- The streets of Mindelo began to gain colour and human traffic at 9:00 am today with the beginning of Carnival parades by kindergartens and elementary schools on the Cape Verdean island of São Vicente. Mindelo, the island's main city, is known to have the most colourful carnival of Cape Verde and of the region.
Kings, queens, ballerinas, witches, punks and other characters took over the streets of São Vicente this morning to mark the beginning of Carnival festivities, which will run until Ash Wednesday morning.
Pupils at the island's kindergartens and elementary schools left the classroom and invaded the main thoroughfares of Mindelo, with children and onlookers dancing and singing to the rhythm of the drums and sambas.
Tomorrow, the festivities will be under the charge of organised groups from a number of São Vicente's neighbourhoods, as well as spontaneous revellers, all of them promising a carnival worthy of Mindelo residents' expectations. These, however, are but appetisers for the main festivities, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday nights.
The Mindelo Carnival is famous far beyond São Vicente island. Even in the Cape Verdean capital Praia, which is always competing with Mindelo, it is recognised that the country's second city has the best and most famous carnival. In the February days, São Vicente for once is the centre of attention, with most national and international tourists.
Also internationally, the São Vicente Carnival is beginning to attract more attention. By now, it has become Africa's most known carnival, beating Bissau, Luanda and Maputo. In size, the Mindelo Carnival yet not can compete with the tourism event carnivals of Tenerife and Gran Canaria on the neighbouring Canary Islands, but it certainly can compete on authenticity, colour and livelihood.
Although planning is fierce, there is still space for spontaneity. José António Lopes confessed to 'A Semana Online': "We are now only waiting what surprises and qualities this Carnival will bring us." The President of the Carnival Commission of São Vicente explains that his team already had started preparatory works in December.
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