Boston’s Trinidad Style Carnival

Boston’s Trinidad Style Carnival
Boston’s Trinidad Style Carnival is one of the biggest and most famous Caribbean carnivals in the United States. It is held every summer on the last Saturday in August (the weekend before Labor Day).

Boston’s Trinidad Style Carnival was founded in 1973 by Ken Bonaparte Mitchell and Ivy Ponder. The first carnival parade featured 40 American students from a modeling agency and Red Joe from 21 Steel Band. Their costumes were designed and made by Mitchell. Members of the local Caribbean community got involved the following year and the festival began to grow. Since its inception, it has become one of the best Caribbean carnivals in the nation, as well as one of the most anticipated events in Boston.

Although the Carnival itself takes place on the last Saturday of August, it is preceded by a series of festive events with paid admission including the Kiddies Carnival on the Saturday prior to the main event, and the King & Queen Show and the Face Mask J’Ouvert Cruise on the Friday before the Carnival. The Carnival consists of J’ouvert (an opening party that kicks off at 6 am) and the Carnival Parade that starts at noon. Both events are free for anyone to attend.

The King & Queen Show features the costumes which are part of each band’s presentation for the season. It provides a great opportunity to experience a close-up view of the costumes. Entertainment at the show is provided by steel bands and a line-up of local and international soca artists.

The Face Mask J’Ouvert Cruise is the signature event of Boston’s Trinidad Style Carnival. All guests are asked to wear a costume and a face mask (or paint their faces instead of wearing a mask). A local rhythm section an a DJ provide music. The boat sets sail at about 9 pm and returns by 12 am so that guests can attend the parade.

Those who’ve chosen not to participate in the cruise can attend J’Ouvert that begins at 6 am on the Carnival Saturday. The party is very humorous, although dark in terms of presentation. Participants wear costumes they’ve designed themselves and have fun for hours until it’s time to head to the Parade.

The Parade is the main event of Boston’s Trinidad Style Carnival. It begins at noon or 1 pm and moves along Blue Hill Avenue, culminating in front of Franklin Park Zoo where there is a food court featuring Caribbean cuisines and many merchandise stalls. The parade route is about 1.5 miles long. The procession features musicians and dancers in vibrant costumes.

Boston’s Trinidad Style Carnival

Photo: Leonardo March




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