It started as an event for the nobility in northern Sardinia but later became a popular festival.
The Cavalcata Sarda came into being as a homage to the island’s rulers, but it soon took on a deeper meaning. Today it is a testimony of the pride of the Sardinian people, who for two days set Sassari alight, parading on foot and on horseback, decked in traditional costumes. Its magic remains unchanged – the streets echo with timeless melodies, paraders and spectators mingle in a living museum of men and women proudly wearing their traditional colourful costumes and head-dresses, unchanged over the centuries.
The rhythmic chants of the ‘a tenore’ singers alternate with the beat of the horses’ hooves. Their trot soon explodes into daredevil races. The horsemen from Sedilo and the Sartiglia riders from Oristano gallop at breakneck speed. The mysterious ancient masks of the Mamuthones of Mamoiada and the Boes and Merdules of Ottana, with their roots in the pre-Christian era, draw gazes and much camera snapping.
The first Cavalcata dates back to 1711 when the City authorities of Sassari decided to pay homage to Phillip V, King of Spain.
The one repeated each year to this day started in 1899, at the time of the visit of King Umberto I and Margherita of Savoy. On that occasion, 3,000 persons participated in the Cavalcata, all from the Province of Sassari. In the past few years the main procession alone has numbered 3,000 participants, and the two-day festival draws tens of thousands of spectators.