London goes Latin for the weekend
Over 60,000 people flocked to Southwark park in London over the weekend to celebrate the 'Carnivale de Cuba', which happens in London every year.
Event goers enjoyed Cuban music, cocktails, food, cigars, dance workshops and more.
Some of the events that took place were performances by La Charanga Habanera and Eminencia Clasica.
In addition there was also a huge reggaeton showcase with the likes of Kid Afrika, Leximan and Papo Record, along with Osvaldo Chacon y su Timba, and the hot new Cuban band Tumbao Tivoli.
A huge Conga procession was also held around the whole park and included hundreds of people!
July is carnival season in Santiago de Cuba, which is a time for Cubans to gather together, remember their history and community and celebrate it.
The festival in London is a nod to that strong tradition.
Carnival (Spanish “carnaval”), a pre-Lenten festival commonly held in Roman Catholic countries, became popular in Spain from the middle of the 16th century, was presumably brought to Cuba by Hispanic colonists (Pérez I 1988:15) and has been the basis for traditional celebrations in Cuba ever since (for example, Carnaval habanero). However, what is today called the Carnaval of Santiago de Cuba is not a manifestation of pre-Lenten carnival, which would be celebrated in February or March, but evolved out of the summer festivals formerly referred to as the (Fiestas de) mamarrachos (Brea and Millet 1993:193). Mamarrachos were held on June 24th (St. John’s [Midsummer] Day), June 29th (St. Peter’s Day), July 24th (St. Christine’s Day), July 25th (St. James the Apostle’s Day) and July 26th (St. Anne’s Day).
But the actual content of the mamarrachos had nothing to do with religion.
“Celebrations based on a religious pretext were always, at least in the case of the larger festivals, lacking in the liturgical character they were originally intended to have. From the written and oral sources, it seems that the so-called Days of St. John, St. Peter, St. Christine, St. Anne and St. James the Apostle were merely generic names which stood for days of public jubilation and diversion, totally lacking in the theological or liturgical meaning which it was convenient to feign, above all, during the days of the colonial government.” (Pérez I 1988:22)
The main activities were music, dancing and consumption of large quantities of alcoholic beverages (Pérez I 1988:24, note 1).
Now that is my kind of festival!
Did you attend the festival? If so, tell us how it was and what you did there below!