Popularized all over the world thank to the songs of Cesaria Evora, the Carnival of Mindelo is strongly rooted in tradition and, although it attracts many people, fortunately it has not turned into a tourist attraction: the Mindelenses make the Carnival first for them, and then for the others.

For almost a month, the excitement gradually rises, with the training and rehearsals of the groups participating in the big parade: on Shrove Tuesday, the whole city lives to the rhythm of the event, the streets are full of faces curious and eager for entertainment, all districts and all social classes mixed along the processions.

Carnival in Cape Verde finds its origin in the Portuguese feast of Entrudo, which was introduced in the archipelago (and in Brazil) at the beginning of the 18th century, an event itself having a much more distant affiliation with the feasts of antiquity.

A few days before the start of Lent and its forty days of penance (no party, no noise, no meat), the people broke free and fell into all excesses, caricaturing the masters of power, parodying religious parades, organized pitched battles, some naive with a lot of throwing rotten fruit or flour, and others sometimes much more violent.

In Cape Verde, Mindelo has gradually taken over the organization of the largest parade, which attracts revelers from all the other islands (other carnivals, much more modest, are still celebrated on São Nicolau, Santiago and Santo Antão), its reputation is even starting to become international, seeing the ever-increasing number of journalists present to film the event.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Mindelo experienced tremendous expansion through the sale of coal, quickly making São Vicente the richest and most productive island of the small Portuguese colony: the large and small tradesmen had the will and the means to have fun and to organize sublime parties.

“One day I went to the Carnival, I liked it a lot because the groups are very beautiful. My favorite group is Maravilhas do Espaço ("Wonders of Space"), because it's the prettiest. That's why they won. Every year there is a Carnival party at the school. »
Joana, 8 years old

Seeking to run away from hard destinies, the peasants of the neighboring islands (São Nicolau and Santo Antão) came to Porto Grande (the port of Mindelo) to sell their labor force, bringing with them the traditions of their islands. On the other hand, Mindelo was built under foreign influence: the coal deposits were controlled by the British - who also held most of the land - while the cargo ships came from Europe (most often from the North ) to reach South America. Mindelo has already been described as a modern Babylon, a multicultural, multilingual, multicolored port city.

The Carnival of Mindelo will therefore undergo important successive influences: legitimate son of the Entrudo, it will become a little more British at the beginning of the 19th century (with the organization of large balls in the halls of sports clubs, themselves created on the English model), then look towards its big Brazilian brother, while the hundreds of boats anchored each year in the port will inspire new costumes, themes and characters.

Today, the Carnival of Mindelo remains built on the same model: rehearsals of groups in the districts, definition of themes (in 2006, a group paid tribute to the Internet and new technologies, while the financial crisis was the main theme of the 2009 edition), design of allegorical floats in the greatest secrecy, parties aimed at financing the groups, parade of the groups in front of a jury, the award ceremony for the winners.

At the end of the Carnival, King Momo is burned and the "day of the ashes" is celebrated at home in front of typical dishes.