in Trinidad
The Trinidad Carnival is what all others model themselves after.

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Trinidad Carnival

in Trinidad began when early French settlers would march in masked processions from one house to another (thus the local name "Mas"), a custom slaves adopted after emancipation in 1834.

Wary authorities attempted to discourage this new Carnival, but obviously without success.

From the beginning, pounding drums led the Mas processions in Trinidad's Carnival. After World War II, steel bands added a whole new dimension when local musicians discovered they could get as many as 32 different notes from something as ordinary as the top of an oil drum.

Here's the schedule for Trinidad's next carnival.

NEW! Trinidad Carnival photo album.

From such an unlikely beginning, the steel bands formed and the loudly thumping heart of modern day Carnival was born.

Carnival in Trinidad lasts for weeks, but the revelry explodes the weekend just before Lent. This is the time when almost islands held their Carnival but quite a number changed their celebration to spring or summer in order not to conflict with Trinidad's party. They knew they simply not compete.

Besides, many islanders everywhere want to attend Carnival in Trinidad.

Costume and band competitions are capped off by the incredible walk (or shuffle or stagger depending on your condition).

It is the j'ouvert (pronounced "jouvay"), a jump-up or dawn dance that parades through the streets of Port-of-Spain from about 4 a.m. until 10 a.m.

With many thousands of people taking part, j'ouvert is deafening, intoxicating, crushing, unforgettable, a true celebration (and testing) of the senses.

For tourists, it generally is a safer celebration than the only other comparable spectacle, Rio at Carnival time. And it is done with class, not with a lot of barfing and unruly conduct that has come to characterize Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Trinidad's Carnival is family friendly.

Outsiders are invited to party throughout it all. In fact, to be authentic, you can even buy your own Carnival costume at a Mas Camp.

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