Carnaval in Cádiz

We timed our stay in Cádiz to coincide with Carnaval, having no idea what to expect.

Costumes near the Mercado Costumes near the Mercado

AirBnBs were scarce and expensive when we were prepared to book (back in late November), so I used a free night on to offset a fairly high (for Spain) nightly cost at a very nice one-star hotel right in the heart of old Cádiz. We were just a block from the mercado and, as we would learn, in a heavily trafficed Carnaval route. Things were pretty quiet when we arrived via bus on Thursday. We wondered if the heavy rain, high wind forecast would keep folks away.

It was windy and rainy It was windy and rainy

On to Friday, where the weather turned terrible. It reminded me of February on the Oregon coast: enough wind to create some sideways rain. We knew that seeing the finals of the Chirigotas (similar to the Murgas we saw in Las Palmas) wouldn’t be possible (“no se puede” our hotel clerk said - you cannot! Tickets have been sold out forever!) so we wandered over to the Gran Teatro where they would be held to see what was going on there.

Outside the Gran Teatro Outside the Gran Teatro

Not much! Just folks hanging around, waiting to see groups show up and enter the theater. The weather wasn’t too bad yet. We started to see groups wearing their matching costume sets. Groups of Mario Bros seemed to be the most common.

This is what was going on inside. You can turn on captioning, and translation to English, but I don’t think it will help much. I think the grinches might have been taunting Sevilla a wee bit.

On Saturday the action picked up in big way, and the weather improved a bit. This was our first encounter with las Ilegales, the “illegal” choirs that roam around the town, periodically stopping at an intersection, or in front of a church, or on the steps of the post office. We also found our way to some of the more official stage presentations. We loved the Romanceros, two-person poetry teams that follow a strict poetic structure, with severe slapping on their poster visual aid as they finished a stanza to hand off to their partner. You can see all of this in the compilation above.

Sadly the wind returned in force on Sunday for the climax parade, the Gran Cabalgata. The wind certainly made things challenging for many of the performers, but they made the best of it. The quality wasn’t at the New Orleans Mardi Gras level, or even the Three Kings Christmas parade in Madrid, but it was fun and we loved seeing all the families out with their kids.

There was the usual all-day-drinking you’d expect to see on a weekend like this. There’s a reason Monday is a local bank holiday: “hangover Monday”.