17 Of The Best Caribbean Carnivals and Festivals In The World And All Caribbean Carnival Questions Answered
Caribbean carnivals are the single best way to experience Caribbean culture in a short period of time. In the Caribbean, there is an entire year of buildup and planning for one of these large scale events. Each country tries to out do the other in attendance and extravagance of their parade and costumes. These are multiple day events that usually start off with costume competitions, a beauty pageant and the crowning of the king and queen. Next there will be a large scale parade with big trucks with loudspeakers and bands singing on them. Behind each truck there will be dancers in costumes, this is called playing Mas. This is a spectacle and is great for families to attend.
You can walk your favourite truck or float all the way to the finish line, this is called doing the road march. At the end of the parade, you can enjoy a day full of live music, dancing and amazing Caribbean food in the J’ouvert village. J’ouvert is the name of the beginning of the Carnival. The people attending the carnivals will be flossing their countries flags, you will know where each person is from right away. If you are visiting the Caribbean, try to align your trip to one of these carnivals. It is an unforgettable experience. Here is an example of what a Caribbean carnival will look like form the street level.
17 Best Caribbean Carnivals and Festivals In The World
Caribana in Toronto is one of the largest Caribbean Festivals in the world. Toronto is a major hub for Caribbean people coming to Canada and so is neighbouring New York. People from both of these cities and from all over the world converge on Toronto’s Downtown every year at the beginning of August to celebrate Caribbean people and culture. There is a massive parade, monster Caribbean parties and 3 days of live entertainment. During this festival, you will be able to meet loads of Caribbean people and professional entertainers as well as enjoy the rich unique foods of the Caribbean. Over 2 million people will attend this event.
New York Duck Curry
This is a massive cooking festival for Caribean people that happens in a park in New York every year. There is live music, food and drink.
Edmonton, Alberta Cariwest
Edmontons Cariwest Festival is a large scale event for a small city. Over 100k people attend a large scale parade, they have parties every night and all day live entertainment.
Trinidads Carnival is a world class event, bringing in millions of attendees every year. It happens on Feb 27-28 and it is a wild party consisting of a massive parade with professional live singers. Caribbean bands compete at the parade to be the king or queen of the road march competition for entertainment. There are huge parties, food and drink pouring, people in extravagant costumes, and pure excitement on the island. If there is one Caribbean Carnival to go too, this is the biggest in the Caribbean.
Although not directly in the Caribbean Brazils carnival is one that has to be mentioned because of its size. This is also a world class carnival and it is actually the largest in the world. People travel from everywhere to see this huge event.
The Bahamas Junkanoo parade is a large scale parade that happens on boxing day Dec 26 and Jan 1 New years day every year. It is a large scale parade and street party full of colorful costumes and exciting people. Junkanoo parade is located in the capital Nassau.
Miami Broward Carnival
The Miami broward carnival is an exciting Caribbean festival that brings in famous Caribbean singers right to Miami beach. There is a street parade, huge parties, costumes and great food.
Havanas carnival in Cuba is a day of celebrations where the slave masters used to give their workers a day off. This has turned into centuries of celebration and is now a colourful display of entertainment and fun that spills out onto the streets of Havana every year from Aug 24-Aug 31.
This is a large carnival showcasing beautiful costumes and a parade. There are parties, great food and awesome reggae and soca music. Dates are Nov 17 for this event.
The Haiti Kanaval is a parade and outdoor party with live Haitian and Caribbean bands with French twist! It is called the Bel Kanaval and happens on new years day.
Barbados Crop Over
They call the Barbados crop over the most colourful festival in the Caribbean, it is a massive outdoor festival with live music and parade celebrating the independance of Barbados. The main part of the event happens on Aug 5 every year although they celebrate crop over in smaller forms throughout the year. It is a build up to the big event. During crop over the streets go wild with music and dancing.
This happens every year between July 23 and Aug 12. It is also a buildup to a main event, where there is a large scale street party. Famous reggae and soca bands converge on the island and there are huge parties every night.
