In all the years I’ve lived abroad, when someone would ask me what is Trini Carnival like, I’d light up explaining the whole season of vivacious fetes, Panorama and Soca competitions, Dimanche Gras, Kiddie’s Carnival, J‘ouvert and pretty mas. Well yes I just confused them into thinking they would have to move to Trinidad for a couple months for all that.
Carnival season starts immediately after the Christmas holiday and ends on Carnival Tuesday (otherwise known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday in some parts of the world), with multiple fetes every weekend and the entire week leading up to pretty mas on Carnival Monday & Tuesday. It becomes like a cult once soca (short for “soul of calypso”) music starts being released by local artists, it’s the only music you hear during this time!
I’ve always said you do not have to “play mas” (short for masqueraders) to enjoy Carnival. That’s been my excuse since I can’t imagine me jumping up in the hot sun for two days, I have always been a “do-everything-up-to-J’ouvert” kind of girl. Although playing mas is on my bucketlist of things to do before I turn 40…who knows!
So what do I enjoy most at Carnival time?
The term “fete” is basically French for an elaborate party. Yes, being from a multicultural nation, our local “English” dialect is influenced by history so words from the French, Spanish, Indian, African, Chinese is normal in our everyday speak. The fetes range from lavish expensive all inclusive parties to late night cooler fetes to boat cruises to early morning breakfast parties.
All inclusive parties are hands down my favourite. Not that I could ever eat and drink my money’s worth at the open bars and more food than one can imagine…but there are people who try!
It’s my time to catch up with long time friends, family and party with the girls!
Even bumping into and taking a drink with local celebrities, including former Prime Ministers, is acceptable!
The live entertainment of local stars like Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin and some of the best DJs on the island (Private Ryan is a favourite) keep you pumping and singing along till it becomes an out of body experience…definitely a good workout on the dancefloor!
Rain doesn’t stop us from the bacchanal!
Late night cooler fetes are more casual and laid back but the party vibes keep you going till dawn. Then you hit a breakfast party?
Ok clearly I love my fetes! But this year I did enjoy Panorama Semi Finals, that’s another party in itself. All about the steelpan music, afterall the steelpan was born in Trinidad!
J’ouvert! This costumed street party (be it in oil, mud, coloured paint or chocolate…yes chocolate!) officially launches Carnival Monday at daybreak. It takes stamina to leave a fete Sunday night at 10pm (after 8 hours of partying/eating/drinking) and get ready for J’ouvert at 3am on Monday morning (hats of to those who then rinse and repeat for pretty mas on the road later on Monday). The party never stops…
As I said Carnival for me is a time to catch up and “take ah wine” on family and friends…from those I went to school with and only bump into at these vivacious fetes annually, to dancing with strangers (perfectly acceptable) to having a blast of a time with my usual peeps. Carnival is my bonding time when I’m in Trinidad for it and one thing I can admit…we Trinis bloody well know how to throw a party and live in the moment!
*Big thanks to my family and friends for starring in my photos, luv ya all! See you all on the feting scene in 2015!