The Best Caribbean Carnivals!

Here are ten awesome carnival celebrations in the Caribbean

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival

10 caribbean carnivals

What is carnival in Trinidad and Tobago?

There is a Trinidadian expression that says the locals never stop thinking about carnival. That is because Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is the most well-known Caribbean Carnival celebration in the world! In fact, most other Caribbean Carnivals were modelled after carnival in Trinidad!

Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago is an explosion of colour, costumes, soca, calypso and steel pan bands. Their massive masquerade bands procession has been called the “greatest street parade in the world” because absolutely nothing can rival the euphoria, energy and stunning spectacle of this procession that is filled with pulsating music, colourful costumes.

The locals have an unparalled stamina for partying, the rum never stops flowing and the whole island lets loose for carnival. 

Read Our Ultimate Guide to Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. 

Crop Over, Barbados

10 caribbean carnivals

What is carnival in Barbados?

Crop Over in the Bahamas is an all summer long carnival celebration that culminates in the biggest day of partying which is always the first Monday in August. It is one of the oldest carnival celebrations in the Caribbean that dates all the way back to the 16th century! The celebration began after they used to host big celebrations to signal the end of Crop Over.

The celebrations have been made famous as Barbados’s biggest superstar Rihanna always makes an appearance. The carnival is an energetic and colourful spectacle that is full of street parties and parades. It is the Grand Kadooment which is the highlight of this carnival which is a mas band parade full of colourful costumes. The party continues long into the night on Brighton beach with lots of music, food, drinking and fireworks.

Read our ultimate guide to Crop Over. here 

Junkanoo, The Bahamas

10 caribbean carnivals

What is carnival in the Bahamas?, What is Junkanoo?

Junkanoo is a four-day carnival celebration that takes place in the Bahamas. This carnival isn’t a pre-Lenten celebration and instead begins in the early hours of the 26th December and runs till New Years day. The carnival has grown so popular that they hold a summertime Junkanoo as well now.

Junkanoo is all about showcasing Bahamian culture and it is all about celebrating life and embracing your heritage with dancing, music and joy. There are two street parades which occur on Boxing Day and again on New Year’s Day. They are both large street celebrations full of music, dance, costumes and large crowds of lively carnival-goers.

Read Our Ultimate Guide to Junkanoo Carnival here.

Aruba Carnival

10 caribbean carnivals

What is carnival in Aruba?

Aruba has been called the happiest island in the world! This statement is heightened during carnival! Carnival in this tiny island nation is the most anticipated event of the year as well and the biggest party of the year. 

Aruba Carnival goes for a whole month full of street parties, parades, music competitions and is one of the most fun carnivals in the Caribbean.

Read our ultimate guide to Aruba Carnival here. 

Notting Hill Carnival

tips notting hill

Notting Hill Carnival is the largest street party in the whole of Europe. Notting Hill Carnival is the most chaotic and colourful event to take place in London. Every year over two million people attend this two-day celebration of Caribbean culture.

Unlike other local festivals Notting Hill Carnival has absolutely nothing to do with English culture. Nor is it a part of the religious carnival season associated with Catholic Lent. Instead Notting Hill Carnival is a Caribbean Carnival that celebrates London’s Afro-Caribbean community.

Notting Hill Carnival first began in 1966 and has been held annually ever since. The carnival is organised by key members of London’s West Indian and Afro-Caribbean community.

Notting Hill Carnival is the time of year when the whole of London comes together. Notting Hill Carnival embraces unity and cultural diversity. It doesn’t matter what your age, race, country or culture is, everyone is welcome at Notting Hill Carnival!.

Read our ultimate guide to Notting Hill Carnival here. 

Anguilla Summer Festival

anguilla summer festival

Anguilla Summer Festival is the biggest holiday on the island and is even more celebrated and beloved then Christmas! Anguilla’s Summer Festival is a cultural extravaganza and this year will celebrate a 45 year tradition of boats, bacchanal and beach parties that engulf the island every summer!

The Anguilla Summer Festival is a typical Caribbean emancipation celebration. Its roots are in decades of African influenced old traditional Monday fairs, Baazars and old time Christmas festivities, which features many cultural expressions of island life.

Anguilla Summer Festival is a typical reflection of contemporary Caribbean Carnivals. By day the celebrations are filled with beach parties, boat racing, concerts and dancing in the street. The nights are filled with parties, concerts and a whole extravaganza of carnival activities!

Read our ultimate guide to Anguilla Summer Festival here. 

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival or Caribana

toronto carnival

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival, also known as Caribana, is an annual Caribbean Carnival Celebration held in Toronto, Canada every summer. Caribana is attended by over a million people and is North America’s largest carnival celebration.

