What is Carnival?
Whose ready to participate in one of the biggest festivals? It is a huge street party filled with entertainment, floats, costumes, and more!
Even though all of Spain celebrates, Carnival de Cádiz is special because it’s the city that has celebrated the longest. This big city on Andalucia´s Atlantic coast has been hosting Carnival dating all the way back to the 16th century, and was influenced by the carnival in Venice, a trading partner of Cadiz at the time.
When is the celebration?
This crazy day of events takes place two weeks leading up to the Lenten season. If anyone is not familiar with “Lent” it is the 40 day period before Easter. During this period of time people tend to fast from things that don’t bring positivity into their life. Restrictions like not drinking alcohol, eating meat, or doing other fun things during this time brings a sense of deprivation. That’s why Carnival is a time to celebrate by fitting in all the good things and having as much fun as possible beforehand.
This year in Cádiz, Carnival celebrations will take place between Thursday, February 28th to Sunday, March 10th. If you’re planning on staying in Madrid celebrations will be held Friday, March 1st to Thursday, March 7th.
What can you see?
Live Music and Costumes (Tipos + Chirigotas)
Music is one of the most important aspects of Carnival, and you will certainly hear it on every corner. It is typical for groups to gather on the streets and perform musical ballads that they may have rehearsed over a long period of time. Probably the groups will be dressed in costume with some sort of theme related to Cádiz history. The most well known area to find these types of groups is in Plaza de las Flores. The songs that the groups choose to sing are meant to be both comical and entertaining for the crowds.
Costumes (Chirigotas) are different than costumes that we have in other countries. The purpose for these costumes is to make light of trends and controversial topics. These groups have a wide variety of songs and typically set up on steps or high walls to use as a stage so they can gather a large audience. There is a famous competition of official groups at the Gran Teatro Falla that is quite entertaining and grand. There are more than 100 groups competing with a semifinals and finals, and they broadcast on tv and radio.
Street Parades and Floats
Most importantly, the parades along with the famous musical events are a must-see. During the parades you can enjoy beautiful floats with dancers, singers, and gymnasts. Here you will see amazing performers delivering nothing but a great time. The parades are a favorite event for all ages, and even if you’re older it’s okay to try and catch some candy for a late night snack.
What should you wear?
Almost everyone will be dressed in a costume at Carnival, but there are some important things to keep in mind when deciding what’s best. Here are some tips we have for costume recommendations.
Dress as something specific.
When we say dress as something specific, we mean to wear something that someone else would find obvious. For example, you wouldn’t want to dress up and have everyone asking you “What are you supposed to be?”. It’s important to think of popular pop-culture references when deciding what you want to be. Probably if you are American you are thinking this is similar to Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans LA, but this isn’t the case. A boa and some beads aren’t going to be enough here.
Grab some friends and do a group costume.
Certainly you will see many people in groups dressed up as some sort of theme. If you’re planning on traveling with a group of friends, what more fun can you have than dressing up all together? This might open up more options and opportunities for you and it will help you keep track of the people you are with in the crowds. Grab your families, friends, or your partner and come up with something creative.
Think about the weather.
Most importantly, you need to think about the weather when deciding what you’re going to wear. In general, it’s looked down upon to show too much skin, but it is Carnival and there are no rules. Just keep in mind that even though you will be in Southern Spain, Cadiz is an island and you will be there at the end of February. Because the party will be going on during all hours of the night think about what layers you will want to bring with you when the sun goes down.
Comfort is key.
For the reason that this is a non-stop party it’s best to be comfortable. You will notice that most people dress in this way. When you are deciding your costume think about wearing it all day and late into the night. Also, remember that comfortable shoes are important as well. You will be walking around the city a lot and since there will be a lot of people with that comes a lot of trash, confetti, and more.