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A Few Interesting Facts About the Carnival in Trinidad, Cuba
Carnivals are celebrated all over Latin America, and Cuba is no exception. Typically, these colorful and traditional festivities involve parades, costumes, games, street bands, floats, and a local Carnival queen.
Trinidad, located in the center of Cuba, has a Carnival that meets that description, plus one significant difference: horseback riders dressed in cowboy gear gallop wildly down the 500-year-old town’s cobblestone streets.
The spectacle gives Trinidad the feel of a town in the Old American West. For most of the celebration, you will be able to see elaborate floats, street bands called comparsa, and a queen and her court make several appearances. Here’s a glimpse of a Trinidadian comparsa warming up:
The Carnival also features horses, but no racing is involved. Instead, young people decked out in fine Western garb, and some fueled by rum, make a spectacle in the middle of the streets.
Visitors are advised to watch from a distance, as more than one rider has ended up on the sidewalk during the hours-long display. Such was the case last June.
Late one afternoon, a powerful thunderstorm rolled in. The storm only stopped the horse display momentarily. After some riders abruptly halted their horses, they slid across the rain-slickened streets, toppling on their sides. The riders found it funny, laughing as they got back on their horses to continue riding.
“These young people are a bit crazy,” said Emeterio Escalante, a 71-year-old street musician. “They don’t seem to realize they could get badly hurt or injured with the horses.”
But Lorenzo Cardenas, 17, dismissed such concerns. “This is Carnival, a time to let loose,” he said. “People abroad don’t think we celebrate like this in Cuba. Horse culture in the countryside is part of who we are. Cowboys don’t only exist in films.” The young men and women weren’t always riding at full gallop. Sometimes they were parading slowly showing off their horses.
Also known as Fiestas Sanjuaneras, Trinidad’s Carnival began on June 21, 1838, as a masquerade ball to benefit local charities. Over the years, the festivities featured masked balls, dances, and performances. Wars and civil strife force the cancellation of some Carnivals, but tradition has kept them alive and vibrant.
Victory Cruise Lines is your first choice for immersive and all-inclusive coastal cruising. Our Cuban shore excursions are led by knowledgeable local guides and provide meaningful opportunities to uncover the rich history and fascinating cultures. We go all out to give you the opportunity to see and experience Cuba, at a pace that suits your needs and tastes. For more, visit victorycruiselines.com or give us a call at 1-888 -907-2636.