Hailed as the “Mother of all West Indian Carnivals”, the Trinidad Carnival attracts people from all over the Caribbean and across the globe with its infectious music and dance. Trinidad’s capital Port of Spain comes alive with colour, costume and the thumping beats of soca and calypso every year, seeing its streets fill to the brim with over 300,000 revellers, all there to party and have a good time.
Trinidad Carnival dates back to the 19th century when emancipated slaves began the festivities in celebration of their new-found freedom. Mocking the fancy dress parties of their former owners, they combined costume with their own African traditions. These days the Trinidad Carnival has evolved into the largest and most popular of the Caribbean, with the main Carnival taking place over the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday each year. For the nation of Trinidad and Tobago, it is the most significant event on the islands, creating a huge influx of tourism over the Carnival period.
For the “Trini’s”, Carnival isn’t simply confined to the Monday and Tuesday main days, it takes over their entire year. Preparations start pretty much as soon as the last Carnival has ended and smaller celebrations and local competitions commence a few months prior to the big event. There’s a lot at stake for participating islanders, with some of the bigger competitions such as the International Soca Monarch or the Calypso Monarch offering up huge cash prizes as well as cars, fame and honour.
For those visiting Trinidad during Carnival, there are certain events that simply shouldn’t be missed….
Considering the steel pan originated from Trinidad & Tobago, it comes as no surprise to learn that one of the most significant events during Carnival is the Panorama competition. Open to both conventional and single steel pan bands, it is considered the most important steel pan competition in the world and rightly so. Held on the Saturday before Carnival at the Queen’s Park Savannah, guests are in for a real treat with over 100 musicians creating the most incredibly infectious music, making it impossible not to dance.
Dimanche Gras & Calypso Monarch
Taking place on the Sunday before Carnival, the Calypso Monarch is one of the biggest and most revered of all the Carnival competitions. A variety of Calypso singers battle it out to become the Calypso Monarch, with huge prizes at stake. Last year’s winner took away a substantial cash prize as well as a car and all the fame that comes with winning such a prestigious prize. Dimanche Gras is the huge cultural show that takes place prior to Carnival Monday and is also held at the Queen’s Park Savannah and leads revellers into J’Ouvert in style.
This is the official start to the two days of Carnival celebrations and begins just before dawn on the Monday morning. Expect to see the streets filled with people decked out in old clothes with faces covered in grease, mud and paint, all dancing frantically in the streets until sunrise. This is the beginning of Carnival and all part of the show.
Carnival Monday & Tuesday
The party ambience reaches its climax on both Monday and Tuesday of Carnival when the streets of Port of Spain burst alive with music and colour. Masqueraders fill the streets, dressed in costumes of all kinds, and “jump up” (dance) to the pulsating sounds of soca, calypso and steel pan bands. Trinidad turns into the biggest party in the Caribbean and everyone is welcome!
Let Us Plan Your Caribbean Carnival Holiday
We can arrange your flight and hotel to Trinidad so that all you have to do is decide which costume to wear! We can find and book your perfect holiday – at the perfect price. Arranging everything from airport lounge access to transfers. Book today and pay the balance later or in instalments.