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The Greatest Show!


Ins & Outs of Trinidad & Tobago

October 29, 2020

Top Image: JabJab. Photo: Ziad Joseph

The Carnival season is the tune-up, rebalancing and release that should be mandatory for all human beings. You can try to stand on the sidelines to witness ‘the greatest show on earth’ but you won’t last long; being a spectator is probably the initial intent but it’s all madly infectious.

J'Ouvert / Parade of Bands

The final two days of ultimate celebration: choose your J'Ouvert band, slap on the mud and revel in the abandonment on the nation’s pre-dawn streets. Then it’s onto the big one. ‘Pretty Mas’ is the beaded, sequined, feathered festival that raves on for two days, culminating with ‘Las Lap’ on Carnival Tuesday evening. Enjoy!

J'Ouvert. Photo: Nicholas Bhajan
Carnival Tuesday‘ on the Stage’. Photo: Devi Nath Photography

Canboulay Riots

Early on Carnival Friday the re-enactment of the riots begins with the drumming and tamboo bamboo in the heart of Port of Spain. This pageantry is the bedrock of the entire festival.

Canboulay Riots Portrayal. Photo: Maria Nunes


Every conceivable type of party caters for your needs, with every weekend from the 1st January before it ramps up to several every night in the final two weeks of the season! From all-inclusives to intimate settings; the common thread is soca music, camaraderie and a guaranteed great time.  

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Everything is centred on progressing to the semis and finals of the Panorama steelpan competition, making judging nights the most popular occasion to visit the panyards. Bands practise most evenings so drop into the nearest yard and listen to the skills being honed. Before you know it, you’ve become a devotee to that band.

HADCO Phase II Pan Groove. Photo: Maria Nunes

Kiddies Carnival

With a few warm-up events in the weeks leading up to Carnival weekend, the kids takeover the streets and stages culminating in their ‘big one’ on the final Saturday. If a child’s joy is infectious, then be prepared to catch the fever when they “jump-up” to the music.

Kiddies Carnival. Photo: Devi Nath Photography

King & Queen of Carnival

The Queen’s Park Savannah stage is resplendent with the brilliance of costume making to the nth degree as band leaders vie for the coveted crowns, with their elaborately titled works that stun onlookers. This is the personification of creativity on a global scale.

From the Band Moko Sõmõkow. Photo: Maria Nunes

Ole Mas

Stilt-walking Moko Jumbies, Blue Devils, Fire Eaters and Spirits take over the capital on Friday around noon. It is truly macabre, a celebration of T&T folklore highlighted by the appearances of spiritual stalwarts such as Papa Bois and the cow-heeled La Diablesse.

Old Time Sailor Mas. Photo: Maria Nunes

Soca Monarch

Also known as ‘Fantastic Friday’ for good reason, this is the official World Championship of Soca. The Hasely Crawford Stadium lights up at 7pm - and sees the finalists portray their songs with special effects, surprise guests and superb performances - until 4am. This is the crowning moment for the songs that have kept you moving all season long.

Dimanche Gras Show. Photo: RAPSO Imaging

Dimanche Gras

The Calypso tradition anoints its champion on Thursday, at the ubiquitous Queen’s Park Savannah stage. Satire is the order of the day but so too is melody. The lyrical content is superb, as is expected from this 80-year-old competition.

Carnival Village

If the Queen’s Park Savannah is the hub for Carnival, then it’s apt that this centre of arts & craft, entertainment and local cuisine is located at the entrance to the staging area. Located on the south- eastern tip of the Savannah, it’s abuzz with visitors daily (and nightly) from the moment it opens five weeks into the season.