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An explosion of joy and energy is what you experience at every concert and performance. A riot of colors and creativity is what you view at the parade on Festival Day. Exhaustion and drenching sweat are what you feel after J’ouvert morning, international flag night, and the last “Jump Up.” Such is the experience one gets at Miami’s annual Caribbean Carnival Festival held every year on Columbus Day weekend.
If you have never attended a carnival festival in Miami or your home city, then you are missing out on one of life’s great treats. Each year Miami welcomes thousands of people from every island of the Caribbean, countries from the tip of South America, and yes, even a few Americans into their city for music, parades, and kinetic concert performances. It is a celebration of all things Caribbean, and a gaggle of fun.
Created originally in Trinidad and Tobago, carnival focuses on the music form known as Soca; a fast and joyous form of music from the islands that extol the virtues of dancing, togetherness, and the all important “whining” of your waist. The festival is celebrated in all major cities, but Miami’s is one of the most anticipated.
This year the bonus of celebrating the 50th anniversary of Trinidad’s independence added extra “oomph” to the parties and events. Once again Machel Montano, known as the King of Soca, performed in the city at concerts: “Girl Power,” “Rave” and at the Sunday Parade. Machel is one of the biggest and most beloved soca artists. His performances leave thousands covered in sweat from concerts that last two hours, and push people to dance, jump and wave the flags of their country’s origin.
Being in the crowd at carnival can be intimating for the uninitiated. Party goers, often called revelers, love to dance, while gyrating their waists against each other. Once the song ends, the person up against you is likely to disappear instantly, as they move off to another reveler to dance with. If they are not “whining,” as they call it, then they are responding to the singer’s calls to jump and down, and wave their flags. It is fun, intoxicating without the alcohol needed, and as mentioned, tiring. Concerts typically go from 9pm to 4 or 5am. The day of the Parade, you follow along large trucks blasting soca music and trail after parade goers who are dressed in bright costumes. The Parade leads into the fairgrounds where each “Band” is judged for their costumes, and then prepares for the closing night concert. Performances this year were given by Machel Montano, Patrice Roberts, 10 year old sensation Devin, and others.
Miami carnival is both a celebration of the last carnival event held in the U.S. for the year and a warm up for the grand daddy of all carnivals held in Trinidad in February. If you have never been to one it is great fun for the family, or as way to relieve stress and strain from perils of work. Be sure to look for it in your city, or to attend it in Miami next year. It is guaranteed to be hot, fun, and a grand experience.
Image Courtesy of Vania Andre