Caribana is dedicated to celebrating Caribbean culture. It is a fusion of all the different and vibrant Caribbean culturesToronto Caribbean Carnival celebrates Caribbean music, cuisine, dance, traditions, costumes and of course revelry. It is an incredible display of visual and performing arts!

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival follows a format that is very similar to the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. However, Caribana has influences from all the different Caribbean islands.

The carnival is still widely known by its old name of Caribana, which was created by mixing together the words Canada and Caribbean.

Read our ultimate guide to the Toronto Caribbean Carnival.

Jamaica Carnival

10 caribbean carnivals

What is carnival in Jamaica?

Carnival in Jamaica occurs during Easter time. The whole island nation gets swept up in carnival spirit and the main centres of Jamaica Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay are overtaken with an electric carnival atmosphere. Jamaica Carnival is a true representation of Caribbean culture.

The home of Reggae music means that the reggae tunes are a big feature of carnival along with the numerous calypso and soca bands. There are loads of soca parties that make this. They have an awesome colourful street parade that rivals any other seen in the Caribbean. It is full of colourful costumes, Caribbean tunes and hip shaking.

Read Our Ultimate Guide to Jamaica Carnival. 

Vincy Mas, St Vincent and the Grenadines  

10 caribbean carnivals

What is carnival in St Vincent and the Grenadines?, What is Vincy Mas?

Vincy Mas is a spectacular mid-summer carnival celebration that is full of Caribbean music and tradition. It is an incredibly lively and colourful carnival filled with six straight days of street parties and parades. Vincy Mas actually begins in May and the carnival celebrations keep going all the way till July.

The event has some wild street parties including their J’ouvert and Mardi Gras. There are also loads of entertaining events including the Soca Monarch Competition, the Junior Pan Fest and Miss Carnival to name a few. Of course, the most prestigious and sought after is the mas band parade where bands compete to be named Band of the Year. The big Mardi Gras Parade of the Bands is the highlight of Carnival that is full of awesome Caribbean music and colourful costumes.

Martinique Carnival

10 caribbean carnivals

What is carnival in Martinique?

Carnival in Martinique is a pre-Lenten celebration that doesn’t actually stop on Ash Wednesday. Not only that, but Martinique also throws a mid-Lenten celebration which revives the carnival spirit only three weeks after carnival is over. So, when they say a local expression of “Don’t stop the carnival!” They really mean it in Martinique.The carnival motto in Martinique is “rejoice today, repent tomorrow because it is richly deserved.” Which sums up carnival in Martinique because it is full of grand parades, street parties and lots of Caribbean music.

On Ash Wednesday they host the famous La Fête des Diablesses or in English the day of the She-Devils. To close carnival they burn the carnival king, who takes all the blame for any wrong doing that occurred during carnival.

Spicemas, Grenada

10 caribbean carnivals

What is carnival in Grenada?

Carnival in Grenada known as Spiecemas is a pre-Lenten celebration that got moved to the middle of summer a couple of years ago. Grenada occurs in August and it is really hot and steamy and not just because it takes place in the middle of summer. Carnival in Spicemas is said to be true to its roots, uncommercialized and full-blooded.

Spicemas has everything you would expect from a Caribbean island, colourful costumes, soca music, rum and a lot of hip-gyrating. A unique event of Spicemas is Shortknee which is a mask-wearing fear that is a combination of traditions from Africa and Europe. You also have go to experience Jab Jab, a form of Carnival bacchanalia. 

Jacmel Kanaval, Haiti

10 caribbean carnivals

What is carnival in Haiti?

Carnival in Haiti is a beautiful window into Haitian culture. It is a very unique culture that occurs in the seaside town of Jacmel. Jacmel is known for being a creation region of Haiti that is home to lots of artisans who specialise in papier-mache. Karnaval is their time to shine and they create the most amazing creations for their carnival.

The costumes that are actually seen during Jacmel Kanaval are quite grotesque and more fantasy inspired. You will see dragons, mythical creatures, disfigured beasts, and lots of masks with distorted faces that parade the streets. There are a lot of Voodoo references because of the strong African roots Haiti has.

St. Kitts and Nevis National Carnival

10 caribbean carnivals

What is carnival in St Kitts?

Carnival in St Kitts is a unique celebration that combines both African and European folkloric traditions. Carnival is actually celebrated in the month of December when Christmas rituals mix with African traditions.

As a result, this carnival has transformed into a lively spectacle full of colour. There are lots of parades, parties, costume contests, beauty pageants and the prestigious music events to find the Soca Monarch.

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