Carriacou and Petite Martinique Carnival

Carriacou and Petite Martinique Carnival
The island of Carriacou belongs to the Grenadine Islands located in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. It is part of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, a dependency of Grenada. The island is a popular tourist destination due to its white sand beaches and the annual Carriacou Carnival which takes place before the liturgical season of Lent.

Carriacou is reputed to be the safest, healthiest and friendliest island in the Caribbean. The islanders have retained many traditions that date back to the colonial times, including the Big Drum music and European dances such as quadrille. The Carriacou and Petite Martinique Carnival is probably the best occasion to get acquainted with these traditions.

The Carnival of Carriacou is celebrated on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday every year. It is preceded by an array of cultural events that lead up to the main event. They include the Carriacou Carnival Queen Show, the Power Soca Finals, the Jab Convention, and the Groovy Soca/Calypso Finals.

The main celebration begins on Shrove Monday at dawn. People flood the streets to participate in a large street party called J’ouvert, which means “dawn” or “daybreak” in some of the French-based creole languages. J’ouvert is a widespread Carnival tradition in the Caribbean. In Carriacou and the rest of Grenada a part of the tradition involves smearing mud or black paint on the bodies of revelers known as “Jan Jabs”.

On Monday night there’s a colorful street parade called the Monday Night Mas’. Another parade, the Parade of the Bands, takes place on Tuesday. It features dancers in vibrant costumes, soca and calypso music, and the famous Big Drum dance that celebrates the West African ancestors of the inhabitants of Carriacou.

One of the main highlights of the Carriacou Carnival is Shakespeare Mas. The tradition involves men in bright costumes engaging in a kind of a poetry slam, but instead of original work they recite verses from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. The competition begins on Tuesday morning in the villages across Carriacou and culminates in the town of Hillsborough at noon. Shakespeare Mas is a unique feature of the Carriacou Carnival that you can’t witness anywhere else in the world.

Carriacou Carnival

Photo: Carriacouan Lens




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