🇰🇾 Batabano Carnival

Batabano is the Cayman Islands annual Caribbean Carnival! It is a wild, vibrant and colourful celebration that embraces Cayman Island culture and heritage. Here is everything you need to know about attending carnival in the Cayman Islands.


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    When is Batabano Carnival 2024?

    The 2024 Batabano Carnival dates have not yet been determined. The carnival generally takes place in May. We will keep you updated when we know.

    Where is Batabano?

    The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory. The Cayman Islands consist of 3 islands that sit in the western Caribbean Sea. Grand Cayman, the largest island, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, the smallest island.

    Batabano takes place on Grand Cayman in George Town which is the capital of the Cayman Islands. George Town lies in the west of the island. It is a financial hub and a major port of call for cruise ships.

    What is Batabano Carnival?

    batabano carnival

    Batabano, pronounced BAH-tuh-buh-nu, is officially called the Cayman Carnival Batabano. It is an annual Caribbean Carnival that takes place in the Cayman Islands. It is one of the biggest events of the year in Grand Cayman and a time when people from all different backgrounds come together to celebrate community spirit.

    The Cayman Island residents descend from over 100 different countries whose cultures have all melted together to create a unique cultural diversity that is demonstrated through local dance, music, fashion and lifestyles. Batabano is all about celebrating and embracing local Cayman culture.

    Batabano is an explosion of culture and color. It is a celebration filled with Caribbean music, dance, elaborate costumes, lots of rum, feasting on local cuisine, parties and cultural events. It is the time when the usually conservative Cayman Islands let loose and live life to the fullest!

    While a relatively young Caribbean Carnival, only being 34 years old. The carnival has been growing in popularity year after year. The carnival attracts thousands of domestic and international visits who come to enjoy the celebrations.

    What is the history of Batabano?

    The first Batabano was launched back in 1983 by the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman. The carnival got its name Batabano because they wanted to honor Cayman Islands turtling heritage. Turtles have always been a very important part of Cayman Island heritage. Back in the 1600s the Cayman Islands were a key stop for ships due to the abundant population of green sea turtles.

    The word Batabano means the tracks left in the sand by sea turtles and they walk across the beach to nest. Finding these turtle tracks on the beach was – and even to this day – is a wonderful reason to celebrate because it means the turtle population is replenishing. The turtle is an important symbol of the Cayman Islands.

    How do they celebrate Batabano Carnival?

    batabano carnival

    Batabano can be divided into two big celebrations. The first one is the more traditional Caribbean Carnival celebrations that are adult-focused. The other celebrations are more family friendly celebrations for the kids and the whole family to take part in.

    🇩🇪 Cologne Carnival

    The Adult Batabano celebrations take place first. The biggest part of the celebration is the road parade composed of Masquerade Bands, and stunning colorful costumes. The parade is judged and a Masquerade Band is declared a winner.

    There are loads of other events on the day including a massive street party that has DJs across three stages. There are also fetes and parties in the lead up to parade day and of course what would a Caribbean carnival be without a J’Ouvert celebration.

    The Junior Batabano was introduced in 2002 to make some carnival celebrations that were more family friendly celebrations. Junior Batabano sees the kids get a chance to participate in a parade and gets the next generation excited about carnival. There are loads of other fun activities from face painting, carnival rides, to mask decorating.

    Adult Batabano Carnival Events

    batabano carnival

    Batabano J’Ouvert

    J’ouvert which is the French word for day break is one of the most popular events of Batabano. It is essentially a smaller sunrise parade. It occurs the weekend before carnival. You must buy tickets to join up with a J’ouvert band. Your tickets will get you a T-shirt, drinks, a Caribbean breakfast and a goodie bag. Trust us it is so much fun! You don’t want to miss this!

    Le Masque Ball

    Le Masque Ball is a very elegant masquerade ball that is one of the main events of Batabano. It is a luxurious event that features wonderful cultural and costume displays, delicious Caymanian cuisine, and live entertainment featuring popular Soca and Calypso artists. It kicks off with a cocktail reception and is then followed by dinner, dancing and live entertainment.

    Batabano Friday Night Fete “Outta De Blue”

    This is one of Batabano’s biggest fetes. It is a night fete called “Outta De Blue. The fete includes internationally-renowned DJs and popular Soca artists in addition to some local artists. This is a popular fete to attend.

    Batabano Food Festival

    This is an experience that should not be missed. In what many call the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean! Batabano hosts an epic food festival. This will delight your senses. It is the ultimate street food extravaganza with loads of local food vendors serving up some of the most delicious Cayman, Caribbean as well as international cuisine.

