Last weekend, I had my first experience at a carnival, ever!
Before I came to Spain, a lot of people had mentioned the word “carnaval” most describing it as “some sort of crazy party that lasts for weeks”. I didn´t pay too much attention to that statement, assuming “Carnaval” would be a pretty laid back event with some singing and dancing for anyone interested. How could it possibly span into a 6 week celebration?! Boy, was I wrong.
The first night I arrived to Spain (the 30th of January), my housemate Chris arrived home late as he had been at the beginning of the carnival in Cadiz. He explained that it had been pretty crowded with lots of live music and plenty to see and do. It sounded like fun, but not something I hadn´t seen in Ireland before.
Every weekend since then, I had heard snippets about the carnival in Cadiz, but I didn´t take much heed, as none of my friends seemed that bothered by it.
Finally, last weekend, a mate mentioned it to me, and said we should check it out. He also mentioned it was the third biggest carnival in the world. Wow. We then decided to dress up for the festivities on Saturday night in Cadiz. We had heard that this was the tradition, but we were skeptical as to how many others would actually dress up.It turns outs, EVERYONE dresses up for the event and they all wear fantastic costumes..
After a trip to one of the inexpensive Chinese stores in El Puerto, we all had new identities. Personally, I went as a “gitana”, a gypsy, while Fiona went as a ladybird, Josh went as a cowboy and Matt went as a patriot to South Africa. A lot of our other friends dressed up as pirates. We then took the ferry to Cadiz, where we found out being on a boat with 100 other people dressed up in unusual outfits is actually lot of fun, if a little strange. When we arrived to Cadiz, it was manic! The streets were crowded with people and there was live music blaring through the city. The atmosphere was electric and the party was jumping. The city was alive with colour, celebration and fun.
After some hardcore celebrating, I caught the train home at 6am on Sunday morning, although some of my friends managed to make it through to 11pm Sunday night!
All in all, it was a fantastic event. It was so different to anything I have ever experienced in any other country. It was such a cultural experience and I would 100% recommend it.
I am even returning this weekend, but only to watch the less intense, day time parts of “carnaval”.