The Santiago Carnival is one of the oldest carnivals in Cuba, whose origins can be tracked back to the 17th century. During slavery the Cabildos were allowed to sing, dance and live their costumes and traditions from their origins during 24 hours outside the Churches and the Cathedral of Santiago. From this festivities in which we can find spanish and african elements their are arising the Congas which are characterised for their displacement like the christian processions.
The Spains have introduced the 25th July as a celebration for Saint James the Apostle, and converted it to a 3 day celebration and veneration. The Cumbancheros, mostly blacks and mulattos were allowed to join and due to their exagerated coloured and crazy costumes and dances they were called Mamarrachos. After the slavery the natives took over this tradition and so the Santiago Carnival with its Congas and Troupes, marches music and colours were born.
In 1953 the Carnival was taken as a perfect date to storm the Montcada Cuartel, the second most important military fortress. A group of young Cubans, with Fidel Castro on its head wanted to free Cuba and succeded. Until today the 26th July is the most important national day festivity for all Cubans and a special date inside he Carnival of Santiago.
Until today the Santiago Carnival is a long awaited popular festivity which is starting each summer with the "Invasión", as well seen as the Caterpillar which is turning into a Butterfly in the moment of the real Carnival competition of the Conga and Parades.