Pumping rhythms, sexy costumes and people dancing under the warm Caribbean sun – welcome to Saint Lucia Carnival! Almost on the heels of the annual Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival which is held in May, Saint Lucia’s cultural landscape morphs into a flurry of chrome plated steel drums, feathers, and beads. No matter where you are or who you are, Saint Lucia Carnival is something to behold.
In the months, weeks and hours leading up to Saint Lucia Carnival, there are numerous events that are a must see, whether you’re a Carnival veteran, or a Carnival newbie. Some of the staple events – the Calypso Tents, Calypso Monarch, Party Monarch, and Carnival Parade – are the deep-rooted cultural aspects of Saint Lucia Carnival. But it won’t be Carnival without the ‘wining’ and jumping and non-stop partying. Many of the costumed bands hold fetes throughout the weeks leading up to the grand finale of the Festival and this is an ideal option for the partygoer who prefers not to partake in the activities on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
An extravaganza of dazzling costumes, lively musical cadences, and gyrating dance movements, Carnival is a tradition that epitomizes the free spirit of the Saint Lucian people in a pageantry of artistic expression. The preliminary contests begin in June as singers vie for the various titles. Soca personalities belt out pulsating and rhythmic songs, while Calypsonians address more serious subjects such as political folly and social faux pas, albeit with a satirical twist. Panorama sparks the battle of the bands as the steel pan groups present vivacious, yet complex arrangements. The crowning of the National Carnival Queen heralds in the two days of the Carnival finale in July. The costumed bands each reflecting an inspired theme, hit the streets of Castries in exceptional sequence, glitter and a kaleidoscope of brilliant colour. Watching this spectacular procession of revellers as they ‘wine’ to the beats of road march will definitely get your feet tapping and your hips swaying as you lose yourself in the sheer merriment that is Saint Lucia Carnival.
The ultimate Carnival experience is when one joins a “band.” Competing band members flock together at predetermined locations near the staging area, for the beginning of what will be a hyperactive dance session through the city’s streets. With speakers the size of warehouse refrigerators, the vibrations and sounds begin with only the trance of soca leading you throughout the streets of the capital.
If you’re still alive at the end of Carnival Monday, many band members will go off to enjoy official band parties or you can opt to go home to revitalise yourself. But don’t worry – you can comfort yourself by the fact that the next day is Carnival Tuesday…