The Carnival of Cádiz is the most typical festival of Cádiz
Cádiz is an ancient, seafaring City on the Atlantic (along the Andalusian Coast) which means it enjoys a nice regular cooling breeze running across itself. Traditionally, its date of establishment is about 1100 BC. Cadiz is quiet and serene, except when it plays host to Spain's ultimate party: Carnaval de Cádiz, with its choruses, fancy-dress/costume processions, jokes, disguises and float parade.
Cadiz is famous for the sense of humour of its citizens and the age-old Carnival where authority, politicians, celebrities and the church are parodied and ridiculed with unparalleled skill and wit in comic song. The central figures here are the choirs, or agrupaciones, which are groups of between three and forty singers. The Falla's Contest is a Music festival held in the Gran Teatro Falla before Carnival itself and, to a certain extent, it is a relatively serious competition as the show is televised across Spain. Competition is keen, and contestants spend months in preparation.
The most popular type of group is the chirigotas, choirs normally of ten unison or close-harmony singers, accompanied by bombo, caja (drum, box - used as a percussion instrument) and guitar. Their repertoire is the most satirical of the different types of groups and the literary quality of the songs can be very high (they may be written by local authors). Only a few musical forms such as the tango or pasodoble are used, so that everyone knows the tune and can concentrate on the words.
As the story goes, the Carnaval fun began in the 17th century when the city tried to outdo the opulent carnival celebrations of Venice. The crews of the great Spanish port on the Atlantic spread their Carnaval song afar, most notably to Tenerife, which has similar competitions for their world-famous Carnaval. The galleons returned from the New World with not only gold and silver, but with even more powerful treasure: the rhythms and musical influences that still dominate today's Carnival. African and Creole rhythms, sambas and rustic Colombian tunes all intermingle in the streets with local Andalusian songs and traditional flamenco music. During the country's civil war in the 1930s, Gen. Francisco Franco banned Carnival in certain areas because of its anti-authority theme. In 1937, he abolished it entirely when fear of revolt was greatest.
In Cádiz, however, the party never stopped. Today, the town of 160,000 people begins planning six months in advance for the parades and the singing showdowns at the theater.
While many Carnivals end the day before the beginning of Lent, the party goes on several more days in Cádiz. Parades are held on the Sundays before and after Ash Wednesday.