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Carnival Season Kickoff

With Trinidad's Carnival Tuesday recently passing, I thought it'd be a good idea to write a post on the kickoff to carnival season. With one of the biggest Caribbean Carnivals taking place in February, its easy for Trinidad to overshadow all the carnivals happening throughout the month of February and all over the world. It seems it is very common for countries to hold their Carnivals prior to Lent, as a good number of countries are currently celebrating Carnival. Some countries' main festivities are on one or two days and others may be longer, however, these countries may celebrate Carnival not only on the main days, but the weeks leading up to Carnival as well.

Carnival Season was really kicked off with the island of Guadeloupe celebrating from January 7th-February 13th.  Puerto Rico celebrates from February 7th-the 13th. Brazil, which is another famous and extravagant Carnival, takes place February 9th-the 17th. Trinidad and Brazil are two of the biggest carnivals there is and probably the most recognizable and

known. Colombia and Aruba celebrate Carnival from February 10th-the 11th. Curacao and Martinique both start on February 11th, with Curacao ending on the 13th and Martinique ending on the 14th. St. Barts is only one day, February 12th, whereas Trinidad & Tobago, Carriacou and Dominica celebrate from February 12th to the 13th. Haiti Kanaval takes place on February 13th, one day just like St Barts. Guyana celebrates Mashramani on February 23rd, which is the celebration of the birth of the republic. Lastly for the month of February, we have Panama celebrating their Carnival from February 23rd to the 26th. All the dates given for Carnivals are 2018 dates, as the dates tend to change each year. In the month of February alone, 13 countries are celebrating a Carnival.

While a good number of the carnivals are concentrated in February, just before Lent, carnival festivities are present year round in so many different places. For the month of March, only the island of Dominican Republic is celebrating a Carnival. April is home to Jamaica Carnival, taking place April 8th, always after Easter, and is often confused with Jamaica's Dream Week in August.  St Martin & St. Thomas both celebrate carnival in April, with St Martin landing on April 30th and St. Thomas lasting from April into May. Cayman Islands celebrates their carnival May 2nd-8th, while Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival is May 4th to the 8th. And Guyana's official carnival, not to be mistaken with Mashramani, is held May 18th to the 26th. This is a perfect example of  a carnival that last about a week long.

Now the summer months are very popular months for carnival, behind February. Bermuda (Heroes Weekend) kicks off June 15th to the 18th and after is St Vincent & The Grenadines being held from June 29th to July 10th. Another country that celebrates between two months is St. John (U.S Virgin Islands), taking place June -July (dates are tentative). Two carnivals that were wildly unfamiliar to me come next. Cuba's Santiago de Cuba Carnaval is held in July, along with Saba Carnival. Saba is a Caribbean island controlled by the Netherlands in the lesser Antilles. My first time hearing about Saba, was in the writing of the article, so that was pleasant to learn something new. Barbados is also like St. Vincent & St John, in that they celebrate their Cropover Carnival season from July 25th to August 8th. Tortola (British Virgin Islands) also celebrates their carnival in August from the 1st to the 7th. Antigua is during this time as well, falling on August 6th- the 7th. And lastly, for the month of August, Grenada celebrates their SpiceMas Carnival from August 13th to the 14th. In September, as the summer is winding down and winter is approaching, Belize is gearing up to celebrate their carnival. The Holiday season is approaching at this point, so it is quite understandable, that the carnivals are dwindling at this time of the year. However, not before Montserrat and St. Kitts, each celebrate their carnivals from December 26th to January 2nd and St. Croix from December- January 8th. And then we come full circle back to celebrating Guadeloupe and so on.

If traveling overseas isn't your cup of tea or if you simply don't have the time, don't fret, because carnival is prevalent throughout the United States & Canada all year round, just as it is in the Caribbean and South America. A few of the most popular carnival destinations in the States & Canada are Mardi Gras in New Orleans from February 9th to the 13th,  Atlanta Carnival on May 26th, Hollywood Carnival in June, Caribana in Toronto in August, Labor Day in New York on September 3rd and Miami Carnival in October. These are only a few of the many carnivals from New Orleans all the way to Calgary and New York all the way to California. Even more surprising is how widespread carnivals, whether influenced by Caribbean traditions or not, have become, stretching as far as Europe and the Middle East. A few popular European Carnivals you may not have known about is Notting Hill Carnival in Notting Hill, London from August 26th to the 27th, Berlin Karneval der Kulturen in Germany from May 18th to the 21st, Zomer Carnival in Rotterdam from July 27th to July 28th and Dubai Soca Weekender from May 3rd to the 7th.

Despite, the varying traditions and cultures, Carnival is a time for the people of that particular island, country or heritage to come together and celebrate that culture. It's a time to let lose and have fun with your family and friends. Carnivals play such a important role in societies, because the sense of pride and happiness people get from celebrating their heritage and culture is one of a kind. To those on the outside, carnival may seem like fun and games, but it the ultimate celebration of your culture and its deep-rooted traditions, whatever it may be and. And that type of celebration is universal, as you can see by the amount of carnivals present throughout the world.

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