You can feel intensifying energy building up across the entire island of Antigua, as excited locals and visitors gather together in celebration of the nation’s biggest festival ever… Antigua’s Carnival! Beginning from mid-July each year, a variety of events and shows are all set in motion, leading up to Carnival Monday and Tuesday, (which always fall on the first Monday and Tuesday of August) … undoubtedly the two most anticipated days of the entire year! Carnival Monday kicks off with J’ouvert (meaning daybreak), an early morning parade which starts from 4am – 10am in the city of St. John’s – Antigua’s capital.
Not to be mistaken with the actual Monday and Tuesday parades, though having similarities, J’ouvert is a less formal parade with no grand costumes, instead, the revelers are dressed in matching t-shirts which usually are cut creatively into individual designs. Shortly after J’ouvert, the streets of the city become even more alive, swamped with cheerful revelers adorned in brightly colored costumes depicting various themes, profoundly decorated with sequins, feathers, beads, rhinestones and sometimes artistic body paintings.
Accompanying them are the sounds of captivating and energetic music, heard from miles around, on large extended trucks. These trucks are custom built with platforms, from where local Soca and Calypso artistes perform. Carnival Tuesday is the final day of this grand parade, which ends with a “Last Lap” where revelers and spectators come together for their final “Jump Up”, after the official parade displaying all costume bands is completed. The last Lap marks the official closing of the carnival season, as this celebration comes to an end at 10pm.
Antigua carnival has evolved over the years and rivals some of the most acclaimed carnival destinations in the world, such as the island of Trinidad & Tobago. So, mark your calendar and make this a must-have experience on your next planned Caribbean vacation!