Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth
It’s Carnival time again in Trinidad and Tobago and the festive twin-island nation will be buzzing with a calendar full of exciting events, traditional culture and stunning spectacle.
Culminating in a colourful street parade of costumed bands on February 15 and 16, 2010, Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival season will be officially launched by the National Carnival Commission on January 14, with an official ceremony, launch drama and live performances at the International Waterfront in the capital Port of Spain.
Larger than life, Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival has evolved from elaborate masquerade balls, enjoyed exclusively by French plantation owners and their families, to a nationwide street party that embraces people of every colour, creed, class and background. Visitors are also actively encouraged to participate in all the major activities, from trying out the limbo to being covered in pure chocolate and dancing through the streets on j’ouvert morning.
Described as the greatest show on earth, Trinidad and Tobago’s hectic Carnival season kicks off on Boxing Day when the fetes (parties) begin, heralding the jubilant reign of the merry monarch.
It is during the post Christmas period that calypso tents open their doors to the public and cultural shows, from limbo and calypso competitions to massive soca concerts, commence. However it is the week before Carnival that the festival grows intense and energy levels skyrocket as Carnival lovers enjoy parties, cultural shows and traditional mas displays everyday.
Reflecting the country’s rich multi-ethnic heritage, the revelry, fantastic costumes, mouth-watering cuisine and infectious rhythms all combine for an exhibition of euphoria and creativity unrivalled anywhere in the world.
Unique, indigenous elements of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival that have influenced similar celebrations around the world include the Panorama steelband competition, Kiddies Carnival and themed “all-inclusive” parties featuring a host of energetic live performances and all you can eat and drink.
Continually evolving and growing, Carnival 2010 promises to be even better with improvements to the parade route and new exciting events.
About Trinidad and Tobago
Known as the Culture Capital of the Southern Caribbean and the Land of Festivals, this vibrant twin island destination is located just off the coast of Venezuela. The energy, manufacturing and banking hub of the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago are also known for stunning biodiversity and as the home of the world’s largest natural asphalt lake, the hemisphere’s oldest protected rainforest and the land of chutney music and steelpan.
CARNIVAL 2010 EVENTS
Saturday, February 13
Launched in 1963, Panorama is the annual competition for steelpan bands. Preliminary contests are hosted at panyards throughout the country in the weeks leading up to Carnival with the Panorama finals being the ultimate test of musical skill. Representing the islands’ top bands, selected steelbands compete before judges and thousands of spectators to win the prestigious title of Panorama Champions.
Kings and Queens Costume Competition
Sunday, February 14
These costumes typically weigh between 50 – 200 lbs, tower over 30 feet high and depict colourful themes, from dragons that breathe fire to fantasy dreamscapes. They are the leaders of masquerade bands and the competition to be selected as national King and Queen is fierce. Designers, who spend months creating these stunning costumes, boost their chances of winning with special effects such as lasers, fog, light shows, fireworks and music. Wheels are usually attached to the costume’s base to make mobility easier for the brave soul who will spend two days dancing on the streets of Port of Spain strapped into these colossal designs.
Sunday, February 14
Dimanche Gras is traditionally held the Sunday night before Carnival Monday. All the major elements of Carnival - mas, steelpan, calypso and soca music - are showcased at this event which features the finals of the King and Queen of the Bands and Calypso Monarch competition. Both contests are hotly contested and often feature elaborate stage presentations, and in the case of the King and Queen of the bands, breathtaking pyrotechnic displays. For locals, the highlight of the event is the Calypso Monarch competition in which 10 to 12 calypso singers, wielding engaging melodies, piercing social commentary and razor-sharp wit, battle for supremacy.
Monday, February 15
The official start of Carnival, j’ouvert takes place before dawn on Carnival Monday. From 4am, bands of revellers dress in old clothes and cover themselves in oil, grease, paint, chocolate and/or mud and parade through the towns and villages of Trinidad to the music of soca, steelband and calypso until the sun comes up.
Carnival Monday and Tuesday
Monday, February 15 and Tuesday, February 16
Carnival Monday is a “warm–up” for Carnival Tuesday and the parade begins around midday, after j’ouvert. Participants view Carnival Monday as a dress rehearsal (headpieces and full costume are not required) for the main event, Carnival Tuesday.
Carnival Tuesday begins promptly at 8 a.m. and masqueraders are in full costume ready, and impatiently, awaiting their chance to strut their stuff and dance wildly in front of the judges and television cameras as they make their way across the main stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah. Bands are judged in three categories: small, medium and large and winners are announced after all the bands have crossed the stage. The Champion Band is crowned Band of the Year.
Masquerade bands consist of thousands of people ‘jumping up’ (dancing) on the streets in major towns and villages. Band members wear glittery, colourful and often revealing costumes. Each band has its own historical, mythological or tropical concept with various sections depicting aspects of the main theme.
For a full listing of Carnival Events visit www.gotrinidadandtobago.com