4 Caribbean Carnivals for Celebrating the Island Spirit
If you’re looking for a destination that knows how to have a good time, you’ll find plenty in the Caribbean. The islands’ carnivals are legendary, and we’ve found the best celebrations for joining in on the fun.
Jump Up for Junkanoo in the Bahamas
The origins of this lively street festival are widely debated, but travelers and Bahamians alike all agree it’s a spectacular show. Dancers and musicians don florescent costumes for boisterous street parades throughout towns in the Bahamas in celebration of their culture. Spectators are encouraged to dance along with the performers, so don’t be surprised if you’re pulled on your feet to move along with the beats. The parades are always held on Boxing Day and New Year’s, but summertime Junkanoo celebrations have been popping up more and more in recent years. To experience the biggest and best of Junkanoo parades, head to the capital island of Nassau.
Enjoy an Extended Celebration in Aruba
With a nickname like One Happy Island, it’s no surprise that Aruba’s Carnival celebrations spread the fun over two joyful months. The festivities kick off in early January with the Parada di Flambeu celebration in the island’s capital city Oranjestad. Weeks of colorful floats, vibrant costumes, Carnival King & Queen elections, and specially-themed parades soon follow, ending with a celebratory burning of an emblem representing Momo – the king of Carnivals – on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.
Crop Over to Barbados
Barbados has always had a flare for showmanship, and their Crop Over festival is all the proof we need. What originally began as a celebration to mark the end of the sugar cane harvest is now arguably the most over-the-top carnival in the Caribbean with calypso music competitions, craft and food markets, and cultural performances. Events begin in June and last most of the summer. But if you want to experience the largest of Crop Over parties, be sure to arrive in August for the Grand Kadooment, a vibrant street masquerade of music, dancing, floats, and costumes.
Celebrate Diversity in the Dominican Republic
Gather with Dominicans from around the world to enjoy the oldest carnival in the Caribbean. Carnaval Dominicano is a celebration of the diverse cultures that have given the Dominican Republic its unique and spirited identity. You’ll see a wide range of parades, folklore performances, and masked “limping devil” costumes throughout the entire month of February, all with different themes depending on the provinces you visit. If you want to see all the different characters and performances but don’t have enough time to travel around the island, head to Santo Domingo on the first Sunday in March for the National Parade. People from all over the country gather along the city’s Malecón to preform, compete for prizes, and celebrate with one big street party.
There’s nothing better than a party in paradise, and the Caribbean islands sure know how to throw a celebration. Discover the vibrant cultures that call this destination home, and join in on the fun during the islands' carnivals.