Celebrate Carnival the Cape Verdean Way
When you say Carnival, you will probably immediately think of celebrations in Rio de Janeiro or the Mardi Grass festival in New Orleans. Maybe Carnival in a Spanish city or in Trinidad and Tobago will pop into your head. But did you know about the Carnival celebrations on the Cape Verde islands? Especially on the island of Sao Vicente, you will find an almost unrivalled celebration of this festival.
Cape Verdeans love festivities
The calendar of Cape Verde is packed with festivals and traditions. They mostly take place on Saint days, and are accompanied by colourful processions, loud and vibrant music, and huge parties with special prepared dishes for the particular occasion. Cape Verdeans love their festivities, such as National Heroes Day (January 20th), Independence Day (July 5th) and All Saints' Day (November 1st). But the most famous and biggest festival of them all is the Cape Verdean Carnival. Thanks to its Portuguese heritage, the Carnival in Cape Verde is strongly influenced by Brazilian Carnival, and mixed with local flavours.
Carnival on the Cape Verde Islands
Carnival is held in February or March, and is celebrated throughout the archipelago. As Christian (catholic) tradition prescribes, Carnival in Cape Verde is always celebrated close to Ash Wednesday. On the Cape Verde islands, you will see Carnival like you have probably never seen it before. Crowded streets are filled with party-goers all dressed up in fancy clothing. Loud and lively music that makes the streets come alive and creates an electrifying atmosphere. Huge processions with people dressed up in beautiful outgoing costumes are paraded through the city streets, in a fantastic subtropical climate. If you have been celebrating Carnival at home in chilly February or March, you will definitely enjoy the beautiful weather and lovely temperatures of around 25 degrees Centigrade.
Carnival in Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente
The main places to celebrate Cape Verdean Carnival are the island of Santiago, and especially the island of Sao Vicente. On Santiago you can watch the lively street parades in Praia, the country's capital. But if you really want immerse yourself in the local Carnival, you should definitely visit the island of Sao Vicente. Carnival is celebrated on the whole island, but it is best seen in Mindelo, the island's capital and the heart of the Cape Verdean Carnival. Tens of thousands flock together here and participate in this huge celebration. In Mindelo you can see districts compete amongst each other for the title of best street float. You will see spontaneous street parties, experience the abundance of specially prepared street food and hear live music all around. The exotic Carnival in Mindelo will make you think of Brazil, but mixed with local Creole flavours and historic Portuguese influences. And while it attracts many tourists to the island, the Carnival of Sao Vicente is a celebration of local and international revellers alike. It is not for those seeking peace and quiet, as the celebrations can start early in the morning (9 am is no exception) and go on all day long.