Trinidad’s Carnival is more than just a party, it is an explosion of color, music, revelry, and creativity that seems as if it lasts all week. We walk you through a day by day rundown of what to expect. Carnival in Trinidad has spawned similar celebrations around the world; but nothing on earth can rival the abandon, euphoria and stunning spectacle of this festival. It runs every year on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
With its massive masquerade bands, spectacular costumes, pulsating music and unparalleled stamina for partying, Trinidad’s Carnival is often described as the greatest show on earth. It is a time for release and everyone is invited to join the party.
Things get started early: J’Ouvert
Each year at 4:00 am on Monday, Carnival begins under a cloak of darkness. Fueled by exhilaration and the energetic rhythms of Soca music, revelers take to the streets for the predawn party of J’Ouvert.
J’Ouvert (from the French ‘jour ouvert’ or ‘day open’) is a ritualistic experience in its celebration of the darker elements of the island’s folklore and history. Bathed in chocolate, mud, oil and paint, bands of revellers depict devils, demons, and monsters. J’Ouvert is a time for loosening of inhibitions.
The party continues on Carnival Monday
When the sun rises, the J’Ouvert revelry clears and massive costumed bands of “Pretty Mas” players flood the street with riotous color. Thousands take to the street “jumping up” and “wining” (gyrating of the hips) to the sound of soca blaring from speakers piled on music trucks. The excitement is at fever pitch, but Carnival Monday is only a “warm-up” for Carnival Tuesday.
An Epic Judging Competition on Carnival Tuesday
Carnival Tuesday begins promptly at 8 a.m. Thousands of masqueraders are in full costume, ready and impatiently awaiting their chance to strut in front of the television cameras as bands cross the main judging points. Each band has its own historical, mythological or tropical concept with various sections depicting aspects of the main theme.
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 Masquerade Band of the Year.
Trinidad’s Carnival is truly an experience that you have to, well, experience. You don’t have to paint yourself or make an elaborate costume, but just to take in the vibe of Carnival in Trinidad is something that you will never forget.
A refuge from it all
After a day that perhaps found you caked in mud, sweat and beer, we think you should treat yourself to a stay at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port of Spain. Edging the vibrant waterfront of Trinidad, this exquisite hotel is a captivating destination that connects you with the sparkling waters of Caribbean. Relax on the terrace and take in vistas of the sea. Relax in your chic bedroom while the rhythms of the city wash over you, or indulge yourself at the spa.
These elegant hotel rooms on the shores of the Caribbean boast stylish bamboo flooring, deluxe bath with glass-enclosed rain showers and Portico amenities, dual-line portable telephones and both wired and Wi-Fi high speed Internet access. Lounge on your plush king size bed while watching the flat-screen TV. Chill out to your favorite tunes on an stereo with iPod docking. Enjoy the exceptional amenities, gorgeous water views and spectacular service at this luxurious waterfront hotel on the Caribbean Sea … then get back out to Carnival!! That is why you are here after all.
To take you a little bit away from the ordinary for supper we are commanding you to go to Richard’s Bake and Shark at least once on your trip. Bake and Shark is a very popular street food sold in Trinidad and Tobago. It is one of those must-try items for visitors to the twin-island Republic and for locals, a week without eating Bake and Shark would just seem unnatural. Richard’s started making Bake ‘n’ Shark in the early 80′s, and since then many stands have started selling the same thing, making it a kind of tradition in the area.