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Carnival Tarifa: 07.-09.03

carnival de cadiz

Carnival originated from the Bacchus festivals of the Romans. They used carnival to celebrate and enjoy life before the 40 days of lent, before Easter, required them to fast. Carnival became the festival of overindulging in drink, food and every other pleasure. Everything was allowed.

Masks were developed to allow people to move undiscovered and without fear. For a whole week people could poke fun at local politics without being found out. People started disguising themselves to change their identities during that one week of carnival.

Formations started to take shape in Cádiz always about current politics and the local and national social system. The figures being made fun of should take it all in stride and accept the jokes made about them with a sense of humor.

There are different types of formations: cuartet-5 persons performing a kind of a play. Chirigotas the most popular of all formations, because their performance is a combination of music, verses and jokes. Their performances are also the most flawless. Comparsas a group of several people. Their verses are more serious and praise the city they live in and their women.
coirs is a larger formation. Their focus is on the harmony of their music and their instruments. More instruments are used than in other groups, jokes are secondary. Typical instruments used are a simple flute, tambourines and small guitars.

Until a few years ago, women were not allowed to participate in these groups. Today though there are mixed groups, groups consisting of only women and even children groups.

The closer to the official carnival days the more activities are happening in public places in Cádiz and the surrounding areas. Free fish and mussels are offered to the public. Comparsas and Chirigotas take turns at performing their programs. During the carnival performances will also be presented by so called ilegals. They are called that because they are not part of any official formations and are just doing their own thing.

The carnival in Cádiz is influenced by the carnivals of Rio and Venice. Even during Franco's dictatorship the carnival was continued. It was then called winter fest. The festival had such a huge following that even the government did not dare to stop it. The only restrictions were the wearing of masks and no fun could be made about politics. The difference between the Cadiz carnival and the carnival in Rio and Tenerife are the local humor and originality. The participation at the carnival in Cadiz is huge and most people dress up. When the weather is nice people dance in the streets until the early morning hours. It is a custom in Tarifa to dress up the statue of Guzman el Bueno.

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