🇭🇹 Haiti Carnival

Haiti’s carnival is the largest cultural event in this Caribbean country, with three days full of joy, dances, parades, comparsas and very striking costumes.

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    When is Haiti Carnival 2021?

    Haiti, like many Caribbean countries, celebrates Carnival on Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, so its date may vary between February and March.

    In 2021, the celebration is scheduled to take place on February 16, but in January, the joy is already alive, as the Pre-Kanaval is held, where music and dances related to the season cannot be missing.

    What is the Haiti Carnival?

    haiti carnival

    The Haitian carnival is influenced by local cultures and highlights elements such as religious rituals that include voodoo and Haitian music, which has crossed borders and is very peculiar, because you can feel the mixture of ethnic groups.

    When February arrives, the residents of Port-au-Prince, the city where the date is celebrated in a big way, take to the streets and do not return home until Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday.

    The bands and parades can’t be missing for this date, the locals prepare large floats to which they install a sound system to transmit the excitement of the party and encourage everyone to join in as they make their way through the streets.

    Haiti’s carnival is held to present comedy plays, often satires on political issues, where they criticize the government’s management and highlight the island’s shortcomings, which are accentuated by the natural disasters that have befallen them on multiple occasions.

    For this date there are food stands offering snacks, grills and rum, which is indispensable for this celebration, where people enjoy a few days uninhibited and live them in great style.

    Local bands have a space in this festival, as they carry out competitions among them, where genres such as zouk, rap kreyòl rap, konpa and mizik rasin can’t be missed.

    The parades make their way through the streets of Port-au-Prince and end with celebrations at the large plaza, Champ de Mars, located across from the Palais national (National Palace), the former residence of Haiti’s president, it is a place where both residents of the island and tourists interested in experiencing firsthand one of the most important dates in Haiti are concentrated.

    How is Haiti Carnival celebrated?

    haiti carnival

    Although the carnival traditionally takes place before Ash Wednesday, in January the Pre-Kanaval is celebrated, which is a preview of everything that will be experienced in the days to come. For this warm-up, parades are also held and residents dress up as different characters, so the atmosphere is already set for the party in February or March, depending on the calendar.

    When the carnival arrives, Sunday is the unofficial start of the event, as the inhabitants take to the streets to dance, share, drink and exhibit their costumes, which are designed with anticipation.

    The Haitian carnival is mainly financed by the government and wealthy Haitian families, as the socio-economic conditions of the island do not allow anyone to contribute financially to the event.

    Receiving contributions from the government makes the celebration show political aspects, which generates annoyance in many residents, who have been able to express their discontent through music, as there are merengues (traditional Haitian genre) that talk about issues such as corruption and the behavior of the leaders who have been in charge of the country.

    Despite the fact that Haiti is an island with great social inequalities, when carnival arrives, everyone comes together and shares with joy and excitement, and sorrows and pain are put aside.

    Although this is the traditional carnival of Haiti, there are other celebrations that take place throughout the year, such as Rara, which takes place during Lent and consists of processions that take place during the day and sometimes at night, where musicians play drums, trumpets and other instruments.

    At Rara’s celebration, people can be seen dressed up as Queens, presidents, colonels, among other colorful characters.

    Rara’s parades have religious overtones, as the dancers follow male voodoo leaders, who make stops at crossroads, cemeteries and the homes of community leaders.

    The Carnaval des Fleurs and the Koudyay are other celebrations that were promoted by former presidents of Haiti, in order to distract the people and make them forget the economic and political problems they were going through at the time. Amazing!

    Where is the Haiti Carnival?

    haiti carnival

    Haiti’s most important carnival is held in Port-au-Prince, which is the capital and largest city on the island, but smaller festivals are also held in Jacmel and Aux Cayes.

    The participants parade through the streets of the city until they reach the National Palace, where the most important celebration of the Caribbean island comes to an end.

    After Port-au-Prince, Jacmel is the favorite city to experience the carnival, as it is also celebrated with great joy and the costumes made by local artists with papier-mâché are striking.

    The climate in Port-au-Prince varies between 25ºC from January and 32ºC from June, so when visiting in February you will enjoy a great climate. Great!!

    Origins of the Haiti Carnival

    haiti carnival

    The large official public celebration of carnival in Haiti started in 1804 in the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, so it has many years of history, changes, anecdotes and memories that are sometimes shared by the longest-lived people on the island.

    Haitian Protestants saw this celebration as sinful, as they said they performed sexually suggestive dances, plays full of blasphemy and songs where they mocked the authorities, which is still done to this day.

