While we talk most often about Grenada’s Spice Mas Carnival celebrations, there are many other Carnivals that take place across the Caribbean throughout the year. In fact, our Carnival season is about to kick off. Below are highlights from some of our neighboring islands.
Carriacou Carnival (Kayak Mas 2014) is an annual event that is held the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. This year, the dates fall March 1st–March 4th. The lively spirit of Grenada’s sister island of Carriacou can be felt during Carnival; with a parade of the bands, street dances, calypso competitions, and soca, the bright and joyous revelry invites visitors in to celebrate. A variety of cultural events take place leading up to Carnival, with the celebrations culminating in the Parade of the Bands on Monday and Tuesday. Unique to the Carriacou Carnival is the Shakespeare Mas that takes place on Tuesday morning, where men in bright colors engage in a battle of words using Shakespeare’s writings, supplemented with boisterous stick fighting.
Carnival is a major event in nearby Trinidad and Tobago; this year, the event is held March 3rd and 4th. With events similar to those of Grenada’s Carnival, Trinidad’s Carnival is launched at 4 am on Carnival Monday by J’Ouvert, where participants bathed in chocolate, mud, oil, and paint dance and march in the streets depicting devils, demons, monsters, and imps. Carnival Monday plays host to “Pretty Mas”, with thousands of brightly dressed participants dancing and “wining” in the streets to blasting soca music. Carnival Tuesday is when the iconic costumed parade takes place; thousands of masqueraders in full costume march in bands with a specific historical, mythological, or tropical theme. At the end of the parade, the winning bands are announced. Tobago’s Carnival follows a similar schedule, with J’Ouvert marking the beginning of the party and masquerade bands reveling in the streets on Monday and Tuesday.
Held June 27th-July 8th, Vincy Mas is the Carnival celebration of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A celebration of music, color, heritage, and life, events include J’Ouvert, Mardi Gras, Miss Carnival, Panorama, and a Soca Monarch Competition. Of all of Vincy Mas’ events, the Soca Monarch Competition draws the biggest crowds. Pitting soca artists against one another in a battle-of-the-bands atmosphere, competitors use stage craft and humorous antics, along with their up-tempo soca melodies, to get the crowd going and vie for the top prize.
Barbados’ Carnival celebrations (known as “Crop Over”) span from June 28th-August 4th, and originally marked the end of another successful sugar cane harvest. With historical traditions dating back to the late 1700s (when Barbados was the number once sugar producer), today’s events include a Monarchs Concert, Sweet Soca Competitions, Foreday Morning Jam, and wrap up with the Grand Kadooment. Held Monday, August 4th, “Kadooment Day” and the “Last Lap” bring out the best from Barbadian costume designers and bandleaders, with thousands of revelers masquerading in the streets in front of the judges and spectators. If you were to go to only one even during Crop Over, this may be it.
Of course, our personal favorite of all of the Carnivals is Grenada’s Spice Mas. We will go into the details of our celebrations an upcoming blog.