Carnival celebrations in Santiago de Cuba transform large swaths of the city for an anticipated week of festivities, during which Afro-Cuban dancers and musicians are center stage, performing a complicated statement of prescribed cultural ideology, historic acts of agency, and nationalism. A particularly revealing celebration, carnival can be understood as a publicly performed conversation between individuals and the real and imagined societal structures encountered in daily life. This government-sponsored presentation in Santiago de Cuba privileges particular expressions and behaviors while heavily restricting others. An exploration of carnival celebration sites during the summer of 2016 reveal particular organizational elements which impacted the participation and presentation of carnival celebrations. Noting a distinct absence of public participation and carnivalesque spirit within the official carnival parade space, ancillary celebrations reveal a curious dedication to preserving both under less strictly monitored conditions. This thesis explores the official and ancillary carnival celebrations, while identifying organizational and ideological forces impacting carnival celebrations in Santiago. Using academic research, participant observation, and interviews with various stake-holders, these particular divisions are explored and influencing factors identified.