Crazy Fun at the Cádiz Carnaval
Nobody quite does a festival like the Spanish, ok the Mexicans are pretty good, oh and the Brazilians, but still the Spanish are right up there with those guys. In Spain they need very little excuse for dressing up, making lots of noise, having a parade and generally just having lots of fun. All over the world at the beginning of lent there are carnivals and Spain is no exception.
The largest carnivals in Spain are in held in the town of Sitges in Catalunya, in Tenerife in the Canary Islands and also in Cádiz in Southern Spain. Given we were staying just a few miles from Cádiz , and that we love anything party related, we decided we had to give it a visit. The first Sunday of the carnival is The Gran Cabalgata (Great Parade) - that seemed the perfect experience for us newbies.
Our first thought was logistics. There is a Area de Autocaravanas in the city, but we were pretty settled in our month-long spot along the coast and didn’t really fancy moving. When we talked to the campground staff about possibly taking the car into the city they looked at us with such horror we knew it was a bad idea. Hundreds of thousands of people head into the city, it goes well into the night and the chances are we would never be able to get home again. Just as we were looking at public transport options the campground dropped a flyer at our pitch advertising that they would be running a bus service into the city for the first weekend parade. Bingo!
On the day of the carnival we did not know really what to expect. We knew that Cádiz has historical links with Italy and a large Italian population, so its famous carnival mimics that of the Italians. The whole town, children and adults alike, dresses up in colorful costume. There would be lots of singing, drinking and a big parade.
What we discovered was one huge street party. The streets were jam packed with people, many of them dressed up, some individually, most usually in groups. On every street there were musical groups singing. Some were larger choirs on floats, others are more informal groups called “illegales” singing satirical and humorous songs. The effort everyone goes to have fun is astonishing. And, as with every Spanish fiesta we have attended, everyone loves dressing up. Lots of elaborate costumes and hairy men dressed in flamenco dresses!
The parade was later in the evening. Unfortunately, we only got to see the first part of it as we had to get back to our bus. It might have seemed fun to be stranded all night on the party-filled street, but our sense of humor may have worn thin once we realized we couldn’t get home.
Despite not seeing all of the parade, we had an amazing time at the carnival. What a fantastic experience Spain you never cease to impress us!