Ahhh the infamous Carnaval de Cadiz…where to start?
Well along with the carnival of Tenerife, it’s probably one of the best known carnivals in Spain (maybe the world?) and is a city wide event that usually spans about two weeks from late February to early March.
Much like Mardi Gras, its roots lie in religion, though it has evolved into much more than a religious holiday. The celebrations fall a week leading up to lent, and are some of the liveliest festivities in Spain.
Each city has its own take and interpretation of carnaval. Some cities, like Tenerife and Cadiz spend all year preparing for this, while others such as Granada and Valladolid don’t do much at all.
Cadiz is a lot less flashy than a lots of its carnaval counterparts. Instead of making elaborate floats and featuring scantily clad woman, they focus on humor and with with skits, music, and small choir groups called chirigotas. From what I heard, you have to be veryyyy fluent in Spanish and understand spanish humor (which I don’t) in order to really understand and enjoy these.
Now, I must admit that although there’s this large cultural component, it is also widely known for hosting massive costume parties called botellones in the city center and surrounding areas.
To be frank, my friends and I were not looking to spend too much money in overnight accommodation in Cadiz so we went with an ERASMUS (European Union study abroad program) company that took hoards of buses mid afternoon, and brought us back in the week hours of the following morning.
Groups typically wear coordinated and or matching outfits, so to stick with tradition we decided to all dress as clowns since that seemed easy to pull off.
The night consisted of hanging (or rather loitering lol) the city center and drinking. Sound like a bit of a shit-show? That’s because it was. Not to say it wasn’t fun though, haha. I must also give credit where credit is due, people went all out with their costumes and looking at peoples costumes was a big part of the fun.
So yes, our carnaval experience was short lived and a bit exhausting but also very fun! Honestly, not sure I would go back to just the botellon or to Cadiz for carnaval, but after hearing so much about it I’m glad I finally went!