    Cayman Carnival Batabano Street Parade

    Batabano has one of the best parade routes in the Caribbean as it marches adjacent to the beautiful Seven Mile Beach, whilst winding around the center of George Town. If you don’t join in, find a good spot along the parade route and enjoy watching as thousands of energetic revelers dance through the streets in the most exotic costumes.

    🇧🇸 Bahamas Carnival

    The adult street parade is the main event of Batabano. The streets come alive with an amalgamation of color, costumes, music and pageantry. Visitors can join  in and parade or “jump” as the Caymanians say. There are stilt walkers, musicians, acrobats and limbo dancers.

    Batabano Last Lap

    The Batabano Last Lap fete occurs directly after the street parade. There are 3 stages for music set up in the streets. It allows the party to continue after the parade, where people dance the night away to music from local and visiting artists and DJs.

    Sunday Batabano Sunday Boating

    Boating to Rum Point on Sunday is a local Cayman tradition, but it’s extra fun on Batabano Sunday! So jump on one of the Batabano Mas Band boat cruises or if you can head out in your own boat. It’s a fun day so get creative and wear a cool costume/swimwear outfit!

    Junior Batabano Carnival Events

    batabano carnival

    Junior Batabano “Pan and Pooches on Parade” & Junior Batabano Family Fun Day  & Street Parade

    • Parade route: Begins at the Glass House Building, loops around George Town and heads back to the Glass House Building.

    Cayman Carnival Junior Batabano is a family-friendly carnival where the kids get a chance to parade through George Town in their own mas bands. It is like a mini version of the adult parade, lots of colorful costumes, soca music and dancing. After the event the winners of the “Junior Band of the Year” competition are announced.

    The fun continues after the parade with loads of fun for the whole family. There are costume competitions, carnival rides, face painting, mask decorating, local food, snow cones and many other family fun activities.

    What is Playing Mas?

    When it comes to celebrating carnival in the Cayman Islands you can either just be a spectator or you can join in the parades! When you want to join in it is called playing mas. For those not familiar with Caribbean Carnival, to play mas you have to join a masquerade band.

    You cannot just show up in a beautiful home-made costume and join the parade. You must select a mas band that you want to be part of, contact them, purchase their costumes, or t-shirts and dance through the streets with your chosen band.

    Mas Bands Batabano Carnival

    batabano carnival

    The best way to enjoy Batabano is to join in and play mas! We highly recommend playing mas for the ultimate Batabano experience. How to choose a Mas Band? Well that’s a difficult decision because you have so many good options. The Batabano Carnival mas bands are:

    • Más Azúcar: This is a new Mas Band Batabano Carnival. It offers a Latin fusion carnival. This is the band to join if you want to experience an explosion of salsa, reggaetón, merengue and soca. To join this band contact Mas Azucar at info@masazucar.com 324-9199
    • Renegade Mas: This band is only in their second year of carnival and they are growing more popular. Renegade mas is an explosion of colors, festivity and Caribbean Carnival To join this band contact Renegade Masinfo@renegademas.com
    • Local Carnival Mas Band: This mas band is owned by two young local Caymanians whose vision for this band is all about expressing the natural beauty of the Cayman Island and spirit of
    • Fenomenal: Sharon Ebanks who is the leader of this mas band, has been participating in the carnival ever since the very first ever Batabano Parade back in 1983! Passionate about Batabano she will be launching this new mas band in the 2019 Batabano Parade. To join contact Sharon Ebanks at fenomenalmasband@gmail.com
    • Kaotic Mas Band: This mas band is another new band to join the Batabano parade in 2019. The aim of this band is to provide you with an absolute first class experience for all masquerades! To join this parade contact Pearlina McGaw-Lumsden  1 345-925-6151
    • Revel Unit: This mas band is filled with soca-loving like minded people who are all about living life and having lots of fun whilst playing mas. To join this band contact https://www.revelunit.com revelunit@gmail.com
    • Illusions Cayman: Illusions is a new and growing mas band that was established in 2018. It first began as a small sized T-shirt band and actually came in 3rd place in the Batabano Street Parade. To join this band contact Illusions Cayman at illusionscayman@gmail.com  345-939-7292
    • Fresh Carnival: This mas band won the Band of the Year in 2016 and 2017, and is proud to provide people from all over the world to come and join in. To join in please contact Olujimi olujimilapierre@gmail.com  345-927-5703
    • Party Animals: This is mainly a T-shirt band but also has a “fete-ish” costume They aim to offer the most entertaining and fun masquerading experience. To join their band contact Richard Jackson partyanimals345@gmail.com  345-321-5766
    • Tribal Carnival Cayman: This is the winning masquerade band of 2018! Tribal has been participating in carnival since 2007 and has been participating in Batabano ever since. To join contact Dexter Seusahai tribal.carnivalcsr@gmail.com
    🇺🇸 Miami Carnival

    Batabano Music

    Batabano features a lot of Caribbean music like soca, calypso, reggae and it typically will have elements of soul. The lyrics usually express what life is like or talk about political or social issues. This feeds into the idea that Batabano is all about celebrating social justice.

