St. Maarten Carnival

St. Maarten Carnival
The island of Saint Martin (Saint-Martin in French or Sint Maarten in Dutch) is the world’s smallest inhabited island divided between two nations. Its northern part (the Collectivity of Saint Martin) belongs to France and its southern part (Sint Maarten) is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. And each part has its own Carnival! The Carnival of Saint-Martin is held before Lent, whereas St. Maarten Carnival takes place in April or May.

The roots of all Caribbean Carnivals can be traced back to Western Christian pre-Lenten celebrations. European settlers brought the tradition of Shrovetide parades and street parties to Caribbean colonies, where these traditions amalgamated with the customs of African slaves and eventually became a unique event with its own atmosphere. In some parts of the Caribbean carnival is still held before Lent, but in many Caribbean countries it has been moved to August to commemorate the abolition of slavery. And St. Maarten Carnival is a rare exception, being held in late April or early May.

The history of St. Maarten Carnival dates back to the 1970s, when two representatives of a government committee responsible for arranging and carrying out activities to celebrate various holidays attended the St. Thomas Carnival (U.S. Virgin Islands). It wasn’t just a pleasure trip; they were tasked with observing how the carnival was organized and obtaining information that would help improve St. Maarten’s annual Saint Martin’s Day Parade.

However, the French side of the island soon followed suit, and the St. Martin’s day festivities in St. Maarten lost their appeal. So the committee decided to move the annual parade to spring in order to avoid competition. The Queen’s official birthday, April 30, was chosen for the Grand Parade. One of the reasons to choose this date was that it followed the end of St. Thomas Carnival and coincided with the end of the tourist season in the Caribbean.

St. Maarten Carnival experienced some financial difficulties in the 1980s, but it has since recovered and become one of the brightest carnival celebrations in the Caribbean. It is organized by the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) that was formed in 1990.

The main venue of the Carnival is Carnival Village, an open, semi-circular structure consisting of 79 connected booths that offer food and entertainment. Here you can listen to soca and calypso music, eat delicious barbecue chicken, dumplings, johnny cakes and other Caribbean specialties, and buy authentic souvenirs and Carnival merchandise.

St. Maarten Carnival features a lot of exciting events such as pageants, musical contests, special events and activities for children and youth, street parties, and more. Naturally, the program includes traditional carnival events such as J’ouvert, the Grand Parade, and the symbolic funeral of King Momo that concludes the Carnival.

St. Maarten Carnival




Related Articles