Trinidad & Tobago Carnival Goes Down February 8-9 2016

Written by Red Carpet Shelley. Posted in Caribbean Culture, Carnival

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Published on February 01, 2016 with No Comments

Photo: Socanews.com

Photo: Socanews.com

 

Representing more than 500 years of European and African cultural heritage, Carnival was originally a Catholic festival, a final fling before the denial of the flesh ordained by Lent. Today, however, it is a show of cultural expression and solidarity, and occurs at different times of the year on many of the islands.

Carnival season is party season, and in Trinidad it begins many months in advance. There are mas band launches, large fêtes, and calypso tents where contenders for the Calypso Monarch crown perform nightly. No carnival would be complete without the various competitions that highlight the thought, skill and creativity on which each component of the festival is based. After weeks of intense preparation, steelbands deliver their best interpretations of leading party tunes and custom-made pan songs at the Panorama finals.

The climax to it all, however, takes place on the Monday and Tuesday which precede Ash Wednesday. Festivities begin on the streets in the small hours of Carnival Monday morning, with J’Ouvert. In Trinidad this includes a celebration of ‘ole mas’ or ‘dirty mas’, when many revellers, their bodies smeared in tar, oil, paint or mud, take to the streets. They wear costumes made of rags and old clothing, portraying all kinds of ghouls and devils.

Later in the day, the big mas bands and spectators converge on the streets for the parade of the bands in the heart of the capital. On these two days, thousands of masqueraders take full possession of the streets in the main cities and towns. They wear carefully crafted costumes, portraying themes inspired by nature, history or simply a fertile imagination. On the road, much of the music is supplied by DJs on big trucks, although some of the larger bands hire popular artists to provide live entertainment and others prefer to move to the sound of the steelbands.

It all comes to an end on Tuesday, at the stroke of midnight, with Las Lap – the concluding chapter of this wild array of sound and colour, when there’s just a little bit more dancing and following of trucks, to the very bittersweet end

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