The Carnival of Cádiz

The spectacular Carnival of Cádiz.

The spectacular Carnival of Cádiz takes place this year from 20th February until 1st March. There are a number of other colourful carnivals around Spain, but perhaps none is as famous on the mainland as the one held in the beautiful city of Cádiz, which is awash with history.The first references to the carnivals of Cádiz that are known come from the sixteenth century, after Italian merchants arrived in the port city, and it is from them that the people of Cádiz learnt all about the elements of carnival that still exist today. However, from February 1937, at the time of the Civil War, all carnivals were prohibited in Spain, and the Cádiz carnival was only revived in 1947.

Perhaps one of the reasons that this particular carnival has become so famous is that it is almost entirely focused upon humour. The participants use satire, mockery and irony to attack the most pressing social and political issues of the day in Spain. The entire city turns into a festival that is the culmination of rounds of recitals and contests held throughout the year.

While many carnivals elsewhere in the world stress the spectacular, the glamorous, or the scandalous through costumes, Cádiz is distinguished from these by its clever and imaginative carnival attire. Whereas the Venetians wear elaborate masks, in Cádiz, they simply paint their faces. On a Saturday, everyone dresses up in costume, and these are mostly related to the most polemical issues in the news, but what carnival goers want to see above all are the satirical groups of performers called chirigotas.

Traditionally, these musical groups and their lyrics satirise Spanish politics and politicians. There are also comparsas, well-known witty and satirical groups that train for the whole year to sing about politics, topics in the news, and everyday circumstances, as well as coros, choirs that travel through the streets on open flat-bed trucks, singing with a small ensemble of guitars and lutes, playing the famous ‘Carnival Tango’.

Carnival is a great reason to visit Cádiz and discover this beautiful city on the Atlantic coast, and it’s less than two hours from Marbella, so don’t miss it!