Saint Kitts and Nevis National Carnival (Sugar Mas)

Saint Kitts and Nevis National Carnival (Sugar Mas)
The original meaning of the term “Carnival” is a Western Christian festive season occurring before Lent. Hence, in most European countries carnival celebrations usually peak in February. Carnivals in the Caribbean, however, often don’t have anything to do with Lent. The Saint Kitts and Nevis National Carnival, for example, takes place during the Christmas and New Year holiday season.

Many Caribbean countries hold their carnivals in late July and early August to celebrate the abolition of slavery (the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 came into force on August 1, 1834). But the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis has two carnivals. Nevis’s Culturama is held in late July/early August, whereas the Saint Kitts and Nevis National Carnival takes place in late December and early January. The latter is celebrated mainly on Saint Kitts.

Although Culturama takes place on Nevis and the National Carnival takes place on Kitts, people from both islands participate in both events. And, of course, both carnivals attract plenty of tourists who want to experience Caribbean culture and have fun.

The Saint Kitts and Nevis National Carnival is also known as Sugar Mas. Mas is short for Masquerade. In many Caribbean countries, Carnival is also referred to as Mas. The word “sugar” is probably a reference to Saint Kitts’s nickname, Sugar City. The cultivation of sugar cane helped boost the economy of Saint Kitts during the colonial era and continued to dominate the local economy until the early 2000s.

Sugar Mas is organized by the Saint Kitts Department of Culture. It launches in mid-November and culminates on New Year’s Day with the National Carnival Grand Parade. The Saint Kitts Carnival isn’t a single event but an almost two month long series of parties, competitions, celebrations and other events.

Sugar Mas features calypso and soca competitions, concerts and shows, parties, bar crawls, special Christmas events, masquerades, folklore storytelling, fetes, street parades, Christmas tree lighting, pageants, balls, and more. But the most important events of the carnival season on Saint Kitts are J’ouvert (a large street party that begins at dawn), the Senior Calypso Monarch Finals, and the Carnival Grand Parade. Like most other carnival parades, it is filled with music, dance, and bright costumes.

In 2020/2021, the event was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sugar Mas

Photo: stormdog




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