The history of the Carnaval de Granville is linked to the town’s maritime history, and more specifically to the history of cod fishing, which was the port’s main activity from the 16th century until the early 20th century.
In 1872, a major festival was held in honor of the Terre-neuvas, the fishermen who spent long months each year, far from their families, fishing for cod on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, off the coast of Canada. These expeditions were long and sometimes perilous.
Carnival then consisted, at that time, for all these seafarers and their relatives, in preparing the departure to the Banks by allowing them to make provision of merriment and refrains. The Terre-neuvas departures took place around Mardi Gras. Carnival was therefore their last celebration on land before setting sail.
The first edition of the carnival – with organizing committee – takes place on February 7, 1875.
The carnival is, moreover, part of the tradition of charity festivals: among the floats making up the cavalcade, a char de la charité collects funds for aid to the poorest. And indeed, this tradition appears even before the creation of Carnival as such, for as early as 1867, a grande cavalcade for Mi-Carême is organized in Granville for the benefit of the most destitute.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the program of carnival parades that we still know today is established. In 1902, comités de quartiers were created to better structure the parade, and in 1903, the comité organisateur decided that the carnival parade would henceforth take place on Sundays. The chariot builders from Granville’s four districts (Haute-Ville, Rue Lecampion, Rue du Pont and Calvaire), individuals and bands taking part in the parade then passed through the whole town, including Haute-Ville.