Monday, January 26, 2015

Trinidad & Tobago Carnival 2015 to kick off on February 16-17

An explosion of colour, music, revelry, and creativity, Trinidad's Carnival has spawned similar celebrations around the world - including our very own Goa. But nothing can rival the abandonment, euphoria and stunning spectacle of the one celebrated in T&T!

The annual festival will take place this year on February 16-17, 2015 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Each year at 4am on Monday, Carnival begins under a cloak of darkness. Fuelled by exhilaration and the energetic rhythms of the soca music, revelers take to the streets for the predawn party of J'Ouvert. 

J'Ouvert (from the French 'jour ouvert' or 'day open') is almost ritualistic in its celebration of the darker elements of the island's folklore and history. Bathed in chocolate, mud, oil and paint, bands of revelers depict devils, demons, monsters and imps! J'Ouvert is a time for the loosening of inhibitions.

Come daytime, the J'Ouvert revelry clears and massive costumed bands of 'Pretty Mas' players flood the street with riotous colour. A cast of thousands take to the street 'jumping up' and 'wining' (gyrating of the hips) to the sound of soca blaring from speakers piled on music trucks.

The excitement is at fever pitch, but Carnival Monday is only a warm-up for Carnival Tuesday, which begins promptly at 8am. Thousands of masqueraders are in full costume, ready and impatiently awaiting their chance to strut in front of the television cameras as bands cross the main judging points. Each band has its own historical, mythological or tropical concept with various sections depicting aspects of the main theme. Bands are judged in three categories: small, medium and large and winners are announced after all the bands have crossed the stage. The Champion Band is crowned 'Masquerade Band of the Year'.

While Monday and Tuesday are officially the main days for Carnival, celebrations for Carnival begin right after Christmas, right up until Carnival Sunday. It is during this post-Christmas period that calypso tents open their doors to the public and cultural shows, from Limbo competitions to massive soca concerts, begin. 

Radio stations begin to play the latest soca hits and many masquerade bands launch their new themes. Steelbands begin intense preparations for Panorama, the annual competition for steel pan bands. Preliminary contests are hosted at panyards throughout the country during the six weeks leading up to Carnival. Panorama finals are the ultimate test of musical skill. Representing the best of the best, selected bands compete before judges and thousands of spectators the Saturday night before Carnival officially begins.

So... do you have an unparalleled stamina for partying? Then Trinidad's the place to be.

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