Travel Inspiration: Caribbean Carnivals
Worry not! There is a Caribbean carnival out there for every type of traveler.
1. For the First-Timer
If navigating the ruckus of Carnival sounds overwhelming, Curacao's got you. The Dutch island organizes a tame, tourist-friendly parade right through the heart of downtown Willemstad. Must-see events include the Grand Parade, the crowning of the king and queen and the ceremonial burning of Momo, a large straw-filled doll that represents bad luck and sin. If the idea of baring it all isn't your thing, the more conservative costumes are a great family-friendly alternative to popular outfits on other islands.
2. For the Family
Grand Cayman is a great, family-friendly destination, and Carnival time is no exception. The Cayman Islands national Carnival event, Batabano, is a vibrant celebration of the island's rich culture and turtle-loving heritage. In its 16th year, the festival's Junior Batabano on April 28 features a children's street parade and Family Fun Day with mask decorating and colorful stilt walkers.
3. For the History Buff
Carnival in Barbados takes another form as Crop Over. The festival celebrates a 200-year-old tradition that honors the end of the sugar cane season and includes indigenous arts and crafts, calypso, flower festivals and folk concerts. During all the revelry, make time to visit Mount Gay Rum, the world's oldest rum producer, and learn about the history of rum.
4. For the Holiday Traveler
If you love to get away for Christmas and New Year, head to the Bahamas for sun, sand and Junkanoo. The celebration features colorful parades with Goombay drums, vibrant, feathered costumes and massive dance troupes with hundreds of dancers. If you're not a morning person, grab a large cup of coffee before heading to downtown Nassau for these early morning dance performances. Festivities typically start around two in the morning!
5. For the Party Animal
Trinidad is the birthplace of Caribbean Carnival and though dozens of other islands have adopted the holiday, it's still the biggest celebration. It's also the wildest party around. If you're looking for an early spring break, you'll love the all-day and all-night revelry in Port of Spain.
6. For the Foodie
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Maria, the U.S. Virgin Islands might not be at the top of your travel list, but now, more than ever, the islands need tourism. Celebrate Carnival while supporting St. Thomas from March 31 to April 28. The island's month-long festivities include pageantry, dance and music, but the highlight is the savory cuisine. Don't miss the food fair showcasing local eats and artisan crafts or Carnival Village for nightlife and local cocktails.
7. For the Music Lovers
St. Vincent's Carnival celebration, Vincy Mas, kicks off in May but parties go all the way through July. There's music everywhere, from steel drum street music to calypso to Caribbean soca. Don't miss the Mardi Gras parade of bands competing for the coveted "Band of the Year" title.
8. For the Obscure Traveler
If you're a veteran Carnival-er and want something different, head to Carriacou in the Grenadines for Shakespeare Mas. The unique event at Carriacou Carnival can't be found anywhere else in the world. Revelers and thespians engage in a battle of wits, using only Shakespearean verse.