In Mindelo the grand parade takes place on Tuesday and takes the form of a competition between the participating groups.

A jury is responsible for noting the individual or collective performances, the decisions are made the next day during a prize-giving ceremony.

For months, the groups have designed and sewn the costumes, hundreds of dancers rehearsed together to learn the choreographies in the evening after work, the designers have built the floats: the parade must be superb and must make an impression.

But if the parade brings together several thousand participants each year, not all have the same role, each of them has a very specific function. There are the anonymous (the majority) and there are the few more prominent characters, those who can improve the final score of their group or hope to obtain an individual reward.

Now let's see in detail how this parade goes and who are the important characters.

Where and when?

There are regular announcements of the construction of a Sambodromo like what is done in Rio de Janeiro: in the meantime, the parade takes place in the historic center of Mindelo - and it's very well like that. The parade starts by the sea at the very bottom of the "rua de Lisboa", at the level of the statue of the bird, it goes up the street to the Palacio, branches off to take the "Avenida Baltasar Lopes da Silva" then takes the narrowest street of the circuit to go down to PraƧa Nova, it goes around it and progresses to Avenida Marginal following post office street ("Correios"), aka the new "rua Pedonal".

Traditionally, the procession started in the early afternoon. But in 2023, the groups asked to start later, so that each of them could be seen at night; all the groups will parade under the same conditions, taking advantage of the lighting which, according to them, embellishes the parade, the costumes and the floats. The appointment is set for 6:30 p.m.

The public

For several years, the organizers have been setting up stands along the route, some of the places are reserved for officials (rua de Lisboa), the rest are sold to the public. The other spectators gather on the sidewalks to try to attend the show, but these free places are quickly worth gold and some "book" them by putting objects on Tuesday morning very early, or even the night before after the Samba Tropical parade.

In this gallery: 8 photos

To our visiting friends: please don't think it's allowed to enter the parade just because you are a tourist and have a camera, nobody will throw you in jail but nobody will understand that you are taking advantage of your status as a foreigner while the local population respects the rules. The organization of the event needs serenity, do not take the risk of creating complications and spoiling the show.

Vanguard Commission

ComissĆ£o de Frente
Each group has its own Vanguard/Front Commission in charge of preceding it with an original performance, for example through spectacular choreography and costumes that aim to leave a strong impression. But some groups prefer to present an artistic performance (theater) or sports (capoeira, acrobats).

In this gallery: 3 photos

Flag-Bearer & Master of Ceremony

Porta-bandeira & Mestre-Sala
The Porta-bandeira has the important mission of proudly presenting the group's flag, she must do it with grace and tons of smiles, going from one side to the other of the public to conquer the most supporters. She is escorted by the Mestre-Sala, generally a very good dancer who also must seduce the spectators. Both are rewarded in the final ranking.

In this gallery: 9 photos

The Wings

The Alas
Within each group, the participants are divided into different small groups which will follow one another, these wings ("Alas") can have from 10 to 200 people, each of them having specific choreography and costumes. The success of the parade is very much due to this variety of styles, dances and themes, there is always something new to watch throughout the four to five hours that the parade lasts.

In this gallery: 3 photos

The Floats

("Carros Alegoricos")
Each group must present two or three floats (depending on the year): over the years, they are transformed into superb and gigantic creations, sometimes so large that the groups have difficulty transporting them to the center of Mindelo, it is then necessary to dismantle traffic signs or bend the branches of trees along the roads. The designers, welders, painters and electricians took turns day and night in the workshops to build these marvels of creativity in keeping with the group's theme, with an infinity of painted or sculpted details designed by the artists. But to have a chance of winning the trophy, you have to not only be creative, you have to move forward at a constant pace, and, above all, start on time!

In this gallery: 5 photos

The Queen and the King

("a Rainha e o Rei")
It is from the top of the most beautiful chariot that the Queen salutes the crowd, and despite the wind and the fatigue she must maintain a regal and joyful posture. Her exceptional costume is scrutinized and analyzed by all the spectators, it took several thousand euros to assemble it, an essential investment for anyone aiming for the title of Carnival Queen.
Same means and same objective for the King, also hoisted on top of a float and dressed in the most beautiful of clothes.

The Drums

Each group is accompanied by a formation of 30 to 50 percussionists who frantically beat the rhythm to support the dancers : even if the groups present each year their original music composed for the occasion (see below), there is no Carnival without these batucadas which precede the vehicle of the singers/singers. Under the control of the drum master, tamborim, snare drum, apito, pandeiro and agogo are used to play these syncopated sambas which ignite the audience. In 2020, the year the trophy was created, all the batteries had obtained the same score, it took a draw to decide the winner.

In this gallery: 3 photos

The Queen of Drums

("Rainha da Bateria")
With her frantic dance steps, she is responsible for motivating her percussionists. Chosen after a competition among the most photogenic of sambistas, she does the show and the public applauded her massively; his role has grown to the point of deserving a specific trophy since the 2015 edition. Over time, following the model of the Rio carnival, we witness a starization of these young girls and the creation of a mini-competition within the competition.

In this gallery: 8 photos

The Passistas or Sambistas

They also make the show, and there again, the public asks for more: in small groups or individually distributed in different alas, these young and beautiful women dance the samba as if their fate depended on it . However, it should be noted that this role can naturally be assumed by young boys.

In this gallery: 7 photos


Every year, each group presents new music corresponding to the theme it has chosen: it publishes it some time before the parade, so that the spectators know it and pick it up as they pass of the parade, an appropriation facilitated by the development of social networks. These songs are sometimes very successful and they quickly enter popular culture. At the end of the Carnival, the composer of the top rated song receives a trophy: very often, he has composed several pieces for several competing groups, the carnivalesque musical genre still attracting few traditional composers.

Animation groups

Informal or declared groups, inspired individuals, they slip into the spaces separating the large groups from the competition: fake celebrities, troupe of mandingas, groups of fake old men, man ostensibly devouring aloe verde or cooking spaghetti, young people dressed in the fashion of the 70s or 80s, men dressed as women or dressed as dirty and screaming babies, carriers of critical posters and satirical messages, there is no limit to the imagination of these partygoers who want participate in the Mardi Gras parade. The most inspired among them are rewarded with the Cacoi prize, named after a former passionate Carnival singer.

In this gallery: 8 photos


Preamble: of course, it is possible (and advisable) to take photos from your seat or on the sidewalks.
That having been said, it's necessary to make the following small point. Everyone naturally wants to keep memories of the event, but faced with the influx of professional or amateur photographers, carnival groups have complained of disrespectful or abusive behavior, the dancers sometimes being blocked or hampered in their progress by too pressing individuals. The organizers therefore decided to allow only a reduced number of photographers to accompany the parade; others may work from spots assigned to them.


For obvious security reasons, the organizers require drone pilots to make themselves known before any shooting; during the last carnivals, to avoid collisions, each pilot was assigned to a specific area of the parade, with the recommendation to make a common image bank with the other pilots. Be sure to follow this instruction, even the lightest of drones can cause irreversible damage in the event of a problem. Thank you.