Whine It Gal: 8 Caribbean Carnivals and Festivals You Can Still Make It To This Year
Whether you're ready to party this year or planning for next, this is the guide you need in your life.
Notting Hill CarnivalTia Simon-Campbell
Bacchanal Jamaica (Jamaica Carnival), Jamaica The electricity of Bacchanal is like none other. As one of the biggest cultural celebrations of Jamaica, the period features a number of high-energy, fun filled events, from beach parties to breakfast fetes, weekly mas camps to jouvert and finally colorful street parades of costumed revelers and pulsating music. The series kicked off on January 2 and culminates with the usual Road March on April 23. Some of the highlights of the season include: Beach Jouvert (April 15th), Reveller’s Fete (April 19th) and Bacchanal Jouvert & Road March (April 21st).
Cayman Carnival Batabano, Cayman Islands Known for having some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands celebrates its culture and heritage each year with Batabano. The Cayman Islands’ National Carnival, which launched in 1983, has since been held annually every May. The weekend-long event begins Saturday, May 6, 2017 with the Cayman adult parade beginning on the world-famous Seven Mile Beach and concluding at Harbour Drive. If you’re new to Batabano and don’t know what to do, just “jump” – as Caymanians say – down the Streets of Grand Cayman in a spectacular arrangement of neon costumes and joyful Soca music. The parade continues with a street party featuring music by local artists and visiting bands.
Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, Bahamas They say “it’s better in the Bahamas” and they are absolutely right. New to the carnival family tradition, Bahamas’ Junkanoo Carnival has increasingly grown as one of the biggest fetes in the Caribbean. And the best part about it? It incorporates its Junkanoo culture, which is unique to just the culture of the Bahamas. The perfect dose of culture can be found in Da Cultural Village, which is the epicenter of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival weekend. It is here that the best in Bahamian culture is put on display for the world to experience. The Grand Bahama Carnival Kick Off will take place on April 14-15, 2017 at Taino Beach, Grand Bahama, and the main event for May 4-6, 2017 at Da Cultural Village in Nassau.
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Vincy Mas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Not familiar with Vincy Mas? Well, it’s time to get familiar. St. Vincent’s Carnival kicks off with an official launch in May, with carnival celebrations stretch all the way through to July. A mix between J’Ouvert and Mardi Gras, there is something for every party-goer at Vincy Mas. In addition to the street parties, there’s also a wide range of events that are family friendly, such as the Miss SVG competition, the Soca Monarch Competition, Miss Carival, the Junior Pan Fest and so much more. Band of The Year is a much sought after prize by those competing and partying during the Mardi Gras Parade of Bands, a fabulously colorful bonanza of costumes, music and dance.
Bermuda Heroes Weekend, Bermuda If you weren’t already sold by the pink-sand beaches of Bermuda, than you have one more reason to plan your visit this summer. One of the island’s biggest summer celebrations, Bermuda Heroes Weekend (6/16-6/19) is a Carnival-style lineup that includes Friday’s opening night extravaganza on Front Street, the all-night J’Ouvert Celebration, Raft Up, the Parade of Bands, Promoters Day events and Race Day Raft Up on Monday, National Heroes Day. The beautiful part about Bermuda Heroes Weekend is that it is a party with a purpose. The celebration is all about Bermudian heroes – those who are “admired and acknowledged for their courage, outstanding achievements and noble qualities.”
Caribana, Toronto, Canada What has long been known as Caribana, is now referred to as the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival. At the center of Toronto’s melting pot, Caribbean descendants and enthusiasts hits the streets and stages for what’s known as one of the biggest island-style celebrations in North America. This summer will mark the 47th year of the festival which features events that celebrate the music, cuisine and arts of the Caribbean region. Some of the highlights include the Caribana Grand Parade, Annual Gala and the tent villages. Known for drawing close to a million spectators in past years, the Caribbean Carnival is the largest cultural festival of its kind in North America.
Crop Over, Barbados Rihanna isn’t the only good thing to come out of Barbados. Its signature Crop Over Festival has made its mark on the Caribbean, and some say, even rivals that of the legendary Trinidad Carnival. The festival, which ends with the spectacular Carnival/Kadooment Parade, is the season used to celebrate the ending of the local Sugar Cane harvest. This in itself makes it distinctly unique from the Carnival festivities in other Caribbean countries. Additionally, local cultural characters mix with modern additions to give this festival a character unlike any other. While you may love to party and “jump the line,” Crop Over gives you the opportunity to learn all aspects of Barbadian culture. A mixture of African survival heritage and Western modern culture is displayed through exhibitions of art, craft, music, and dance. Barbados’ Crop Over events are varied with plenty of things to do for everyone’s taste.
Spice Mas, Grenada If you haven’t been to Grenada, you need to add it to your list… and soon. Affectionately known as the “Spice Island,” it’s only right that their annual carnival would be known as “Spice Mas.” The most anticipated event of the year for locals and tourists alike, Spice Mas transforms the island of Grenada into a celebration like none other. Jab Jabs, which are unique to Grenadian culture, walk and dance through the streets wearing a horned headpiece covered in black oil to mark the celebration of Spice Mas. This masquerade takes place early Monday morning and goes through to Monday Night Mas where party goers in bright t-shirts wave light sticks and dance through the streets well into the night. The week climaxes with parades of the explosively colorful mas bands, calypso and soca competitions along with a frenzy of steel pan music. Want to feel the energy of Grenadian culture? At Spice Mas you’ll feel it running through your veins.