Carnival of Cádiz

Carnival of Cádiz
The Carnival of Cádiz is the most famous Carnival celebration in Andalusia. It is known for its acerbic sarcasm directed at politics and recent news, vibrant costumes, and the abundance of music. Thousands of tourists from all over Spain and abroad come to Cádiz every year to enjoy the festivities.

Cádiz is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain so no wonder its carnival is pretty old too. The first recorded mention of the Cádiz Carnival dates back to the 17th century. The festivities were temporarily prohibited during Francisco Franco’s rule but today the Carnival of Cádiz is one of the world’s best known carnival celebrations. Carnival-related activities such as rehearsals, recitals and contests are held throughout the year, stirring up the anticipation.

The Carnival of Cádiz begins on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Unlike most other Carnivals that focus on colorful parades with papier-mâché floats, the Cádiz Carnival is famous for its groups of performers. There are several types of groups such as the comparsas, the chirigotas, the choirs, and the quartets.

The comparsas are satirical groups that sing about recent news and politics. They can be made up of professional performers or amateurs (some comparsas comprise friends, colleagues or family members). All members of a comparsa wear identical costumes. Each comparsa has a wide repertory of songs full of wit and satire which it performs at improvised venues.

The chirigotas are groups of seven to twelve performers including singers, musicians and actors. Members of chirigotas also wear identical costumes and sing together, yet chirigotas differ from comparsas in the tone of their songs. Although both types of groups often address the same subjects, the chirigotas’ songs are humoristic rather than sarcastic.

The choirs (coros) are large group of singers and musicians in sophisticated costumes that travel through the streets on large floats. Choirs alternate between serious and comical repertory, their signature piece is the Carnival Tango.

Finally, the quartets (cuartetos), oddly, can have three, four or five members. They perform skits, improvisations, and music. Unlike choirs, quarters have a purely comical repertory.

The highlight of the Carnival of Cádiz is the contest among musical groups held at the Gran Teatro Fella. It begins several weeks before the Carnival and culminates just before Carnival Saturday. By the way, Carnival Saturday is also the day of costume parties and parades. Many people wear satirical costumes that allude to the recent events and news. For example, in 2006 many wore chicken costumes as a reference to the bird flu epidemic. Masks are uncommon, most revelers paint their faces with lipstick instead.

Carnival of Cádiz

Photo: Manogamos, Algunas veces Mujeres Violentas




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