Antigua celebrates Carnival anniversary

Antigua is set to celebrate its 50th Anniversary of Carnival, from 21 July - 7 August, and visitors to the island have the opportunity to be part of the excitement, energy and camaraderie that characterises one of the Caribbean’s greatest festivals.

On 5 April 2007, in Antigua, the Antigua and Barbuda Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, the Hon. Harold Lovell announced the presentation of USD 50,000 to the Carnival Development Committee and its subsidiaries.  The Committee also unveiled their new logo created especially for the Golden Jubilee, with the strapline: ‘Music.Mas.Fantasy. Come Celebrate our Golden Jubilee’

Celebrating the beliefs and traditions of the past and present, the island comes alive like no other time of the year and for weeks beforehand the flurry of excitement and anticipation courses through the island.  Experience the heart throbbing sounds of the music, witness the energy of the crowds during the “jump up” parades or be awed by the kaleidoscope of colours and ornate designs of the costumes.

Taking place in the streets of St. John’s and in Carnival City, located at the Antigua Recreation Grounds, construction of a huge stage begins in early June.  A festival village is also set up to house a variety of food and entertainment stands.

During the festivities the air is thick with sumptuous aromas of Antiguan specialties wafting from scores of grills and pots.  And, it certainly would not be a celebration without the flow of Antigua’s Cavalier or English Harbour rum, used to make locally prepared drinks, and Wadadli beer, which is brewed on island.

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A range of music from calypso to soca and steel band pulses through the streets of St. John’s during the course of the celebration.  Calypso music is such an integral part of Carnival that for weeks leading up to the events, the island is abuzz with discussions over who will win the nationwide calypso competition held the day before the opening of the festivities.

Beauty, talent and breathtaking costumes are synonymous with the several pageants that are held throughout the event and the anticipation and glory that surrounds the crowning of the Carnival Queen is intense, prior to her reign for one year as Antigua’s roving ambassador.

Carnival comes to a feverish climax during J’Ouvert (on the first Monday of August) as thousands of spectators dance and “jump-up” among the floats and crowds of the Grand Carnival Parade.  This frenzied and hypnotic dancing, singing and drinking continues until the early morning hours.  Grand Parade Day is a spectacular conclusion to the festivities, when the streets come alive with intricate costumes, brightly coloured floats and of course, live music.  The final curtain falls with the “Last Lap,” a street jump-up that runs from 6 p.m. to midnight.

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