While it may seem bold to compare it to Rio de Janeiro or Salvador da Bahia, the Mindelo Carnival on the island of São Vicente is a truly captivating experience. As legendary singer Cesaria Evora once said, “Mindelo is like a little Brazil.”
A more intimate experience:
Unlike the sprawling metropolises of Rio or Salvador, the Mindelo Carnival is a much more intimate affair. This makes it easy to get to all the key action and ensures you don’t miss out on anything. Mindelo is easily explored on foot during the carnival, and it’s also much more affordable than many other carnival celebrations around the world. Accommodation and flight prices don’t double or triple during carnival as they do in many popular destinations.
The captivating Mandinga groups:
One of the biggest attractions of the Mindelo Carnival is the Mandinga groups. The Mandinka are an ethnic group originating from other West African countries such as Senegal and Gambia. In their honour, members of the Mandinga groups started dressing up as warriors and taking to the streets of Mindelo during carnival.
In recent years, the Mandinga processions have enjoyed immense popularity, with thousands of people flocking to the city to witness their week-long festive parade.
Parades and festivities:
The Mindelo Carnival officially kicks off on the Friday night before Shrove Tuesday, when a group called Mindel Fantasy takes to the streets of the city centre with a large musical float and thousands of followers. The carnival weekend is filled with various parades from different organisations, such as schools. This is all considered a “warm-up” to the main events of the Mindelo Carnival: the parades of the official carnival groups and Samba Tropical.
Samba and the “sambadrome”:
“Samba,” as the people of Mindelo like to call it, is not an official carnival group. Therefore, they take to the streets of Mindelo on Monday night. Tuesday is then the day of the competition. The carnival groups Cruzeiros do Norte, Monte Sossego, Flores do Mindelo and Vindos do Oriente parade through the Mindelo “sambadrome,” which is the main avenue Rua d’Lisboa.
Unleash your inner party animal:
The Mindelenses, as the people of Mindelo are known, are renowned for their exuberant spirit. Carnival is the best time to witness this for yourself. In the cultural capital of Cape Verde, people always find a reason to celebrate. Besides all the parades taking place in the city centre of Mindelo, you can also attend many private events.
From the Friday before carnival until the Sunday after, when the last Mandinga procession parades through Mindelo in the so-called “burial of carnival,” most parties are sold out. Therefore, buy your tickets early and arrive early to enjoy great food and drinks.
Breathtaking beauty and creativity:
Some say that the real stars of the Mindelo Carnival are the artists who create the costumes and all the allegorical floats. For such a small country as Cape Verde, and with the limited financial resources that are available for the event each year, the spectacle that the carnival groups put on is simply incredible. And every year it gets better and better.
As carnival approaches and budgets are approved, members of the carnival groups work tirelessly to make everything look amazing. The groups choose a theme and create a “sub-theme” for each of the teams within the groups, which they will showcase during the parade. Carnival groups can have up to 900 members, each with their own unique costume and role to play in the vibrant spectacle.
Experience the magic of Mindelo Carnival:
Soak up the vibrant atmosphere, dance to the infectious rhythms, and marvel at the stunning costumes and floats. The Mindelo Carnival is a truly unforgettable experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.