For the modest price of around €18, depending on the point of departure, Granada-based tour operator Emycet is offering an express, 19-hour trip to celebrate Cádiz’s Carnival on Saturday, February 14. The offer includes return journey from different points throughout Andalusia to the Atlantic port city, a bus tour, breakfast, a light lunch – and alcohol and condoms. The package deal, which has been widely commented upon in the social networks, has also prompted criticism in some quarters for portraying Cádiz’s internationally famous Mardi Gras celebrations as little more than a low-cost bacchanalia.
We cannot interfere with private enterprise, and the city is an open space” Cádiz Popular Party Mayor Teófila Martínez
The regional government of Andalusia, which is controlled by the Socialist Party, says the initiative projects the wrong image of Cádiz.
“It cheapens the Carnival as a quality destination and something that generates wealth,” adds Antonio de María Ceballos, the head of the city’s hotel owners association. “This is not the face of the city that we want to show the world. The Carnival is a cultural phenomenon and should not be based on preconceived ideas that visitors come here with just one thing in mind.”
But Teófila Martínez, Cádiz’s Popular Party mayor, defends the offer, saying: “We cannot interfere with private enterprise, and the city is an open space. Every year, thousands of people come here and enjoy themselves peacefully.”
This is not the first time that Emycet has organized Cádiz Carnival trips. As a result it stands accused of contributing to the decline of the event: in recent years, the city’s streets have been taken over by hordes of drunken revelers during the first Saturday night of the festivities, with many local people preferring to stay in.
This year, in a bid to pre-empt problems, Cádiz City Hall has organized the numerous singing competitions and other activities, including the election of the Carnival Queen, to take place on February 12 and February 13. The Carnival will be declared officially open on Saturday February 14 at 10pm with a concert in the city’s central San Antonio square by singer Merche.
The 10-day festivities will end on the night of February 22 with the traditional fireworks display and bonfire on La Caleta beach.