    Batabano Costumes

    batabano carnival

    Batabano is famous for its colorful, vibrant and extravagant costumes. The Masquerade Bands that use costumes as the key feature of their performances. Both the Junior and Adult Batabano Parades hand out rewards for the best costumes.

    Men’s costumes traditionally will include shorts, an impressive feathered headdress as well as jewelled neck pieces and cuffs. Women’s costumes are usually quite sexy and revealing. Often it is a multi-coloured bikini, with a feather headdress, jeweled pieces, and often tail feathers.

    Makeup is an important part of the Batabano costume. It is all about lots of bright colors and glitter. It is an important aspect that is usually used to accent the costumes. Sometimes darker makeup is used to contrast the costumes.

    Where to stay for Batabano Carnival?

    There are plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets from luxury resorts, to guest houses and private rentals! Remember Batabano is very popular and accommodation can be scare and more expensive due to higher demands so book ahead of time.

    Check out Booking.com for some great accommodation deals options

    Book your Hotel and Flight for the Batabano Carnival


    Tips and Tricks for Batabano Carnival

    1. Sun protection: this is essential! You are on a tropical Caribbean island and the parade begins  midday and runs for several hours. So wear loads of sun block because it is hot and you don’t want sunburn ruining your carnival Bring some sunglasses to!
    2. Stay hydrated: Dancing and drinking, or even just standing for a few hours under the hot sun puts you at risk of dehydration. So drink lots of water all day! Bring a water bottle with you.
    3. Good comfy shoes: You will be on your feet for hours so wear comfortable shoes!
    4. Careful of your valuables: Leave important things like passports etc back in your hotel. Get a little bag to carry your cell phone, keys and cash.
    5. Dont forget your camera: You are going to want to take lots of selfies! Plus the crowd’s energy is unreal so you are going to want to capture this day.
    6. Eat a good breakfast! Trust us you are going to want to have lots of energy to last the day jumping around under the hot sun, or even if you’re just watching.
    7. Get there early: If you are just going to be a spectator then get their early to get a good spot and bring some beach chairs with you and even a cooler. Park along the parade route and enjoy.
    🇧🇸 Junkanoo Bahamas

    Where do I purchase tickets for Batabano Carnival?

    It is free to watch the parade. If you want to join a mas band you will need to contact that group and purchase their outfit. The same for J’ouvert you will need to purchase a t-shirt to be part of the celebrations.

    How to get to Grand Cayman?

    batabano carnival

    There are only two ways to get here and that is to fly or by boat. Owen Roberts International Airport is Cayman’s main airport with flights from North America and the UK.

    Major international carriers British Airways, American Airlines and the local Cayman Airways have flights to Cuba, Jamaica and  Honduras.

    Hundreds of cruise ships stop in George Town. As there are no deep-water port facilities they will shuttle passengers to shore using frequent tenders. You can see what cruises will be in the Cayman during carnival by visiting the Cayman Port Authority (www.caymanport.com).

    How to get around Grand Cayman?

    Grand Cayman is easy to get around and you have a lot of options to get you around the island. Your best option is to hire a rental car. Remember though they drive on the left hand side of the road so if you are not comfortable with this there are plenty of taxi services or public buses you can take.

    What to do and see in Grand Cayman?

    batabano carnival

    Grand Cayman is a stunning part of the world. White sand, crystal clear water, swaying palm trees, fresh seafood, tasty rum. You can relax on the beach, enjoy a cocktail or you can have some more adventure and enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking the jungle and so much more.

    🇮🇹 Venice Carnival

    Georgetown, the capital of the Cayman Islands and where carnival takes place is known internationally as being a financial haven. It is also the first port of call for cruise ship passengers. It is famous for duty free shopping with loads of luxury shops catering to the wealthy. It also has a lot of historical charm and great bars, restaurants and cafes.

    Seven Mile Beach is the most iconic beach on Grand Cayman island. Situated close to Georgetown, the beach is always quite busy and bustling, but it’s the seven miles of tropical sunshine and white sand that make this beach popular. You can walk along the beach or stop along it and enjoy something to eat and drink.

    Top Tours on Viator in Grand Cayman here.

    Carnivaland recommends tours, events and accommodation based on our extensive experience and knowledge of them. We may earn affiliate commission from affiliate links in this article. Read more about our policy.


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