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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 surrounds them. 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 Caribbean. 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- barbuda.org For more information about Carnival go to http://www.antiguacarnival.com.
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