Cambridge Carnival International

Cambridge Carnival International
Cambridge Carnival International, also known as simply Cambridge Carnival, an annual Trinidadian-style costume parade and celebration that takes place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. The festival is held the Sunday after Labor Day.

The roots of Caribbean-style carnival celebrations can be traced back to the 17th century. At that time, slaves were forbidden to participate in Carnival celebrations, so they did it in secret. Since the abolition of slavery, Caribbean carnival has become a celebration of emancipation, freedom, expression, and Afro-Caribbean culture. People from different countries and backgrounds celebrate their native cultures through vibrant costumes, bright masks, music and dancing.

Cambridge Carnival was first held in 1992 as a small street fair. Over the years, it has grown to become one of the biggest and most spectacular annual events in the Greater Boston area. Originally held in August in Central Square, it was moved to Kendall Square in 2004 and the date was changed to Sunday after Labor Day.

The main event of Cambridge Carnival International is the parade featuring masqueraders in bright colored costumes adorned with feathers and beads, dance troupes, and musicians (steel bands and percussion groups). Rooted in Afro-Caribbean traditions, the grand costume parade is Cambridge’s largest festival. Revelers march and dance along a 1.3-mile route that begins at Putnam Avenue and River Street and ends in Kendall Square.

Along with the costume parade, Cambridge Carnival features two music stages with a powerful line-up of DJ's and local bands and KidsFest zone. The International Stage features world music, gospel, soca, calypso, reggae, and other styles of music. The Viewing Stage hosts a judged costume competition followed by live musical performances.

KidsFest presents activities for children aged 5 to 14, including arts and crafts, stilt walking demos, face painting, balloon art, storytelling, fun games, and other activities to keep the youngest attendees occupied and entertained. Most of the activities are free.

Cambridge Carnival International is one of the biggest and most diverse celebrations of Caribbean culture in North America. Its has an annual attendance of more than 100,000 people from all over New England and other parts of the United States, as well as abroad.

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

Cambridge Carnival International

Photo: Blake Gumprecht




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