Why the Carnival in Cadiz is special
Nearly all areas of Spain celebrate carnival in the period of roughly two weeks before Lent is a time of festivities without inhibitions or disguises.
Floats, music and general merry making before Ash Wednesday rolls around and puts an end to the fun.
The Carnival of Cadiz is special for several reasons.
It´s the oldest carnival on mainland Spain, only rivaled by the Carnival in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, on the Canary islands.
In the 16th century, Cadiz did a lively trade with Venice which brought knowledge of it’s carnival to Cadiz with the result, that a desire arose to imitate the glamorous event.
Cadiz developed it’s very own brand of carnival
Although there are elaborate costumes, parades and a carnival queen (which Venice Carnival does not have), the emphasis is not so much on glamour as rather on wit and satire.
This may well have to do with the fact that the people of Cadiz are considered to be the wittiest in Spain, with a great sense of humor and a sharp tongue.
During the Franco regime, carnival was banned for fear of revolt. But, Cadiz resisted and continued to this day.
More about Cadiz Carnival
The most outstanding feature of this carnival is music and satire.
Singing groups compete starting three weeks before the opening of the carnival.
Chirigotas – humorous groups performing satirical pieces.
Comparsas – most serious groups performing classical music
Illegales – amateur singers who do not enter the official competition
Romanceros – single performers roaming the streets entertaining people
Coros – singing groups of up to 30 members
From the program
Saturday is the day and night of the biggest street party.
People from all over the province and further afar arrive by bus or train, all in fancy dress and you are well advised to dress up too as otherwise you will be considered a spoil sport.
Singing, drinking and dancing goes on all over the city and it´s also the day when the Carnival Queen is crowned.
Sunday The main parade when the processions and floats are shown on which the various carnival groups have worked all year. Fireworks all night and the best place to see both is La Caleta.
Other things to see
Plaza de las Flores where you can see and hear coros on their carrusels (floats).
Plaza de la Catedral where rock bands perform.
Main shopping streets, Calle Ancha and Calle Columel for illgeales and Plaza San Juan de Dios for daily fireworks.
Muppet shows for kids´entertainment and the romanceros whom you´ll find at every street corner.
Don´t forget to sample panizada, fried bread with fish roe on Sabado de la Pinata.
Cadiz is a cosmopolitan city, no foreign visitor will feel isolated as long as they dress up and join in.
Visitors are nott meant to be mere spectators, they are expected to join in, especially during the street parties.