Carnival in St. Maarten/St. Martin
|Conveniently located at the end of April, after hotel prices drop dramatically.|
Carnival is a West Indies version of a boisterous, progressive block party where everyone--regardless of address--mixes freely and openly.
For visitors, no costume is required, just the intent to come and have a good time and enjoy as the islanders display their most elaborate and creative fashions and exuberant musical talents.
Although Trinidad's annual pre-Lenten bash is the Caribbean 's largest and best known carnival, the 2-week celebration on St. Maarten is steadily growing in popularity.
St. Maarten's festivities are particularly attractive because they're celebrated at the end of April, immediately after hotel rates dramatically drop by 30% to 50% from their winter season highs.
Not only are the hotels considerably less expensive during St. Maarten's carnival, the weather normally is postcard clear since it's still in advance of the rainy season.
Timing Carnival immediately after the price decrease would actually be a great marketing ploy, St. Maarten is actually marking the anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands which falls on April 30.
St. Maarten's capital city of Philipsburg hosts many events at the Carnival Village, a giant rectangular shaped enclosure with a permanent performing stage.
Carnival Village is reminiscent of an old county fair with unmistakable island flair as barkers with West Indian accents attempt to lure passersby into games of chance while scores sellers in small food booths offer such local delicacies as "pastechis," spicy meat turnovers; "sates," skewers of goat or pork with peanut sauce; and chicken barbecued over open flame pits.
Some locals and visitors come to enjoy just this aspect of the carnival atmosphere. Most stay for the nightly program which includes beauty pageants, calypso presentations and band competitions.
Activities run on Caribbean time, tending to start late and run over, though no one seems to care much. The island attitude seems to be: Why strait-jacket the period when the fun is supposed to begin and end? Let it happen anytime.
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