Carnival in Cape Verde

Join it next year and travel only half the distance.

Did you realise that you don’t have to go all the way to Carnival in Rio de Janiero in Brazil, and that in under six hours, you too can join carnival parties in Mindelo on the Cape Verdean island of Sao Vicente. Yes, you read that right –  parties. Celebrations already start in January, ending with a big Mandinga competition and parade on Shrove Tuesday – forty days before Easter.

Mindelo is already considered to be the cultural beating heart of Cape Verde because of its music, but it’s also the place to be during the carnival celebrations. Especially the Mandinga competition on the final day is taken very seriously. These carnival groups from different areas of Mindelo, hold their parades on the four Sundays before Shrove Tuesday, and are the announcers of Carnival. Their parades are vibrant, raucous, fun and attract lots of spectators.

Inspired by members of a West African tribe – the Mandinga – who in the sixties performed in Mindelo on their way to a cultural fair in Portugal, the idea of a Mandinga carnival movement in Sao Vicente was born. Nowadays these carnival groups dance and parade alongside the most elaborately decorated floats, in colourful costumes and accompanied by loud music and beating drums. You can also spot men and boys painted black, performing dances like African tribal dances. Some say it’s Cape Verde’s way of expressing its African identity.

Then there are of course the parties. There is the TAP party, which starts the weekend before on the Saturday, followed less than a week later, by the WALT party on the Friday. A day later is the AMPARO party and on Monday the day of the SAMBA TROPICAL parade, you have another two parties, SAMBA TROPICAL and CANAL. The Grand Finale is on Shrove Tuesday, which finishes with the Mandinga competition.

Our Cape Verdean colleague Debu says that the planning for the next carnival start, as soon as it has finished.  So if you would like to experience a Cape Verdean Carnival in Mindelo, or even want to join the parade, do contact us in time and speak to one of our knowledgeable Cape Verde Island specialists on 01768 721 030.

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