Party on: Caribbean carnival countdown
Published in LIME magazine, By Sarah Sekula
The best thing about the Caribbean is there’s always a carnival happening somewhere. Here’s a look at the 2011 carnival events. From the wild Grand Kadooment of Barbados to the boat races in Anguilla, you have plenty of choices for limin’ away with friends from dawn to dusk and dusk to dawn. In fact, you could virtually party all year long.
Which world-famous festival is right for you? Well, that depends on your mood. Are you looking for soca music or rootsy reggae? Spicy stewed fish or conch fritters?
Luckily, here in the Caribbean, the hunt for a good tropical party isn’t a difficult one. Take your pick, or go island hopping and choose several. Your toughest decision will be what to wear. A purple-feathered headpiece? Silver body glitter? Just look your best, and let the wining begin.
Dominica’s Carnival “The Real Mas” (March 7-8)
In March, the “Nature Island” celebrates its rich heritage and culture during “The Real Mas.” Many dressed in the traditional sen-say costume, an ensemble of West African origin made from dried banana leaves, to enjoy the lively parades, folklore and street activities. The blend of African, European and regional influences combined with a riotous display of pageantry made for a jubilant time. This might be the most fun you could possibly cram into two days.
Jamaica (February 18-May 1)
Jamaica is always a festive place, of course, but carnival season turns the energy — and music — way up. Every year, there’s an explosion of colours, culture, creativity, dance and art that lifts spirits like no other event. And 2011 will be no exception.
Cayman Carnival Batabano(March)
The massive parade that kicks off this annual festival truly represents the melting pot of cultures on the island. Batabano, which refers to the tracks left in the sand by turtles as they head to the beach to nest, brings residents and visitors together with the electrifying energy of soca, calypso and steel drums. If you’re into bar hopping, boat cruising and scavenger hunts, then this carnival celebration is perfect for you.
St. Lucia Carnival May/July
During St. Lucia’s most extravagant event of the year, the streets of Castries are packed. Partygoers take to the streets to dance to the latest soca and calypso hits. The two main parade days at the end of the festival are a perfect closing. Throngs of spectators flock to the parade route to watch the bands play legendary carnival music and strive for the coveted title of “Band of the Year.”
St. Vincent & The Grenadines Vincy Mas (June/July)
Vincy Mas has taken many different forms over the years, but today it’s a 12-day street party peppered with plenty of homemade costumes, dazzling colours, junior carnival activities and the Miss Carnival competition.
Crop Over, Grand Kadooment Some say the Grand Kadooment is the most outrageous day of the year in Barbados. Few would disagree. A quarter-million Bajans celebrate during the five-week gathering. Islanders celebrate their culture with calypso rap, pumping bass lines and catchy lyrics.
Grenada Carnival (July/August)
Experience the power of culture and the spirit of fun. Grenada’s carnival is always a crowd-pleaser. It’s a music-filled celebration that anyone can appreciate. During the island’s biggest party, you’ll find street theatre, masqueraders and a wild parade of the bands through the streets of St. George’s. An unforgettable time.
BVI Carnival (July/August)
Don’t expect to find any rest in BVI during carnival. Do expect a sensory overload of intoxicating joy. Prior to the main event, there are preliminary rounds of the steel bands and calypso competitions. On the weekend before the parades, there are the king and queen finals. By Monday morning, the streets are full. Good times will be had.
Antigua’s Carnival (July/August)
Come July, it’s Antigua’s turn to jump up. The spectacular event, which began more than 50 years ago, is sure to please with its parade of energetic bands, Miss Antigua Pageant and the Caribbean Queen competition. You’ll see glamorous costumes galore. Better yet, the food selection seems endless.
Turks & Caicos Music and Cultural Festival (July/August)
This is no ordinary festival. Steeped in history and tradition, this gala is the most important annual event on the island. It’s merrymaking to the highest degree.
Anguilla Summer Festival (July/August)
Colour and creativity collide in Anguilla during this 11-day event packed with boat racing, bands and, of course, elaborate costumes. The competitions, including the popular Miss Anguilla contest, are always a sight to see, too.
St. Kitts & Nevis (December 18/January)
St. Kitts & Nevis National Carnival Carnival in St. Kitts make Christmas twice as lovely. Parades, inexorable music and dancing can be found at the capital of Besseterre. Don’t miss the opening gala, the crowning of the King and Queen of the festival, J’ouvert, a New Year’s Day Parade and the carnival’s “Las’ Lap.” It’s one great excuse to party.
Montserrat Festival (December/January)
Prepare for fun as Montserrat plays steel band and calypso music in the streets. The happenings include calypso competitions, the festival queen competition, beauty and talent shows and the parade of troupes on New Year’s Day.