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Cádiz Carnival or Los Carnavales de Cádiz is one of Spain's most famous fiestas. Held during 11 days in an ancient Andalusian city in southwest Spain, the carnival traces its origin from Venetian and Genoese celebrations. The first records of the Cádiz Carnival were found in the works of historian Agustín de Horozco dating back to the 16th century. With the focus on humour and irony, the carnival with colourful parades, music competitions, and hilarious costumes attracts huge crowds.
Saturday is the masquerade day when streets are flooded with people in costumes and masks, most of them reflecting current pressing social issues and mocking various political agendas. Politicians and celebrities are also mocked in songs and performances.
The major highlight of Cádiz Carnival is the competition of the groups of musicians called chirigotas and comprasas. They all wear identical funny costumes. Single performers are called romanceros. Like wondering menestrels, they sing on the streets about current affairs in a humorous way.
About 300 chirigotas, the choirs, quartets, and the comparsas prepare all year to compete for the chance to take part in Grand Final on the eve of Carnaval, that is broadcasted on TV. Other contests are held during the carnival by various organizations and take place right in central squares. Short songs, called "The Couplets", have to be original and witty. Longer songs are called "The Pasodoble" and are usually more serious. Music and bitter satirical lyrics are in the centre of everyone's attention. The final day of the carnival features fireworks and the symbolic burning of a witch.