Experiencing Carnival in Grenada-also known as “Spice Mas”-is an exciting, unique experience that will leave you feeling like a true islander. This multi-day celebration of island culture and tradition features many events, giving visitors the chance to pick and choose their favorites to attend. While the 2-day event officially kicks off on August 12th, it can be worth it to get to the island early to take part in some of the other fun festivities leading up to Spice Mas.
After months of preparation, there are many events to attend at the National Stadium in the days leading up to the big celebrations. On August 8th, there is the National Queen show, where young women from Grenada compete for the title of Carnival Queen in categories including cultural performance, costume, and evening gown. August 9th and 10th showcase the sounds of the island; the 9th is the SMC/LIME Soca Monarch Competition, and the 10th is the Panorama Night of Pan and Soca, paired with a Steel Band Competition. The pre-Carnival festivities are topped off on the 11th is Dimanche Gras, the final event leading into Carnival. After four days of music and competition, the party is really ready to get started with the three main events of Spice Mas.
The official kick-off to Spice Mas, J’Ouvert begins in the wee hours of the morning of August, May 12th. The hours before sunrise is the time that the devils of the night come out to play; street theater-in-motion, J’Ouvert combines Grenadian, African, European history and expresses it through dance, masks, costumes, and chants. The Jab Jab dancers take either the traditional costume of being painted in molasses, motor oil, grease creosote or mud, or the modern one of being coated in bright colors of purple, yellow, blue, or red. The dancers wear horned helmets and make their way through the streets dancing to the Ole Mas band’s music, spreading their colors onto bystanders as they go.
Insider tip: When attending J’Ouvert, wear clothing that you don’t mind getting ruined. The colors and oil of the dancers are hard to wash out after you receive a friendly hug.
Once the sun comes up on Monday it is time for Pageant Mas, also known as “Fancy Mas”. Each Parish has its own style of traditional Mas including Short Knees, Vekou, and Wild Indians. The most prevalent style band of the three, the costumes of Short Knees are armored with tiny mirrors to reflect enemies, and they wear ankle bells to make music. Wearing knee-length pants, Arab-like head coverings, batwing sleeves and jumbo collars, the Short Knees carry talc powder as a symbol of appreciation, sprinkling it on those who do not make cash donations. The nearly-identical dancers make their way from their own parishes down to St. George’s, dancing and leaving a trail of powder in their wake.
Following the traditional Mas bands come the modern parade of costumed bands, dressed in dazzlingly glitzy costume as they march across the stage of the National Stadium and down the streets of St. George’s. Dancing to popular calypso music, participants sway and shake to the beat.
Insider tip: Keep your ears open for the same song to be replayed throughout the day. This is the basis for the Annual Road March King Competition.
Monday Night Mas
The parades turn into a party during the Street Jump-Up of Monday Night Mas, during which limers (partiers) mingle in brightly colored clothing, waving glowsticks and dancing through the streets.
Insider tip: Have a great time and enjoy yourself, but allow yourself enough rest Monday night to get up and do it again on Tuesday!
After a long day (and night) of celebrating, Tuesday’s festivities start much later in the day to give participants a chance to recover. Tuesday’s Mas includes the parade of bands through the streets of St. George’s, followed by one last jump-up with street bands to cap off the event.
Insider tip: Don’t forget your sunscreen! Many stores are closed for the Spice Mas celebrations, and we’d hate for you to get a burn!
The helpful staff at Laluna Resort will be happy to assist in arranging transportation to and from Spice Mas celebrations, as well as tell you the best places to be during each event. Following the revelry of Spice Mas, we recommend detoxifying with a yoga session, massage, and long nap in your suite’s luxurious king sized bed.