All week long there is always something different to do and see.
On the First Saturday there is a Cabalgata (parade) and a kiddie pageant. the Goddess of Carnival is also elected.
On Sunday there is the Choirs mentioned before in Plaza Topete.
On the Monday or Tuesday you can see the burning of the God of Carnival (Momo) in Plaza San Antonio in the Evening.
Yes, there is a God of Carnival even though it sounds highly Pagan to me!!!! Momo is a figure made out of flammable material!
You can also see many of the Chrigotas from the Falla singing on the stage in the square.
If the burning of Dios Momo isn't enough for you then head to the Caleta beach to see the burning of a witch named Piti and fireworks. Don't worry the witch isn't real but a doll like Momo. The burning of Piti usually takes place on the second Thursday and marks the end of the official Carnival.
Though the next weekend the people take to streets dressed up to abuse their bodies further with booze! In fact the following Monday is a holiday called 'Hangover Day'.
Carnival is many things for many people in Cadiz from a mere excuse for a major drinking session to a musical occasion celebrated in the Theatre of Cadiz. Whatever it is Cadiz is famous for it!
It is not like the Carnavales of Brazil or the such like and is indeed as unique as the citizens of Cadiz are themselves.
Let me take you step by step through the proceedings as well as I can.
It all starts a couple of weeks before the musical spectacular in El Teatro Gran Falla in the Pestiñada where the music groups otherwise known as Chrigotas take to the streets of their neighbourhood to give a preview of what is to come during the main celebrations. It is called Pestiñada because free Pestiñada sweet pastries are given out on the street while the people drink their beers or wines and listen to the satirical and humorous songs of the Chririgotas.
The next week comes the Erizada where the whole thing happens all over again but this time isolated to Plaza San Antonio where the Chirigotas get to take the stage for the first time that year. It is called Erizada because free Erizadas (a type of shell fish) are given out on the streets while people drink and enjoy the music.
The next stage of the Carnaval takes place in the Theatre of Cadiz (El Falla) where music groups sing their hearts out competing in the most important competition in Cadiz.
The music groups are split in to the following groups:
Each group takes to the stage to sing several predesignated verses:
La Presentación: This has to be completely original and only last 3 minutes.
El Pasodoble: An original composition sung by the Chirigotas and Compases.
El tango An original composition sung by the Coros (choirs) which is their most valued piece.
La parodia (the parody): Sung by the Cuarteto (Quartet) as their most valued piece using Irony,satire and humour.
El cuplé: Sung by all groups though is the highest valued piece of the Chirigotas and should be completely original.
El estribillo (Chorus): Sung by all groups
El popurrí: This lasts up to 8 mins long and consists of music that CANNOT be original, with their own letters put to it. It is obligatory for all groups expect the Quartets who can opt out.
El tema libre (Free Topic): Is an option the Quartet have. It can be a Popurri or a Parody.
After the gran finale in El Teatro Gran Falla, the whole of the town of cadiz and those from the surrounding villages take to the streets in fancy dress to drink and be merry for a whole week. In a nutshell: The old centre of cadiz is converted into a giant pub and theatre.
The first weekend is the main dressing up weekend though on the following weekend many people dress up too. You costumes don't have to be expensive, in fact the opposite. Many Gaditanos (people from Cadiz) try to not spend any money at all on their costumes or as little as possible. Making them from whatever they can find in the house. There are many shops what sell those all essential accessories or Fancy Dress shops for those with no time, energy or creativity to make their own. You costume should be as original or silly as possible. Interestingly most of the men love to go as women! It seems like any excuse to put on a skirt and prance around goes here!
I decided to turn the tables and go as a man one year. It's best I don't include that photo here on VT due to some of the large 'accessories' I was wearing!
The Competition of music groups in the theatre El Gran Falla usually takes place in February. If you are interested in going then be prepared not to understand anything at all even if you think you speak Spanish. Many Spanish people from outside of Cadiz even have difficulty understanding not only as it is sung in the local dialect but because they talk about things very specific to Cadiz.
It lasts 20 days and over 100 groups take part. The final is always celebrated the Thursday before Samana Santa (Holy Week). You can buy tickets from the theatre a few days before it begins. You can usually find people who have bought tickets selling them on the internet. Be cafeful if you do it this way though.
