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International Caribbean Carnivals


Lifestyle Caribbean

An explosion of colour, music, revelry, and creativity, Trinidad's Carnival has spawned similar celebrations around the world; but nothing on earth can rival the abandon, euphoria and stunning spectacle of our festival.

With its massive masquerade bands, spectacular costumes, pulsating music and unparalleled stamina for partying, Trinidad's Carnival is often described as the greatest show on earth. It is a time for release and everyone is invited to join the party.

Like the cosmopolitan mix of peoples and cultures that shaped the island, Trinidad's Carnival has many influences. The Spanish and English colonial powers, French planters, African slaves, Indian indentured labourers, and the many other ethnic groups that settled here have all left an indelible mark on the festival. In 1783 the French brought their culture, customs and Carnival, in the form of elaborate masquerade balls, to Trinidad along with African slaves. The period stretching between Christmas and the start of Lent was a time for feasting, fancy dress balls and celebration for both the French and British. Banned from the festivities, slaves in the barrack yards would hold their own celebrations mimicking their masters' behaviour while incorporating rituals and folklore. Once slavery was abolished in 1838, the freed Africans took their Carnival to the streets and, as each new immigrant population entered Trinidad, a new flavour was added to the festivities. Today, our diverse culture has influenced the music, food and traditions of Carnival.

Notting Hill Carnival: London, England
Held each August Bank Holiday since 1966, the Notting Hill Carnival is the largest festival celebration of its kind in Europe. Every year the streets of West London come alive, with the sounds and smells of Europe’s biggest street festival.

Starting its life as a local festival set up by the West Indian community of the Notting Hill area, it has now become a full-blooded Caribbean carnival, attracting millions of visitors from all over the globe. With many astonishing floats and the sounds of the traditional steel drum bands, scores of massive sound systems plus not forgetting the hundreds of stalls that line the streets of Notting Hill. The Notting Hill Carnival is arguably London’s most exciting annual event.


Labor Day Parade/West Indian Carnival: New York, United States
In the 1920s, immigrants from Trinidad and other Caribbean islands with a carnival tradition began celebrating Carnival in private spaces in Harlem. These celebrations took place during the traditional pre-Lenten period. In the mid-1940s, Trinidadian Jesse Waddle (sometimes spelled Wattle) organized a street festival held on Labor Day, on 7th Avenue in Harlem. The parade permit for Harlem was revoked in 1964 following a disturbance. Five years later, a committee headed by Carlos Lezama obtained permission to parade on Eastern Parkway. That committee became the West Indian-American Day Carnival Association, now a well-established organization. Lezama headed the organization through many years of growth, retiring at the age of 78 in 2001. His daughter, Yolanda Lezama-Clark, was subsequently elected President.

The end of summer means catching all the color and excitement as millions of New Yorkers line up along Eastern Parkway for the Brooklyn Labor Day parade on Monday, September 7, 2015. This year, the West Indian American Day Parade & Carnival celebrates its 46th anniversary as it continues to enjoy the distinction of being New York City's biggest cultural festivals by far.

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