St. Maarten Carnival - Part 2

Find out if your hotel offers a shade tent during the mid-afternoon grand parade.

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St. Maarten Carnival & J'Ouvert

It does take a constitution of steel to bear through all 2 weeks of the full St. Maarten Carnival, and few visitors try.

Most visitors concentrate on attending several of the more important events held at the end of second week. One is the J'ouvert (break-of-dawn) jump-up parade that begins as early as 4 a.m. through downtown Philipsburg. It's held each April 29, be it a weekday or a workday.

The afternoon of April 30th hosts the event's greatest parade, the Grand Carnival Parade of floats, groups and individuals which winds from the Carnival Village to the center of town on Front Street.

Steel bands and groups wear themed costumes emblematic of their own organization. Paradsters dress as everything from buccaneers to butterflies to outer space aliens. It's a wonderfully bright and loud pageant as they all dance by spectators lining the main streets.

Parade participants are more than happy to break their stride for a photograph. After all, some of them have been planning and designing their costumes for a year, and this is the one glorious moment to show them off to the world.

While this is a wonderful photographic opportunity in bright light, it could also turn into a long and sun-drenched 3-hour ordeal waiting for the parade to begin and pass.

Consequently, some hotels will supply a large shade tent along a key section of the parade route for their guests. A neat idea.

About 4 days after this parade of parades, carnival closes with the symbolic burning of King MouMou, a straw-stuffed effigy who annually presides over the whole raucous affair.

Then St. Maarten resumes its tranquil normalcy ...until the next year's Carnival.

Carnival in St. Maarten Part 1

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