13 November 2019
Carnival is celebrated across the Caribbean right through British wintertime until the culmination on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). The concept was brought to the Caribbean by European Colonialists but following the abolition of slavery the Islands have taken ownership of the celebrations and grown them into a truly extraordinary experience of dancing, music and dazzling costumes.
Attending a Caribbean carnival should be on everyone’s to-do-list and we’ve helped you to pick out which one is right for you.
Kicking off the carnival season is Junkanoo in the Bahamas. This four-day whirlwind of colours begins on Boxing Day in Nassau with a huge street celebration and then the festivities continue until its culmination in another massive street party on new years day.
Junkanoo is a celebration of all things Bahamian and is great opportunity for tourists to get immersed in the local culture as they celebrate the island’s heritage. During Junkanoo there is a 3-night music festival called Junk Mania which showcases the island’s music and dance scene.
Junkanoo groups participate in the carnival as dancers, musicians and costume designers, and are judged throughout to earn prizes and the honour of being crowned best Junkanoo group. A lot of work goes into the parade, with many spending months coordinating their team effort in preparation for the big event.
"Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas, is a bustling metropolitan hub full of culture and modern amenities."
Lee, Travel Counsellor
The Carnival season in St Kitts is a long affair that begins as far back as 22nd November and stretches into the new year. During this time the streets of St Kitts intermittently overflow with a rainbow of colours and calypso music fills the air with an enchanting rhythm, as a series of fetes are held across the island.
On New Year’s day a parade of colourful feathered dancers moves through the capital, and folklore groups beguile the crowd with traditional carnival characters such as clowns and Moko jumbies which dance fearlessly on their stilts. Alongside the fun of the carnival is the intensely contested calypso competition, the winner of which will be crowned calypso king or queen by the Prime Minister.
The carnival in Puerto Rico is held each year in the sun-drenched capital city of Ponce on the Island’s south coast. The highlight of the festivities is the Sunday when a parade of costume clad revellers dances its way through the city streets in a vibrant array of costumes. However, the Carnival draws to a close two days later on Fat Tuesday with the funeral and burial of the mock sardine.
The stars of the show at the Ponce carnival are the fan-favourites, the Vejigantes. These brightly dressed devils are renowned across the island and if you’ve been lucky enough to visit, chances are you’ll have seen one. The Vejigantes are figures in Puerto Rican folklore and come as a result of the amalgamation of Spanish and African cultures on the island. People now dress up as these characters by wearing papier-mache masks complete with horns and fangs, flowing capes, and carrying dried cow bladders, and parade through the streets interacting with spectators as they go.
The original, and some would say the best, Caribbean carnival – Trinidad’s Carnival is a roaring feast for the senses. Enticing millions of visitors every year, the carnival takes place on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and features a massive parade, with singers, dancers and musicians all adding their ingredients to create one of the greatest parties on earth.
Carnival begins in the early hours of the Monday morning when a parade of partiers takes to the streets adorned with feathers, jewels, crowns and all manner of extravagant garments. The festivities then continue through to Tuesday to the sound of steel drums and Soca music during which time the streets are ablaze with a stunning display of vibrant colours and breathtaking floats.
In Trinidad, visitors are openly invited to join in the fun and get involved so plan in advance, get your costume arranged and be ready to be swept away in the excitement.
Carnival in the Dominican Republic is a place where people of all ages and from all walks of life can come together to celebrate their culture and identity. La Vega carnival is the most popular of the events and is held each Sunday in February.
While La Vega Carnival holds the usual hallmarks of a classic Caribbean Carnival: outlandish outfits, rhythmic music, untamed dancing and buckets full of fun, it may not be one for the faint hearted thanks to the inclusion of “El Diablo Cojuelo”. These grotesque characters wear colourful cloaks and large horned masks covered in mirrors, and parade through the streets whipping onlookers and ringing rattles and cowbells
Contact your Travel Counsellor today to arrange your Caribbean Carnival escape and take advantage of a range of benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your trip.