I attended, albeit not for their entirety, were Scream Along With Billy (at Enzo's grotta bar), which was quite interesting and avant garde, but the location was so tiny I got claustrophobic, and the Governor Bradford's "Fag Bash", which had a NYC underground club vibe, a horde of people in self-made costumes and effects, and an extremely friendly, positive, all-inclusive mission statement. Reclaiming a negative word for a positive experience. After I saw everyone's personal magic, I headed off for drinks elsewhere.

I give Joe's coffee a D for the new location. It may be bigger, but it's cold, horribly designed (the condiment station is exactly where those who just ordered are standing, so a big space still has everyone tripping over each other). The old, tiny venue had two benches outside that forced people to interact, and I used to have great conversations with townies, with summer stays, and with daytrippers alike. Now, a bunch of tables hold fort on a large patio, but it feels aggressive and elite, a vibe Joe's used to be the opposite of.

The weather was perfect most of my ten days, and one overcast day and one crazy, rude lady with a walking stick (a local my year-rounder friends tell me has offended many a local as well), can not dull an otherwise really good trip. I'll be heading back again in the Fall, to enjoy Commercial Street in a quiter, less confetti-littered glory.

Mentioned in this post
The Sea
Level Contributor
1,629 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: My Carnival experience: 2010

Fantastic trip report. You came, you saw, you had a blast. Sounds like the perfect vacation experience.

I agree that the menu at The Mews was less than inspired this summer. But it's still a great place. Front Street is one of my favorites too.

Do you think straight people (if they weren't first time visitors to Provincetown) would feel out of place during Carnival Week?

Mentioned in this post
Provincetown
Provincetown
Cape Cod, MA
Connecticut
Level Contributor
223 posts
146 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: My Carnival experience: 2010

I'd say that about one-third of the people present on Carnival Week were straight, many of them families and couples. Despite the myriad gay-themed events and the equally numerous LGBT representatives present, I found that many of the folks present were more communal, more in alliance with LGBT equality and exposure, and in a matched quest to have a great time. Overall, despite two accidents (one of which was serious), nothing negative seemed to be in anyone's hearts. Carnival Week is overwhelming, period, but just like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it's exciting, loud and fun. It's a bit harder to find a quiet spot to relax, but the community seems more connected, less marginalized.

Mentioned in this post
New Orleans
New Orleans
Louisiana
The Sea
Level Contributor
1,629 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: My Carnival experience: 2010

Thank-you for taking the time to present such a balanced review. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time. The weather was gorgeous, wasn't it?

Long Island, NY
Level Contributor
180 posts
53 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: My Carnival experience: 2010

I don't know, I kind of like the new Joe's location. You are right about everyone standing around the condiment station though. I always stay at the White Wind or the Anchor Inn so it's great for me being right across the street.

Business wise I think it was a great move for them - they're more centrally located. In July and August when I was in Ptown, me and my boyfriend were amazed at the business they do - there's always a line there. The new bigger store allows them to move crowds along faster. I kind of like the new location for reasons you dislike it. In the old place there was no seating except three benches which were always full. Many times, we had to leave and walk instead of being able to sit and enjoy our coffee. And when the place was crowded, the line went out of the store since there was only one register and a tiny store at that. My only complaint is the prices are sometimes criminal - 6.75 for a soy vanilla latte. But I understand they need to make their money in a short season.

A couple of questions for you about carnival since have never been but always think about going:

-Are a lot of people drunk out on the streets?

-Do you go out to any of the bars such as Ahouse, Tea, Crown or Purgatory? if so, are they insanely packed to where it's no fun?

-Is the town packed just on carnival day or a few days before and after, as well?

A lot of people have discouraged me from going saying it's too many people, too crowded too over the top...

Connecticut
Level Contributor
223 posts
146 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: My Carnival experience: 2010

To answer your questions:

- the crowd on the day of the parade (Thursday) is insane. Everything is wild, very high energy. The days before are actually just as pleasant as the week before. The Friday & Saturday are somewhat busier than other weekends, but not as insane as Thursday (many people drive up from other towns on the Cape just for the parade).

