In the late 18th century, the French plantation owners in Trinidad and Tobago organized masquerades and balls before enduring the fasting of Lent. The slaves, who could not take part in Carnival, formed their own parallel celebration called Canboulay, which is supposed to be the predecessor of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, and has played an important role in the development of the music of the Country. Apart from Trinidad and Tobago, the Carnival is also celebrated in other cities worldwide.
Known as the Mardi Gras of the Caribbean, the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival takes place each February in Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad & Tobago Traditionally, the festival is closely associated with calypso music. However, as per popular demand, now it is replaced by the Soca music. Costumes, stick-fighting and limbo competitions are also important components of the festival.
In the opening event, known as J’ouvert, people in trucks with thundering loud music rush towards the streets early in the morning, dance as if in a trance, and finally throw mud, oil, and paint at each other madly. The most important part of the Carnival is the Parade, where anybody and everybody, even the children can join. During the parade, guards hold ropes on each side of the street, so that the parade may proceed smoothly. But the guards are neither serious nor strict in their duty, and anybody can jostle inside the parading arena at his sweet will, take a few shots of the dancing beauties adorned in their dazzling costumes, or can join the march for a few minutes with the others. There are drinks trucks, marvelous vehicles where bartenders pour alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages into cups for any follower of the parade, with a wristband and the stamina to jog alongside the mobile bar.
Each parade is led by a King and a Queen in especially large costumes. The King and Queen are chosen on Carnival Sunday. Music is a vital part of this festival and Band of the Year is also chosen from among the participating bands playing on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival could just be defined as one among the greatest shows on earth with its masquerade bands, spectacular costumes, pulsating music and partying that seems never to stop. In fact, Trinidad’s Carnival is probably the country’s cultural highlight and premier tourist attraction. It is wild, hot, crazy, hectic, colourful, and refreshingly free from all types of taboos, inhibitions and imposed restrictions.