I have always loved carnival and attended Notting Hill Carnival in the UK from a very young age, it is now a humongous affair with around 2 million people. In 1986 I experienced my first Spicemas carnival in Grenada and fell in love with both the island and its carnival. It is a totally different beast to the one in the UK, no where near as large but bright and colourful and steeped in culture which made it extra special. It would be another 27 years before I would jump up at Spicemas Grenada carnival again, in 2013 I took part in its Jouvert morning with the Jab Jab crew and had the time of my life | The Real Jab Jab
I am currently in the UK visiting with family and will be jumping up with Chocolate Nation Mas at Notting Hill Carnival 2016 (look out for my blog). The Calabash Carnival Club, a Grenada band, will also be in Notting Hill this year. In London, jumping with a band, in my opinion, is a much better experience than just walking around. But if I were in Grenada I would be attending Spicemas, and some of the activities leading up to the islands biggest annual festival, and whether you are with a band or not, it is a truly unique experience!
Spicemas carnival in Grenada is renowned for its colour, creativity and unique cultural character, Although each parish features its own brand of traditional costume or mas’, and many have activities at the Parish level, for many the main Carnival action is to be found on the streets of the capital city of St. George’s.
The Carnival celebration gains momentum in early August with cultural presentations and calypso shows almost every night of the week and the night air is filled with the sound of steel bands rehearsing their unique musical arrangements for the upcoming Panorama competition.
Carnival week proceeds with the National Carnival Queen Show, where Grenada’s young women compete in Carnival costume, evening gown and cultural performance categories; the Soca Monarch Finals and the Panorama Steel Band competition.
Carnival Sunday brings the final countdown to Carnival with the Dimarche Gras Show, featuring the Kings and Queens of the Fancy Mas Bands in competition for King and Queen of Carnival.
Many revellers begin their Carnival marathon at the Dimarche Gras Show and continue straight into the J’Ourvert celebrations, where in the early hours of Monday morning, the traditional Jab-Jab or Devil Mas bands emerge from the darkness of the night to parade freely through the town. Blackened with stale molasses, tar, grease, creosote or mud, and wearing little more than their horned helmets, these masqueraders in previous times set out to terrify onlookers with their grotesque appearance and repulsive dances.
The Ole Mas bands are the only other inhabitants in the early morning, bringing international and local events to the fore through their double entendre (or double talk) placards and satirical costumes.
The Carnival devils disappear with the rising of the sun, making way for the Traditional and Fancy Mas bands in the Monday parade or Pageant. Each parish has its own brand of traditional mas usually represented by Short Knees, Vekou and Wild Indians.
With Arab-like head coverings, jumbo collars, batwing sleeves and three-quarter (short knee) baggy trousers, the Short knee Bands are now the most prevalent of the traditional masqueraders. Almost identical in appearance, they dance through the roads from their respective villages, into the town of St. George’s, passionately chanting, boxing the air and scattering baby powder with abandon.
Carnival Monday ends with the Monday Night Mas' street jump-up, where party goers in brightly coloured T-shirt bands, wave fluorescent wands and dance through the streets into the wee hours of the Tuesday morning.
On Carnival Tuesday, the fancy bands take to the streets again, parading through the capital city of St. George's, to the music of traditional steel bands or the pulsating sounds of the current calypso songs from mobile DJs. The party can continue long into the night until the most devout of revellers finally stagger home.
Saturday 30 July 2016
Children's Carnival Frolic
Thursday 4 August 2016
National Queen Show
Friday 5 August 2016
Soca Monarch Finals
Saturday 6 August 2016
SMC/NLA National Panorama
Sunday 7 August 2016
Monday 8 August 2016/Carnival Monday
J'ouvert, Pageant, Monday Night Mas, Parade of the Bands
Tuesday 9 August 2016/Carnival Tuesday
J'ouvert, Parade of the Bands, Last Lap