There are a number of carnival parades that take place around the world, from Mardi Gras in New Orleans to Notting Hill in London, that can trace their roots back to the Caribbean, and it is here that without doubt the biggest and best events still take place each year, with a carnival season spread over several weeks across the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, and culminating in 2 full days of parades.
If you only go to one Caribbean Carnival in your lifetime then this would have to be the choice, combining the fantastic weather conditions and clear blue seas with some of the friendliest and most welcoming local people anywhere on the planet, in a party that just goes on and on! One thing is for certain, you need plenty of stamina to even think about attending the T&T Carnival parades.
Carnival Monday and Tuesday are the climax of the event, with the parade of the bands, where as well as entertaining the crowds the bands are in competition with each other to win the prestigious Band of the Year title. As well as the parade the event is characterised by calypso tents, big public fetes and new band launches.
During the parades, as well as the bands there are a number of large trucks with DJs and their full equipment pumping out all varieties of Caribbean flavoured music and everyone taking part dresses in fantastic traditional costumes - all in all, a festival of noise and colour that will live in your memory for a very long time!
There are a number of things going on around the islands in the weeks leading up to the main carnival, but these are the main headline events:
Calypso Fiesta National Calypso Monarch
National Junior Panorama Finals
Monday 1 February
National Junior Calypso Monarch Final, 10am at Queens Park
Tuesday 2 February
Queens and Kings Senior Semis
Reenactment of Camboulay Riot at Piccadilly Greens, Port of Spain, 4am
Big Friday at Queens Park Savannah, 7pm
Dragon Festival, George and Prince St corner, 10am
Republic band Junior Parade of the Bands
National Panorama Final, Medium and Large
Sunday 7 February:
Dimanche Gras, Kings & Queens of Carnival Finals, Queen's Park Savannah, start time 7pm
Monday 8 February:
J'Ouvert, Downtown Port of Spain from 3am; Lineup to follow
Parade of Bands at Queens Park Savannah (Carnival Monday version) at 11am
Monday Night Mas, Paramin Hill, 8pm
Tuesday 9 February:
Parade of Bands for Carnival Tuesday, Adam Smith Square, 7am
The main parades take place through Port of Spain, although there are also large events in San Fernando. It has been announced that in Port of Spain the parade routes are now designed specifically to try and help ease traffic congestion and long waiting times, especially in the areas around Queen's Park Savannah.
For the full schedule of Trinidad carnival events throughout January and February, including all the main parties and parades, check out the excellent listings here.
There is increasingly becoming more online streaming coverage of the T&T or TNT carnival as internet access and speeds continue to improve.
Some of the best coverage of the main carnival parades can be found via the government funded TV4 channel, which in previous years has had full coverage of both Carnival Monday and Tuesday, so we expect to see this again in 2016:
There is also a live online stream now available for the CTNT World channel, which has been streaming many of the earlier carnival events too, inclduing the Panorama finals and the Kings and Queens events:
For radio coverage you can also tune into Talk City 91.1 based in Port of Spain, which will have live coverage from most of the main carnival parades, not quite the same as watching, but better than nothing!
There has in previous years also been webcast carnival coverage via local channels Synergy TV and Gayelle via the JumpTV service, but we haven't been able to track down any links for this year yet - we'll keep checking though!
If you're in Trinidad and Tobago during the carnival and looking for somewhere to stay to attend any of the parades or other events you can check out availability and make reservations for local hotels here.
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