When is Carnival?

Some islands hold two big bashes

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When is Carnival?

Some of the biggest Carnivals are before Lent. Alphabetically and not according to size are Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, St. Bart's, St. Martin and Trinidad.   

Waiting until July and early August are the BVIs, St. Lucia, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Eustatius, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tobago.

For a list of Caribbean Carnivals with links to their web sites, log on to www.tntisland.com/other-carnivals.html . (They're the biggest, so they can afford to be generous.)

See Trinidad Carnival Photo Gallery and

Bahamas Junkanoo Photos.

Here are some samples of the major Carnivals, including islands not listed above.


Without question, Trinidad hosts the Caribbean 's biggest and most colorful bash. It's also probably the best organized and most spectator friendly. You can even buy you're own costume and take part in the parade.

Overall, you'll hear better music here, particularly steel band, than anywhere else. The massive parade takes a full day to pass through Queen's Park Savannah and the review stands there. Lasting for almost two weeks, the main events occur just two days before Ash Wednesday.

The costumes (like the women) are sometimes

exotic but always tasteful. This is a very family-friendly affair, not like the beer belching and retching of New Orleans' Mardi Gras.

Trinidad is still classy.


Also held before Lent, I prefer the children's Carnival over the adults that's held the same day. The kid's Carnival is during the afternoon when you can easily see everything. As a photographer, night Carnivals don't thrill me. Not only is the lighting poor, they can drink, I can't.

Dominican Republic

Most large towns hold their own Carnival on a weekend in February or March. Many costumes feature papier-mache devil masks with many horns and teeth and grotesque human expressions. Silk capes, matching jerkins and pantaloons are round out the devil motif. The most colorful parades are in Santiago and La Vega.

St. Maarten

This 2-week celebration on the Dutch side at the end of April marks the anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, which falls on April 30. The parade is usually held in the afternoon. This Carnival is a bargain since it's held after high-season hotel prices have dropped.
Read details about St. Maarten's Carnival.


It's called Crop Over here, dating to the 1780s when Barbados was the world's largest sugar producer. The celebration honors the harvest, the time when the crop was over. The festival, lasting for 5 weeks, presents the harvest's last sugarcanes to the King and Queen, the best male and female cane cutters. The carnival parade, or Grand Kadooment, is set to calypso music. Calypso bands vie for various titles including the ingeniously named Pic-O-De-Crop.


Begun in 1954 as the August Festival, the name was changed to the Emancipation Festival to celebrate the freeing of slaves on August 1, 1834. Although held for many days, the most important period centers on August Monday, the closest to August 1st.

The day before Monday's big parade, a religious service features a short historical overview and drama, reenactment of the singing and a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by the governor or government minister at the Sunday Well, where it was originally proclaimed. J'ouvert is held Monday morning, followed by the mid-afternoon parade.


Called Junkanoo, the big parade is held in two phases, the day after Christmas (Boxing Day) and January 1. Music is supplied by cow- and goatskin drums, cowbells and whistles. The instruments may be basic but the sound is overwhelming. Costumes have graduated from such common items as palm leaves and newspapers to ones that equal those of any island anywhere.

There's a Carnival to celebrate everyone's schedule and tastes.

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