On the first Sunday of Carnaval you can go and see the choirs (Coros) in Plaza de las Flores (officially Plaza Topete) by the market. This is held in the morning and is more of a family affair though it doesn't stop people drinking Moscatel
In fact Carnaval isn't only a night thing but takes place during the day as most people are on holiday if they work in Cadiz Capital.
During the day and at night you can also see the 'illegal' street Chirigotas which do not take part in the competition in the Falla. These are formed by groups of friends and are worth seeing too. They tend to be highly satirical and sing about the woes and passions of Cadiz.
You can see them station all over the old centre. In fact they tour around the town stopping in the squares and streets to entertain the public.
In the photo along side you can see my Friend Rafa's Chirigota dressed as the mayoress of Cadiz (Teofila).
Cadiz's Carnival is famous in Spain.
It is celebrated during 1 whole week at the end of February, 40 days before the Easter.
From one friday to the next sunday, all that week is holiday in Cadiz, it is indeed the main local festivity, and many people prepare for the Carnival all year long (and I'm not exaggerating!). They prepare the costumes, disguises, reherseal with their singing amateur groups, write the lyrics of satyrical songs...
All through this 9 days you can find at every street of the Old Town people in disguise (mostly by night), groups singing (specially on sundays around the Central Market), private and public parties and many many many people everywhere. It's a Carnival to be lived on the streets!
The best weekend to go is the first, as people are not as tired as the 2nd weekend (after the whole week partying, LOL)
For many years the place to be was “barrio de la Viña” but lately some other areas are investing to get the carnivals groups on their areas, some areas are Plaza de las flores and behind the market (we saw them on the last Sunday on day time and it was not so stressing as at La Viña)
My favourite street at La Viña is La Palma street, even if it gets too busy. Try to get a comfortable spot, and stay there the next 3-4 hours watching the different groups that will pass in front of you.
Thats a good question, on our last visit to the carnival, after 13 years not visiting I founded new things, different areas etc. You can always ask in reception for information, or take some of the informative programs from the town hall or at hotel. But the best option is to follow the crowd, seriously, when you do not know where to go, just follow, even if sometimes, there is crowd n both directions LOL. People in Cadiz are very easygoing and will help you to find your way :-) Take a map just in case, Cadiz little streets can be labyrinth for a tourist (and not so tourist!)
The last night they burn on the beach the Witch “Piti” at La Caleta Beach. In most of Spain carnivals what it gets buried is the “sardine” I will ahve to check why here is the witch, maybe Celtic influences, not sure….
Followed by the fireworks at Castillo de Santa Catalina, the best place to see it is at the left side of the Caleta beach
Carnivals in Cadiz have an official length of 10 days, but it is not real as for a month before at the Falla theatre is the Competition of Chirigotas, coros, comparsas etc…
The previous Thursday to the beginning of the Carnival is the final of junior and the final for adults on the Friday where also someone famous comes and gives a speech to inaugurate it … and the next 9 days is crazy in Cadiz.
The “tipo” or costumes are not as the ones you are used to see in other festivals as Rio de Janeiro, Canary islands or Venecia. Here the most important is the originality and not to spend much money on it, even if lately is more typical that people rent or buy their dresses
The businessmen of the area want to promote the carnival in this area, so in the last years, you can enjoy here a few “Carruseles de Coros”, specially the one on day time, Calle Libertad, just behind the market is a”must” and less crowded than the others.
It covers the Plaza de las Flores (or also Plaza de populo), around the market and streets around.
There are certain days that everyone goes dressed in fancy dress, but do not worry, you can always buy a hat or a wig at the local shops or stalls on the streets. Dressing in fancy dresses is a social activity I think, most of them come in groups, I guess many costumes can be from previous years, and sometimes is last minute decision, like in our case when I was living there (hey normally was exams week or nearby!)
Just the best, so enjoyable ... even if you are a foreigner, the people includes j you in your festival ..., once you go, you will miss all your live.
In my first year, I did not understand very well, the meaning of the songs or the festival, i could not understand how in a week, everybody can change so much, but that’s is Cadiz, all the year, they keep on thinking on the carnivals ... this photo is from the Falla Theatre.
CARNAVALES DE CADIZ, lo mejor donde son bienvenidos todo el mundo, la gente te involucra en su fiesta. El único problema es que crea adictividad, yo seré toda mi vida adicta a sus carnavales, jajajjaja. Al principio no entiendes sus canciones, te confunden las chirigotas, los cuartetos, etc... pero poco a poco le coges el truquillo.
La foto es del Teatro de falla