Cape Verde Carnival
The Carnival is especially known for its parades with creative costumes, music, dancers and rhythms
The Carnival in several countries marks a time of joy, celebration and excitement and Cape Verde is no exception! It is celebrated on almost all the islands but the main celebrations are held in São Vicente, São Nicolau and Santiago.
Carnival in São Vicente
This is the most popular and well known Carnival and the island during this season usually receives a considerable number of tourists who come to enjoy the Carnival.
The São Vicente’s Carnival takes plenty of inspiration from the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and some local people like to call it “Brasilinho” (“little Brasil”).
Parades, parties and fun are all on the menu! The Carnival is especially known for its “glamorous” parades with creative themes and costumes, musicians, dancers and a lot of rhythm.
Usually on the Sunday before the Carnival the animation it is provided by the “Mandigas”. They drag the most exited crowds with them during a fun and popular parade around Mindelo city to begin the Carnival festivities with the charismatic figures of “Mandigas”.
The “Mandigas” are typical figures of the São Vicente’s Carnival. They are people dressed as black warriors with their skin painted in dark oil, wearing rope skirts, shells on their arms and legs and with a stick weapon in their hand. They are responsible for the beginning of the animation and the party that symbolizes the carnival on this island.
At São Vicente’s Carnival the first parade is the famous “Night Parade” of the “Samba Tropical” group that opens the doors of the carnival parades. The party then goes on all night, even after the parades have ended. The Tuesday of Carnival is marked by the official parades with the groups competing for first place, and to represent the island’s best carnival group of the year!
The Carnival in São Vicente Island joins all the generations for the carnival party and the local people and tourists take the streets in order to support their favorite group and revel in the amazing energy of the São Vicente’s Carnival.
The Carnival in Mindelo has been so successful that they are thinking about creating a museum for the display of the costumes used during the parades.
Carnival in São Nicolau
Despite the popularity of Mindelo’s Carnival, some say that the Carnival of São Nicolau has been “stealing” the crown from São Vicente with regards to being the best Carnival of Cape Verde.
On this Island, the carnival is also very animated with parties and parades providing plenty of color and beauty, accompanied by the joy and energy of the people that takes part of this celebration.
Nowadays, the people of São Nicolau are embracing the spirit of the carnival more than ever and the preparation for this event usually starts after the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Groups gather to work on the music and songs, the choreography, floats and costumes - all with lots of imagination.
During the parades the streets of the Islands are filled with life, vibrant colours, art and good carnival music. Today this celebration has an audience that exceeds the locals and includes people from the various different Cape Verde Islands, as well as tourists who choose the fun and beauty of the São Nicolau’s Carnival.
Carnival in Santiago
Santiago Island has been working hard to elevate its Carnival parades to a new level, ensuring that their celebrations can provide the audience and fans of the Carnival the typical animation of these popular events.
Nowadays, this island has more groups and all of them give exceptional attention to detail to the floats, music, costumes and dancers to provide a lively carnival with energy and the typical animation of the drummers for the carnival parade.
The highlight of this year's Santiago Carnival goes to a group of locals that joined the carnival on a “Night Parade”, as usually happens in São Vicente Island, preceding the official parade that takes place on the Tuesday of Carnival.
After the Tuesday parades, in the evening everyone prepares for the carnival parties where you can find people dressed in all kind of different masks. At these parties fun and the “batucada” are guaranteed and the party goes all night long, ending at sunrise.
The other Islands also celebrate the carnival season but with more modest parades for adults and children - but with the same joy and animation that you find only during the Carnival!
If you plan to come and have fun at the Cape Verde Carnival make sure you book all your flights and accommodation in advance and get ready for fun, parties and lots of laughs. And of course don't forget to prepare your mask/costume to be a part of this celebration, sharing in the joy of the people from all around the Cape Verde Islands.