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Monday, February 4, 2013 (read 3668 times)

Spanish Fiesta: Carnival in Cadiz

by Lauren

The Spanish city of Cadiz located on the Andalusiancoastline is quiet and serene for 50 weeks of the year. However, for 2 weeks in late February / early March Cadiz hosts one of the largest Carnival celebrations in the world. Despite the fact that the actual carnival only takes up 2 weeks of the year, the presence of the fiesta is always felt given that auditions, rehearsals etc. take place throughout the year.

Pre-carnival celebrations

In the weeks leading up to the carnival, there are a variety of pre-carnival celebrations, including the “gastronomic fiestas”. These are street activities organized by the local bars and clubs to create a party atmosphere. These establishments began serving complimentary food such as pastries, oysters and sea urchins to attract more people. These three types of food are now considered typical Cadizian cuisine and there are pre-carnival fiestas dedicated solely to serving these dishes.

Carnival Cadiz originates from the 16th century, when Cadiz was the most important port in Spain. Venice was a trading partner of Cadiz and some traditions, including the Venice Carnival, were copied from there.


During Carnival, expect to hear music in the streets at all hours of the day. Chirigotas are groups of musicians that make fun of famous people, politicians etc. Amateur chirigotas can be found in stairways or street corners, whereas professional groups often perform in open-air venues put in place by the carnival organizers. The Gran Teatro Falla hosts the “Official Contest” in Cadiz. The various chirigotas, choirs, quartets and romanceros go head to head and you can watch it live on TV.

Choirs can be found riding in carts dressed in elaborate costumes accompanied by guitar and lute players. However, it is interesting to note that the emphasis of Carnival Cadiz is on cleverness and satire as opposed to glitz and glam.

Ilegalesare unofficial chirigotas comprised of family members, friends or colleagues. They came into being a few years ago and are rivals to the “official” groups. On the first Saturday of Carnival, whether individually or as a group, it is compulsory to wear a costume. You can buy hats and wigs on every street corner; plus there are some shops in Cadiz which deal exclusively in carnival merchandise.

Other groups that can be found on the streets include…
Quartets: between 3 and 5 members who sing using a kazoo, a musical instrument which adds a buzzing quality to a player’s voice.
Romanceros: onesingle person wearing a costume with a giant easel on which pictures and drawings help him to tell a story.

Plan your trip to Cadiz

If you want to be in Cadiz for the carnival, it is vital that you book accommodation ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Visitors to Cadiz may initially be shocked by the number of young children running around. There is a wide variety of children’s entertainment in the squares from puppet shows to firework displays.  Carnival Cadiz draws to a close with the “Burial of the Sardine”. A giant paper mâché fish is carried through the streets of Cadiz followed by hundreds of “mourners” sorry to see the end of the best party in the world!

Keywords: cadiz,carnival in the world,carnival celebration,spanish fiesta,carnival in spain

Posted In: Travel, Spain, Tourism


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