Where night turns into day
First of all: When you are in the rural areas, don’t count on finding a nightly entertainment programme after 10 p.m. But if you are fortunate, the villagers may be in the mood to celebrate. There is generally more offered during the peak season than in the off season. The peak season is at Christmas, New Year and in the summer months. There is also usually a lot of activity during the island or village festivals and the holidays.
When it comes to nightlife, we also suggest concentrating on the larger cities: These are Santa Maria on the island of Sal, Mindelo on São Vicente, Praia on Santiago and Sal Rei and Esplanada on Boa Vista.
You will find bars and some classic discos here. Above all, the latter include the Disco Pirata at the entrance to the town. A visit to a restaurant when local musicians are performing is recommended for music fans. A popular diversion for Cape Verdeans and travelers is the Beach Festival of Santa Maria, which takes place on a regular basis in September. Mainly contemporary Cape Verdean music on the zouk is performed here.
In addition, the larger hotels offer music and dance events. However, these tend to have a tourist-animating character. The hotel discos, which are usually situated somewhat outside the city, are also frequented by the locals. Otherwise, new locations are currently being opened here and there.
Mindelo was once the best city when it came to strolling around the neighbourhood at night. The evening events are now primarily concentrated on the weekends. Yet, the traditional morna can still be heard in some of the bars. A good place to start would be Rua Lisboa, where the many small cafés are inviting at the beginning of the evening. Then take a walk along the Praça Amílcar Cabral, which is also called Praça Nova. This is the meeting place for the people who want to be seen (it also has many cafés such as the Caf´del Mar with its foreign newspapers, Casa Café Mindelo, etc.). Afterwards, we recommend that you enjoy live music at the many bars and restaurants in the town centre. Pay attention to the current event announcements, which can be found on the flyers that are usually distributed at hotels and guesthouses. Some of the larger discos, at which there is always a big crowd on the weekend, are the Astro, Disco Galaxe or Hi Step, the Cave or Complexo Fantastique.
If you visit during carnival time, an impressive experience awaits you: This is when the people dance and celebrate day and night.
The Baía das Gatas Music Festival with local and international bands, which is also worth seeing, takes place in August of each year at the beach.
When it comes to popularity, Praia is the leader for Cape Verdean nightlife. The culmination is certainly Santiago’s biggest music festival, the Festival Praia da Gamboa. It takes place every year in May on the beach of the same name. Modern music from Cape Verde, Africa and Brazil is in the foreground here.
You can also count on lots of great deal of music and the Cape Verdean dancing mania at the many bars and discos. Here are just a few of them: The Tabu bar close to the harbour has an open-air disco. The Zero Horas in the direction of the airport also has a dance area under the open sky. The Quebra Coco is located below the well-known Praia Mar Restaurant. You can also shake a leg at Dolce Vita in the quarter of Achada de Santo António, which is directly on the ocean and obviously open air.
Musical performances are often organised on Boa Vista especially for tourists. Because it is less tourist-oriented, we tend to recommend the Cabana Bar in Sal Rei, the Discotheca Meio da Arreia on the street from Sal Rei in the direction of the airport and the Pizzeria 5 de Julho in Esplanada at the old harbour where you can find live music several times each week.
On Fogo, the Tropical Club Bar with cocktails and/or the Fogo en Chama Bar with live music on the weekends are a must.
The Disco Kananga in Vila Nova Sintra, which opens its doors on Friday and Saturday night, is on Brava.
There are two night spots on Santo Antão. In Ponta do Sol, visit the local disco. The S´Rrenegra Disco is recommended in Ribeira Grande.
Except for the island festival (6 December) and during carnival, the nightlife is somewhat sparse here. But the carnival has the reputation of being second only to Mindelo in terms of its beauty: three days of colourful parades and parties in Vila da Ribeira Brava.