It is not hard to see the Brazilian influence in the Carnaval de São Vincente. The Portuguese discovered the islands that make up Cape Verde uninhabited in the latter half of the 15th century and began to populate it with various kinds of people they forcefully took there. In a sense, the islands became laboratories for latter Portuguese ‘discoveries’ like Brazil.
It is difficult finding the exact origin, but the Carnaval de São Vincente is the biggest party festival in all of Cape Verde, attracting thousands of participants and visitors to the West African island nation turning São Vincente into a ‘mini Brazil.’ If you have seen the famous Brazilian carnivals in Rio and São Paolo, then you can understand what the atmosphere is like in São Vincente – especially in Mindelo.
Carnaval de São Vincente lasts about three to four days, occurring often in mid-February just before Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the Lenten season. The atmosphere is filled with excitement and brilliant colors as everyone is brightly attired in fancy costumes.
Music fills the air as the streets come alive with the teeming crowd in processions moving around, singing and dancing to the samba drums. There is an air of competition as local districts try to outdo each other in regards to their elaborate floats, with each hoping to be declared the best. During the Carnaval de São Vincente, there is usually a lot to drink helping the crowd to lose their inhibitions.
Carnaval de São Vincente is an all-comers affair. Both old and young, and children can participate in the festival with great joy and excitement. No doubt it is one of the most colorful party celebrations on the African continent.
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