In mid-February 2023, a small part of the world will represent a big return to exuberance when Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival explodes on to the stages and streets. Dubbed ‘the mother of all carnivals’, the description captures the general acceptance that after the worldwide pandemic, the greatest show on earth, will become even greater. The bacchanal is back!
Pan, Soca Monarch
Pan players have had eons to practise, now as the pan yards are filled once again with fans, critics and spies, their melodic notes will fill the night sky in the preparation for battle of steel that is Panorama.
Sunday 5th February & Saturday 18th February, Queen’s Park Savannah
Keep listening for that first Soca song that will become ‘meh tune’ for the season, the one that raises pores, that speaks to you in a way that no one else can understand. Maybe, just maybe, it will win the Soca Monarch on Fantastic Friday.
Friday 17th February, Hasely Crawford Stadium internationalsocamonarch.com
Eager eyes will be on the lookout for the best clothes and accessories for a season so packed full of action, that it will speed by. Sleep? You can sleep from Ash Wednesday. Old fêtes return, new one’s spring-up; virtual fêting is now relegated to history; thanks for keeping our wining-bones warm, but now it’s time for the real thing. Lights, lasers, water cannons, powder and dye await, depending upon your preference. Fête in the morning, fête in the night, fête on land, fête on a boat. Glamour wear, or water wear, coolers or all-inclusive, perhaps for the sake of variety you will do it all because the constant FOMO (feeling of missing out) - you don’t want to miss an iota of the enjoyment of the season.
2nd January – 19th February
Canboulay, Ole Mas, Kings & Queens
The Canboulay (Cannes Brulées) Riots were an attempt to restrict aspects of traditional Carnival, now, after the pandemic lockdowns, its reenactment on Carnival Friday morning takes on a new hint of poignancy. An apt precursor to the weekend’s explosive events.
Friday 17th February Piccadilly, Port of Spain ncctt.org
Moko Jumbies and Blue Devils await their customary takeover of the land at Carnival Friday’s Ole Mas, the illuminating action of the fire breathers a signal of release, the stilt walking Jumbies a beacon of finally rising above it all. Fri 17th Feb Port ofSpain ncctt.org
Designers will draw upon the world’s emotions throughout the pandemic to conjure up their masterpieces that will be unveiled at the Kings and Queens of Carnival show. The depth of the inspiration brought forth with intricate design, each competitor a complete departure from the next. Part storytelling, part fashion, all creative. T&T may be an independent nation but there is still an annual coronation. Wednesday 15th Feb Queen’s Park Savannahncctt.org
Kiddies Carnival, Calypso
The children, who courageously adapted to the massive change in their young lives now get to celebrate it all, the return to school, to playing outdoors, which is where Kiddies Carnival welcomes them back in their kaleidoscope costumes on the Queen’s Park Savannah stage. The prancers of tomorrow, prancing today.
Saturday 18th February Queen’s Park Savannah ttrcs.org/kiddies-carnival/
Tales will be told over the Carnival weekend, first by the bards that are the Calypsonians, who regaled us with tunes throughout two seasons in lockdown, maintaining the link between the last street Carnival of 2020, the ‘Taste of Carnival’ in 2022 and the full meal awaiting us in 2023. Commentary galore, with a healthy dose of satire and politics, to fulfill their duties as the de facto historians of their era. The Dimanche Gras Show 8pm Sunday Feb 19th Queen’s Park Savannah.
The stories continue into J’Ouvert morning. Placards will provide the explanation while cocoa, clay and paint will provide the anonymity to become – for a few hours at least – a different being. Under the darkness of pre-dawn, the street festival so anticipated for so many months, begins. The first hordes of masqueraders fill the streets, as the ultimate freedom of playing J’Ouvert begins the final two days of the season. This is what everything else has led to, ‘beatingiron’, the rhythm section carrying along its subjects as the sun rises,
Monday Mas’ is on the horizon.
Monday 20th February 4am Port of Spain
The road is calling, it has missed us. It has missed us pounding every square inch of asphalt and pavement on offer, as the air reverberates with music and revelry.It has longed for the impossible variety of bands that will traverse it, fromthe mud-clad jab-jab faithful through to themed feathered and sequined glittering section leaders.
Tuesday brings no thoughts of remorse, the place is far too alive; the promise of Carnival kept us going during uncertain times, with the hope to return to this unique showcase of the celebration of life. This is freedom personified, it is glee maximised, the announcement to the world that we are back. Yes, the road has missed us, but we have missed it more. Monday 20th & Tuesday 21st Feb from9am Port of Spain, San Fernando, Arima, Scarborough.