The island of Grenada blossoms with many unique cultural practices and expressions. Throughout the year, locals and visitors look forward to being a part of the annual carnival celebration. Being a highly anticipated event, thousands from the tri-isle state and around the region gather to celebrate this spectacular event. The carnival season extends from early June and gradually increases its tempo with many cultural events, leading up to its climax early in the month of August.
Welcome to the Carnival Vibe.
Grenada’s Carnival lends itself to both adults and children. The 2013 celebrations was launched on June 1, various activities can be enjoyed by all. After months of anticipation, the heart of the season makes its first official beat on June 30 with the Bomb Tune Competition and Junior Pan Competition. From July 4 to July 7 a series of quarterfinal Soca Monarch competitions will be held in St. Mark, St. Patrick, and St. David.
The tempo of Grenada’s Carnival begins to increase as participants from various competitions narrows down. The Calypso finalist will be chosen between July 17 and 22, while the finalist for the Soca Monarch competition will be chosen on July 26 in St. Andrew. A display of Traditional Mas (Short Knee) is expected to step up the pace at an exhibition in St. Mark on July 27.
Grenada’s musical talent will be showcased on the night of July 28 during the Calypso Monarch Semi-finals. The islands most talented poets compose their musical pieces and compete with each other for a place in the Calypso Monarch finals. The lyrical content of the songs is of major importance when being judged and the audience look forward to hearing the views of the composers on issues affecting the nation which is highlighted in their renditions.
Following the preludes, the first of the weeklong celebrations kicks off with fun for the nation’s children at the Kiddie’s Carnival, on Saturday August 3. The children take great pleasure in expressing their love for this joyful celebration. Ranging in age up to 16, they perform on stage, dancing to the sound of Soca, Calypso and Still Pan Music, while being supervised by their parents or guardian.
The stunning and exotic beauty, and talent, of the island’s women would normally be displayed during the Carnival Queen Show on the Thursday of the week of celebrations, in categories of cultural performance, costume and evening gown wear. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, this event will not be held this year however it is expect to return for the 2014 celebrations.
On August 9 patrons of the Soca Monarch Competition will be treated to the best of the year’s Soca music as the artistes perform their best tunes. This is a very popular event and along with other criteria, the response of the crowd contributes to the score awarded by the judges.
The following night, August 10, pan lovers gather for the Steel Pan Competition and it is truly amazing to both listen and watch as the players put their all into their performance, after a great many practice sessions, hoping to walk away with the top prize.
Not to be missed is the Dimanche Gras Competition on the night of August 11. This competition is often considered the cream of the crop and will see the top calypso singers thrilling the audience with the best of the seasons tunes, some quite scandalous, as they vie to be crowned the best of the best and sets the mood for the early morning J’Ouvert on August 12, which, along with the Carnival Pageant, Monday Night Mas and the Parade of the Bands, is the pinnacle of the season.
Hours before the sun rises on the Spice Isle, in several towns, locals as well as visitors who have travelled many miles to enjoy the celebrations, converge at their designated locations to prepare for the J’Ouvert event. Drenched in oil, molasses, coloured paints, motor oil, grease creosote or mud, the masqueraders (known locally as Jab Jab) flood the streets; dancing to the rhythm of sweet Soca music. However, it is to be noted that in the town of St George, the event begins at 7 am.
J’Ouvert is a great display of the blend of Grenada’s African, Indian and European heritage; it’s a time when everyone let’s go of their everyday stress and go with the rhythm of the music. In addition to the Jab Jabs you will find ‘old Mas’ on the street, these are masqueraders with a story to tell (quite often of a political nature) and will dress in costumes to suit with placards on their person which helps to tell their story.
The J’Ouvert celebration usually continues until approximately mid-day though after partying for most of the preceding night, many begin to flag hours before and make tracks for home.
Directly following J’Ouvert celebrations, a sneak peak of what would be in store for Carnival Tuesday will be on display. Participants for pageant come out in their full colours to show off their costumes in the pageant. Following the pageant, many who participated or observed the day’s celebrations usually head home for a few hours rest, to hit the streets once again to perform (jump) in a band in the Monday Night Mas celebration.
Monday Night Mas
Following the very busy day time schedule revellers will see the night skies illuminated by the selected coloured lights of various bands which will flood the streets of St. George. Band members will dance to the sound of Soca music while, showcasing their unique T-shirt costume packages, prepared weeks prior to the event. As the multitude parade in the band of their choice through the streets, the carnival spirit will fill the hearts of everyone, even those simply looking on.
The last day of the festivities (last lap) is a time when everyone, young and old, is able to enjoy the carnival spirit. The day begins at mid-day and sees the streets lined with persons, eagerly looking out for friends and relatives jumping in the bands, exhibiting a range of colourful costumes, each section of each band telling its unique story. While some head home after the last band has passed the last of several judging points, others remain to either look on and party at the bars set up on the streets for the duration of the festivities, or follow the bands dancing in the street until well after dark.
When the last of the festivities is over the carnival spirit will on through several parties and concerts meant to entertain persons whose energy levels have not been depleted. The year’s Soca and Calypso music will still be heard at parties and on the radio for months to come and the really good tunes will stay with us for years to come.
We welcome the involvement of all and look forward to partying with you at this fun filled time in our events calendar. Be sure to join us and be a part of the excitement!