ANTIGUA CELEBRATES 51 YEARS OF CARNIVAL
ANTIGUA, West Indies – Antigua commemorates 51 years of colorful Carnival
celebrations this coming July 2008. Travelers have the opportunity to be a part of the
excitement, energy and camaraderie that characterizes Antigua’s annual Carnival
festivities as the celebration occurs July 26-Aug. 5, 2008.
Celebrating the beliefs and traditions of the past and present, the island comes
alive like no other time of 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 colors and ornate designs of the costumes. As locals and visitors of all
ages unite to celebrate Antigua and Barbuda’s emancipation from slavery in 1834, the
level which islanders embrace their cultural heritage is as clear as the water that
Taking place throughout 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 West Indian
delicacies and Antiguan specialties wafting from scores of grills and pots lining the
streets. And, it certainly would not be a celebration without the flow of Antigua’s Cavalier
rum, used to make locally prepared drinks, and Wadadli beer, which is brewed on island.
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 began as a way for slaves,
who were forbidden to speak in the fields, to communicate with each other. As an
improvisational musical art form, it depends largely upon the skill of a soloist, (the
Calypsonian) who weaves the sounds of many cultures into a lyrical whole. 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.
Antigua is home to many fine steel drum bands, whose music was originally
created when the bamboo percussion instruments traditionally used to back up calypso
were replaced by hammered steel pans cut from oil drums.
Soca, the latest musical form celebrated during Carnival, grafts the slower beat
of American soul music to the upbeat tempos of Calypso. Soca began in the 1970s, and
by the middle of the 1980s it had become an integral feature of Carnival throughout the
Beauty, talent and breathtaking costumes are synonymous with the Miss Antigua
Pageant and the Caribbean Queen's Competition. The anticipation and glory that
surrounds the crowing 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 Monday, August 4, 2008
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 colored
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.
Journey into the heart of the Caribbean and discover the sister islands of Antigua
and Barbuda, where translucent turquoise waters gently lapping against 365 white and
pink sand beaches are just the beginning of the treasures that await visitors. As one of
the world’s top tropical destinations, accommodations range from trendy, boutique hotels
to all-inclusive resorts, and are complimented by a rich cultural heritage and diverse
recreational activities that ensure an authentic Caribbean experience. www.antigua-
For more information about Carnival go to http://www.antiguacarnival.com.