US Virgin Island, St Thomas V.I Carnival
During this carnival there are 2 parades, an adult parade and a children’s parade. There are also huge parties for multiple nights, great music and food stalls set up. Live bands come from all over the Caribbean to entertain onlookers. This happens from April 21 to April 28th in St Thomas.
The Grenada Spicemas has a large parade and street party followed by 2 days of partying. There are live bands, beautiful costumes, and lots of Caribbean food.
Mashramani, is an annual festival that celebrates Guyana becoming a Republic in 1970. The festival, is held on Feb 23 every year – Guyanese Republic Day – includes a parade, music, games and cooking and is intended to commemorate the “Birth of the Republic”
Cayman Islands Batabano
This happens every year on May 4 and May 5th and is a celebration of Cayman Caribbean culture and people. Grand Caymans capital Georgetown will erupt into a large street party with costumes, music and live bands. They crown a king and queen and there are parties both night of the event.
Puerto Rico Carnaval De Ponce
The Puerto Rico Carnival happens on Feb 27 and lasts 1 week ending March 4th or 5th. This is a celebration of Lent, and offers a whole week of parties, live music, and parades!
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Common Questions About Caribbean Carnivals and Festivals
Where is the biggest Caribbean Carnival?
The biggest and highest rated Caribbean carnival with parade is located in Trinidad. This is the most popular Caribbean festival in the world.
Where is the best Caribbean Carnival or festival?
The best Caribbean carnival is in Trinidad. It is the largest and most popular. Second to that is in Toronto.
What is the best Caribbean Festival for West Indians?
The best Caribbean festival for West Indians is the Miami carnival or the Toronto Caribana because of the diverse groups it brings in. The West Indians for the most part are the only ones that listen to chutney music. Which is a version of Hindi music. The Toronto carnival and the Miami carnival has such a large population of these people that there are parties dedicated to them and their music. Although all are welcome.
What is the best Caribbean Festival for Spanish people?
Puerto Ricos Carnival De Ponce is the best Carnival if you want to hear a lot of Spanish music, and eat Latin foods.
What is the best Caribbean carnival for French people?
The best Caribbean carnival for French people is the Haiti Karnaval, if you want to hear mostly French music and eat French Caribbean cuisine.
Why do people like Caribbean Carnivals?
People love Caribbean carnivals because they are diverse and welcoming to all people. Carnivals are colourful with beautiful costumes and happy people. It can be one of the best ways to experience a culture because everyone is happy, there is great Caribbean food and music.
Do all Caribbean Carnivals have parades?
Yes all Caribbean carnivals have a parade, however not all of the festivals will.
Are Caribbean Carnivals fun for kids?
Caribbean carnivals are family friendly and there is always an area dedicated to kids as well as space for them to sing and dance along. Kids love the extravagant costumes, and are welcomed to dance in the street to the beat of the Caribbean music!
What type of music do they play at Caribbean Carnivals and Festivals?
They will generally play Calypso, Soca, Reggae, Chutney, Reggae tone or the steel pan.
Are Caribbean Carnivals Dangerous?
No Caribbean carnivals are not dangerous, most cities promote these carnival as there are very few incidences. However there can be violence at parties for various reasons and sexual assaults. In Trinidad for example the have made grinding with another person unconsensually illegal and are strictly enforcing this to protect the people. These are exciting parties and people can sometimes get carried away.
Do they serve food at Caribbean Carnivals and festivals?
Yes there will be food stalls all over the place and most carnivals will have a “village” that the parade ends in that offers food and drinks!
Do they have alcohol at Caribbean carnivals?
Yes every Caribbean carnivals serves alcohol in the village area. Most of the areas where you can drink are bordered off by a fence to prevent children from entering.
Do you have to wear a costume to Caribbean Carnivals?
You do not have to wear a costume, but that is part of the fun. We usually just wear a bandana of our flags and random jewelry with the colour of the flag.
Do you have to be from the Caribbean to go to a Caribbean festival?
Absolutely not. Caribbean people are fun and are welcoming of others to come and celebrate the culture. In the parades you will see all races and colours of people attend and they all fit right in!
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