Celebrated annually, the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival attracts visitors, not only from the Caribbean, but also from around the world. Although it is usually celebrated in the month of February, the carnival takes place on the fourth and fifth days of March this year. Port of Spain, the capital of the dual-island nation gets ready to take on one of the biggest celebrations of the year. Get ready to learn all about the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, a celebration full of life, color, music and excitement!
History Behind the Carnival
The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is celebrated every year on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It all started in the 1780’s, when French Catholic planters would host elaborate masquerade balls to celebrate Christmas, and the months after as a “farewell to the flesh” before Lent season. West African slaves had their own celebrations at the same time, which usually involved burning and harvesting sugar cane, as well as using masks and mimicry. This resulted in a heterogeneous mix of different cultural traditions from various ethnic groups to celebrate the same holiday. With the end of slavery in 1834, the free people of the island celebrated emancipation and their native culture through the use of masks, music and dances. That’s how Carnival became the biggest event in Trinidad and Tobago every year.
Competitions and Events
Although there are many celebrations leading up to the carnival, the official carnival celebrations begin early Monday morning with a predawn party of J’Ouvert – which translates to “opening of the day”. Here, attendees wear all sorts of masks and costumes that relate to current events and politics in a satirical way. A queen and a king are chosen in this event based on the best costume. Then the celebrations continue on Carnival Monday with a parade of bands throughout the day and an evening performance competition. Soca music and dancing take over these magical celebrations.
The biggest celebrations, however, begin on Tuesday. There’s a huge parade with revelers dressed up in colorful costumes and different groups of people get dressed up in synchronized themed costumes. Throughout the day, there are awards given for queen and king performers as well as best costumes. These celebrations last all the way until midnight leading up to Ash Wednesday. Throughout the day, you get to see everyone’s high-energy dancing, singing, and smiling – all pretty contagious activities!
Without a doubt, Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is a celebration worth attending. After all, the whole island prepares for it all year long and you can feel the spirit of celebration when you’re there. Plan your visit to one of the biggest events of the Caribbean, and stay at Hilton Trinidad to get the best accommodations in the island.