- I actually loathe clubbing in P-town, as a rule, because it's mostly just cliques gossiping and cruising. However, I've gone into the Wave Bar & Paramount, and to the A-House, during Carnival Weeks, and they're pretty packed, but normal bars are a bit more accessible (the crowds also seemed larger at the Pied, Vixen & Governor Bradford)

- like any resort town, public drunkenness is a constant nuisance one will encounter. I find that every event week accelerates this, as well as use of other intoxicants (legal or otherwise). While the partiers are certainly abundant, they seem much less violent & abrasive on Carnival Week than on the circuit party week.

Back to the Joe's issue:

If the seating had not all been taken up by the same people every time I went there, and if the vast space had any sense of definition and form, not to mention a fluidity of function, I'd have less issue. It felt cold, impersonal, very much like a poor ergonomic Starbucks. If I'm blowing $7 on a coffee, I'd rather give my money to Wired Puppy for not only using their space well, but for being warm and inviting. I like simplicity (Frappo66 is simplistic and low maintenance, and look how beautifully they employed their space.), but I like simple mixed with warmth. Joe's used to be fast, efficient and friendly. Something really got lost for me in that move.

Boston...
Level Contributor
1,692 posts
1 review
Save Reply
6. Re: My Carnival experience: 2010

We stay in the East End so I'll add that not only is the Wired Puppy is friendly-- their coffee is soooo good.

They opened a second shop on Newbury Street in Boston last winter that has spoiled a lot of us for other Boston coffee. And, they just won Boston Magazine's Best of Boston 2010 for coffee in the city.

I have neighbors who walk by and toast me with their Wired Puppy cups as a thank you for recommending it.

Penny

http://www.bostonzest.com/

Edited: 24 August 2010, 14:36
Mentioned in this post
Newbury Street
Newbury Street
2,139 Reviews
Boston, MA
Boston
Boston
Massachusetts
Connecticut
Level Contributor
223 posts
146 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: My Carnival experience: 2010

I stay at Seasons, on the East End as well, but I'm not averse to walking all the way west to Relish for cupcakes, to the breakwater, even to the Provincetown Inn to meet local friends at the pool. The former Joe's location was a great pit-stop for my ambulatory coffee. Now it's more of a hassle. I'll grab my coffees at Wired Puppy, and grab an Izze grapefruit soda at Relish. It's such a little town, and I enjoy wandering.

minneapolis
Level Contributor
36 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: My Carnival experience: 2010

How early would you recommend booking a week 1 room apartment rental for 2011 Carnival? We went this year for 2 nights and were sad we couldn't stay the whole week.

Long Island, NY
Level Contributor
180 posts
53 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: My Carnival experience: 2010

I booked my room for the 4th of July week in February but found I was running out of options as places were being reserved quickly and was forced to book something I may otherwise not have. Many people book a year in advance for bear week, 4th of july and Carnival - they probably are the busiest weeks in Ptown (with Carnival being the most.)

If you're a repeat customer, some B&B's will hold the room and expect a deposit in early 2011. Just think of it this way,. The sooner you book the more choices and more price options you have available. There are also some B&B's (the carriage house is one) that as the date gets closer and the supply of rooms at the inn diminishes as they are rented, the price of the rooms goes up.

Connecticut
Level Contributor
223 posts
146 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: My Carnival experience: 2010

I cannot claim the policies of all the guesthouses, condos, apartments, etc., but the B&B I always stay at has so many repeat guests who go the same weeks every year, they pencil all of us in while we're there and fix the reservations right after the new year. I've been booked for so long, it's now "my room"... at least on my visits in town. Most guesthouses still have vacancy Carnival Week as late as February, but don't get set on specific rooms (many B&Bs have different rooms' styles & decors that appeal in the editorials on their webpages). If the amenities fit your needs, the price is acceptable, and the ratings here are solid enough, there's often little difference between the red bedroom or the blue. But caveat emptor. Some places have rooms so varied in size and comfort. You might get a twin bed under a converted attic eaves if you don't investigate fully. If you can secure your room by the winter holidays, ideally around New Years, you should be fine. Sometimes "regulars" have to bail for a certain year because life happens. This might get you into an otherwise constantly booked place. Fear not, lodging isn't so hard to come by. Finding the "right" place just requires homework & persistance.

Get answers to your questions about Provincetown