St Lucia Carnival

Posted on June 25, 2012

St Lucia Carnival 2012 is upon us. The revellers are revving up, the costumes are prepared and the dates have been set - the dates for the actual parade is Monday 18th July and Tuesday 19th July 2012.

Historically, The St Lucian Carnival fell on the days before the Catholic holiday of Ash Wednesday, a last lap of revelry before the sombre Lenten season. There are several theories about carnival’s origins and some reach back to the festivals of Bacchanal in Italy, but the Caribbean has come to stamp the celebration with its distinct impression.

The celebration of St Lucia Carnival has been moved to July, a decision that was influenced by the lobby of various tourism interests who saw the festival as a potential draw for visitors during what has traditionally been a slow period for the industry. And so the festival looms with preparations well underway for the celebration of a colourful, explosive fete where all come together, united by the pursuit of the God Vaval, traditionally burned in effigy at the event’s end.

In the run up to the season, various ‘Mas Camps busily prepare the costumes and accoutrements that revellers will demand for the two day street jump up. Late into the night designers and cutters, seamstresses and the like will be creating their costumes, while musicians put the final touches on the rhythms that will drive the whole event. Music is central to this celebration and no effort is spared by calypsonians, soca artistes and pan players to fine tune the best of the season’s offerings.

For several weeks in the run up to the culminating event, tents, bearing a particular affiliation, will hold preliminary competitions for the best calypso and soca music. Calypsonians leave nothing sacred, no politician or public figure unscathed, in their pursuit of the perfect satire. Soca is more beat driven with every effort made to drive revellers into a pulsing frenzy. The pan yard beat out their own rhythms for the Panorama competition, the peak event of the season for pan enthusiasts, a uniquely Caribbean phenomenon bearing the distinction of featuring the only musical instrument to be invented in the last two centuries. Panorama comes to a head July 13th at the Vigie playing field.

Pageant would-be’s put the finishing touches on their performances and dress designers clamber for the opportunity to dress these lovely epitomes of Caribbean beauty and talent. This year’s Queen Show is July 6th at Samaans Park in Choc Bay.

If costumes and organised chaos are not your thing, J’ouvert (day open) is a spontaneous combustion of the party-going crowd who do not want to go home. July 16th, in the early hours of the morning, the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed party seekers take to the streets of Castries to welcome the day. And what a day it is, July 16th and 17th are this year’s Carnival street parade where bands converge in gay abandon to compete for the coveted first place. For people watchers there is no better place to be on the island than on the sidewalks of the city watching the procession go by.

This blog entry was originally published at http://guidetostlucia.com/st-lucia-carnival/. We're republishing it here with their permission.