Trinidad and Tobago Carnival
||Nothing on earth can rival the explosion of colour, music, revelry, and creativity
that is Trinidad's Carnival! The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is the event of the year and is
celebrated two days before Ash Wednesday which signifies the beginning of the season of Lent. In
2009 the Carnival season climaxed on Monday, February 23 and Tuesday, February 2 and in 2010 the
carnival will take place on February 15th and 16th. Although the Carnival officially occurs
on the Monday and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday, the celebrations start from Boxing Day and
signals non-stop partying until Carnival Sunday. During this post Christmas period calypso tents
open their doors to the public and cultural shows, there are massive Soca concerts, masquerade
bands launch their new themes and radio stations start playing the latest Soca hits. The
preliminary Panorama contests are also held which is a contest for competing steel bands in front
of judges and massive crowds.
Trinidad and Tobago was originally a
representation of French Catholic carnival celebrations, where masks were donned and social visits
ensued and was mimicked by African slaves who added their own rituals and folklore to the
festivities. Between Christmas and the start of Lent signaled a time for feasting, fancy dress
balls and celebration for both the French and British but as more new immigrant populations entered
Trinidad, the festival began to take on a new shape and has expanded into the Carnival that it is
The J'Ouvert kicks
off the celebrations on Carnival Monday with massive costumed bands, fuelled by the energetic
rhythms of Soca music blaring from speakers piled on music trucks, taking to the street jumping
up and wining. The streets begin to rock from as early as 4am, under the cloak of darkness,
as the people celebrate the island’s folklore and history. The J’Ouvert is almost ritualistic in
its celebration as the revelers bathed themselves in mud, oil and paint all while depicting devils,
monster and demons. As exciting and wild Carnival Monday may seem this is only a warm-up for the
madness which is Carnival Tuesday.
Thousands of masqueraders, dressed in full
costume, impatiently wait for the 8 am start of carnival Tuesday. Broadcasted live on television,
bands parade in the streets with Soca blasting from the speakers mounted on the trucks with the
intent of receiving as much prizes as possible and crowned the Masquerade Band of the Year.
Each band showcases its own historical, mythological or tropical concept with various sections
depicting aspects of the main theme. The bands are divided into small, medium and large categories and judged and
the winning bands are announced after all the bands finish parading in-front of the judges.