A streetwise guide to enjoying the Cadiz Carnival


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I have experienced many times The Cadiz Carnival, in fact, the first time I arrived in Cadiz, back in 2000, was to enjoy this magnificent event. It is mainly an open air party, so prepare to hang out in the streets. An incredible experience for the senses, but also for the soul. The humour involved in the lyrics and attitude are contagious. It takes place 40 days before lent, normally around February, so it is still a little bit cold even for South of Spain, although a good costume will provide enough warmth until you get the heat from the crowd. This would be the first and most important tip if you want to fully enjoy the Carnival:

GET DRESSED!

It doesn’t have to be an expensive or very elaborate costume. Actually, this is a party where creativity beats high budgets. If you don’t have time or can’t be bothered, simply paint a couple of red dots on your cheeks, that will do. Once you get dressed you will be part of the FIESTA and will be considered by others as part of the ‘gang’. If you’re part of a group, consider the possibility of themed costumes. They are great!

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GETTING INTO TOWN

That first year I visited Cadiz I still lived in Madrid. A couple of friends joined me last minute and we drove for 8 hours (normally it would take 6, but my van was an old one) on a Friday afternoon. We arrived at 3 o’clock in the morning just in time to finish our costumes and join in the party for the whole weekend!


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Trains work very well and there are many. Consider this option instead of driving. Parking is absolutely a nightmare.

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Some manage to park and spare the hotel room. This is quite a common view around town, specially on the opening night or should I say day?


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GATHER SUPPLIES

It is not the end of the world but act like if it was! Once you go on the streets you may find yourself stuck in the middle of a crowd and unable to walk to the nearest bar to ask for a ‘manzanilla’ (dry sherry). It is a real shame to run out of supplies the exact moment a ‘Chirigota’ starts its performance. At the Central Market you can get really tasty ‘bocadillos’ (sandwiches) with all kinds of different ‘sausages’. The famous ham or chorizo, but I would also recommend the ‘chicharrones’ with a pinch of salt and a squirt of lemon juice.


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Michael Ferullo, an Amercican visitor, decided to buy his pack at the neighbour supermarket.


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Another convenient option is to buy sea food from the many open air stores set around the busy areas. Sea urchins are a fantastic delicacy, freshly caught in the nearby sea at La Caleta Beach.


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This is a marathon more than a sprint. The party lasts for a whole week, so don’t go all crazy the opening night. The real thing is about to come and it would be a shame to miss it due to a terrible hangover.


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IT IS A SINGING PARTY!

As simple as that. The Cadiz Carnival is about getting together and listening to the witty lyrics a bunch of friends have put together during the past year and are now performing with more or less success, but always with tons of impudence.

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There are four different kind of groups. Choirs, Comparsas, Chirigotas and Cuartetos. Some sing more serious themed lyrics than others. Some participate in the official contest and others just like performing in the streets (‘illegal’). All of them get together and take over the whole town. The carousel of Choirs are programmed during the weekends so you can’t miss them. The ‘illegal’ chirigotas, which are the most funny ones, simply stroll around and perform whenever they feel like it.

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BRING YOUR KIDS

As crazy as it may seem there is also time and space for kids to enjoy the Cadiz Carnival.


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Sneaking into private parties shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve followed hint number one and you’re kind to those you bump into. Gaditanians are such relaxed people all year round that during the Carnival this can only multiply.


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Sneaking into the official contest that takes place at The Falla theatre demands other kind of skills.

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Selu's Chirigota perform at the Falla Theatre in the Official Singing Contest previous to the party in the streets.
The official contest starts a month before the whole street mayhem. Try getting your tickets online, but I tell you, it is very complicated. If you can’t manage, then, you’ll always have the street!

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2 comments


  • A wonderful job Luzia. Well done.

    March 13, 2015
    • photoluzia

      Thank you Federico!

      March 20, 2015

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