Antigua Carnival

Antigua Carnival
The Antigua Carnival is an annual Caribbean carnival that celebrates the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies. It is a ten-day festival featuring colorful costumed processions, talent shows, beauty pageants, and contests, which has become a major tourist attraction in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Antigua Carnival dates back to 1834, when slavery was abolished in Antigua and Barbuda and other British colonies in the Caribbean. Upon hearing the news, people took to the streets to celebrate their freedom. However, the first official Carnival-like celebration in Antigua and Barbuda had nothing to do with the emancipation because it was dedicated to the Christmas season. The Old Time Christmas Festival was replaced with the Antigua Carnival in 1957.

The Antigua Carnival usually begins on the last weekend of July and ends on the first Tuesday of August. The festival is filled with festivities that celebrate emancipation, ranging from various competitions and pageants to colorful parades and processions, concerts, and cultural shows. Each day of the festival offers a unique experience not to be missed.

The Carnival hosts four big parades and three pageants. The opening parade marches through the capital city of St. John’s, followed by the opening ceremony held at Carnival City (Antigua Recreation Ground). The Children’s Carnival Parade was established so that the children may enjoy the Carnival to the fullest. J'Ouvert is the parade held in the early hours of the morning on Carnival Monday. Finally, the main parade takes place on Carnival Tuesday. It features different troupes, bands and floats. The three pageants held during the Antigua Carnival are Teen Splash, Queen of Carnival, and Jaycees Caribbean Queen Show.

Calypso and soca music is an essential part of the Antigua Carnival. Performers from all over the island compete for coveted titles, including Junior Calypso and Party Monarch. Antigua also hosts the official steel pan competition named Panorama. Jam bands are a significant part of the Carnival festivities as well.

Alongside the official Carnival events, there are plenty of informal parties and jams that take place throughout the Carnival season. Although they are not planned by the Carnival Development Committee, these events are a very important part of the festivities for patrons.

Antigua Carnival

Photo: luca gargano




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