The festivities of the Carnival of Guinea-Bissau

10 Jul 19

Every year in February, Guinea-Bissau dresses up in its best festive clothes to celebrate its annual carnival. For the occasion, the locals revive their Afro-Portuguese traditions around colorful festivities. The four-day Guinea-Bissau Carnival takes place mainly in Bissau and on the Bijagos archipelago, where the different ethnic groups and inhabitants of the small villages and other towns of the country come together to present their culture and traditions. The first day of the Carnival of Guinea-Bissau is dedicated to the opening of the event.  A first parade of masks from each region to the sound of drums showcases the traditional and contemporary masks made by different ethnic groups. Most of these masks were for the occasion out of colored papier-mâché. The warriors wear crocodile-skin suits and parade waving arrows in the distance. This opening parade continues for hours in the streets of Bissau, in a deafening din. The lively atmosphere, the general excitement and the local music make this event the most popular festival in the country. 

The following days are devoted to parade floats, dance performances and traditional music concerts. Some costumes, masks and floats have been prepared months in advance by locals, a work so precise and meticulous that many of the achievements could be considered as true works of art.

The carnival is also an opportunity for residents of all neighborhoods to compete against one another. Each district of the capital prepares indeed its own giant mask, which will then be entered into the contest to determine the most beautiful and grandiose.