    Haiti’s carnival was marked by the French slaves who arrived in Trinidad and Tobago, because they could not participate in the party, so they decided to make it among themselves in their tents, which they called Calypso, which is known today as a genre that is heard for the date.

    From Trinidad, this celebration spread to different islands of the Caribbean, which is still preserved to this day and is becoming more and more lively, as other musical bands have been founded and have contributed to give joy to the parades. Wonderful!

    Haiti Carnival 2021 Schedule

    haiti carnival

    So far, it is not known whether the carnival of Haiti 2021 will be held, as the island is in a significant economic instability caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, which left many informal employees without a livelihood, which abound in Haiti.

    In addition, elections are scheduled for 2021, as the legislative elections are pending, which were postponed in 2019, so the government’s attention is focused on this. Let’s wait!

    How to get to Haiti?

    Haiti borders the Dominican Republic, so you can reach the island by car or plane, depending on your preference and availability.

    • By plane: The island has two international airports, which are: Toussaint Louverture International Airport and Cap-Haïtien International Airport, the first one is located in Port-au-Prince and the second one in Cap-Haïtien, you will only need a vehicle to get there.
    • By car: Jimani is a town located in the Dominican Republic that borders Haiti and is close to the Mal Paso border post. To enter by this route, it is necessary to have a permit from the Dominican government, which does not take three days to be processed.

    Although the Dominican Republic offers this option, they do not recommend it, as the level of insecurity on the road is high, since this limit is used for the Fuel smuggling.

    Where to stay in Haiti?

    Resting in the Caribbean is amazing, that’s why we present you a list of the best hotels in Haiti, so you can have a complete experience and remember it with pleasure:

    • Hotel Royal Oasis: From the rooms of the Hotel Royal Oasis you have a spectacular view of the city of Port-au-Prince, which will make you feel in a paradise without leaving your bed.
    • It has two hotels and bars where you can enjoy a extensive variety of dishes, tapas and drinks. Don’t miss it!
    • Servotel: You can feel the modern in each space of the Servotel, and comfort and convenience is part of what it offers to each of its visitors.
    • 15 minutes away is the emblematic National Palace, where the end of the carnival is held. Wonderful!
    • Hotel Villa Therese: Just 7 km from Port-au-Prince’s international airport you can find the Hotel Villa Therese, where you can enjoy an outdoor swimming pool and a garden that has no comparison. Visit it!
    • Karibe Hotel: at the Karibe Hotel you will find a spa adapted to provide the best massages and beauty and health treatments, as well as a convention center where you can hold any event you wish, ensuring you will have the privacy and security you need. Wow!
    • La Maison Hotel: just 1.5 km from Port-au-Prince’s international airport, you will find La Maison Hotel, a space full of privacy and security, ideal for resting after a day as exhausting as those experienced during Carnival.

    What to do and see at the carnival in Haiti?

    haiti carnival

    Haiti is not only alive for the celebration of carnival, it is also visited to know its sites of great tourist importance but also keep the history of this spectacular island.

    • Galerie d’Art Nader: this gallery houses the largest collection of Haitian art in the world, with over 17,000 works, all authentic and of great interest.
    • Fort Jacques: is one of the oldest and most preserved forts in the country, which is surrounded by a dense forest with picnic tables in the shade of its trees to rest after the tour.
    • Museo del panteón nacional haitiano: the central theme of this museum is the heroes of Haiti’s independence, which is why they seek to maintain and disseminate the history of those who defended their land thousands of years ago.

    Is it a safe city?

    Haiti is currently experiencing a high level of insecurity, so the authorities recommend traveling with great caution and always without valuables.

    Avoid the use of public transportation and motorcycle cabs, as they are not safe for residents or foreigners, and always keep your family informed of the activities to be carried out daily. Be careful!

    What to eat in Haiti?

    The gastronomy is an element that Haiti has been able to keep over the years, despite the events that it has had to live, such as earthquakes, so we recommend the best places where you can experience the history of this island in a dish.

    • The View: the diversity in international food can be found at The View, where everyone who visits it lives an unique experience, which they want to repeat at any time, in addition, it has a highly qualified staff to meet the needs of its diners.
    • Portofino: Portofino offers each of its customers the best in international dishes but with high quality local products. Dare to try them!
    • Gingerbread Restaurant: Haitian culture is tasted in every dish served at Gingerbread Restaurant, from fried pork to meatballs, which will make your taste buds explode with sensations. Sounds good!
    • Haiku: If you love Asian food, you can enjoy it at Haiku, where they offer everything from sushi to shrimp, including teriyaki chicken. Delicious!

    There is no doubt that Haiti has it all, from the most fun carnivals to the best historical sites and special dishes, be sure to visit!

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