The Best Party In Spain? Don’t Miss Carnaval In Cadiz

Crazy Carnival in Cadiz

By Christine Medina

As February ushers in Valentine’s Day, in Spain, it also means weeks of celebrating before Lent. Though Carnaval is celebrated the world over, Spaniards celebrate grandly, in true Spanish style.

One of the biggest celebrations in Spain, as well as in the world, are the Carnavales celebrated in the seaside city of Cádiz. In the 16th Century when Cádiz was a major port city, not only products were traded. Cádiz traded often with Venice and ended up bringing Venetian tradition to Iberia, in the form of Carnaval. Aside from the fame of Tenerife’s Carnavales in the Canary Islands, Carnaval in Cádiz proudly holds a reputation for being mainland Spain‘s liveliest and grandest.

Picture thousands of people dressed up in quirky costumes, drinking and laughing in large plazas and narrow streets. Imagine musical groups, called chirigotas, singing about current events with satirical flair up on stage for all to see.

Chirigotas in Cadiz

This isn’t your average fiesta: Carnaval in Cádiz is truly an experience that needs to be added to your bucket list immediately. The Cádiz population spends the entire year preparing and rehearing for the next year’s festivities, and celebrations last for up to two weeks.

Grand Teatro in Cadiz is the place to see Carnaval performances.

Choirs travel through the streets in wagons switching between serious and comical repertory, while comparsas provide a more serious counterpart to the chirigotas. Other musical entertainers roam the streets too, such as cuartetos which are made up of three to five members with a kazoo and sticks and perform funny skits. Meanwhile, you will also see the romanceros about, a single person with an easel who paints while reciting verses.   There’s entertainment for everyone, and as much as Carnaval can be a rowdy place for revelers and merrymakers, there are plenty of parades during the day for those who don’t want to drink until sunrise.

Christine Medina shares her travel advice anecdotes and photographs at

Photo Credits:
Gran Teatro Falla
Chirigotas performing

7 Responses

  1. robin says:

    Bottles of manzanilla wine are on sale for five or six euros along with a couple of plastic glasses, so we felt very decadent wandering through the (absolutely crazy) streets with a bottle of booze last year till the small hours. And then another bottle of booze…

    It is a seriously impressive affair. We’re going to alternate years and are quite relieved that this is an off year – it’s unseasonably cold, even down here!

  2. Right, based on Christine’s write-up and Robin’s comments I’m there! Just need to work out which students to tag along with and what will be the poison of choice.

  3. nancy todd says:

    Plastic glasses and wine at a festival are the perfect pair. Love these Spanish festivals. Are you taking your cat next year?

  4. I read somewhere that at one point in time Carnaval was celebrated all over Spain, but it was repressed under Franco. And that only a couple of cities (Cadiz one of them) dared to continue the tradition. Sounds like fun!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I went to Carnival in Cadiz 4 years ago and it was RIDICULOUS! So much fun, but I think once was enough for me.

  6. admin says:

    I’m off to the Sitges Carnival this year, but hope to make it Cadiz next year!

  1. February 16, 2012

    […] to lavish carnival celebrations of its own, such as the all night parties of carnival hotspots like Cadiz and Tenerife. Surprisingly, and despite living in El Puerto de Santa María, I’ve never been to […]

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