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Much to be learnt from Trinidad Carnival

It will likely take months before we recover from missing Trinidad Carnival – two-and-a-half months to be exact.

That’s when we’ll get to participate in Bahamas Carnival, scheduled for the first weekend in May.

But with just six years under our belt, there is much that we can learn from Trinidad, which hosts the biggest Carnival celebration in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Karnivalista spoke to several Bahamians who recently returned from Trinidad about their experiences and what aspects of Trinidad Carnival they’d like to see implemented here. They all agreed on one thing: more fetes.

“I just loved how it wasn’t just about the parade,” said Bahamian artist Patrice Murrell, who spent more than one week in Trinidad.

Bahamian artist Patrice Murrell at Trinidad Carnival, where she performed with WeeMas International during Tuesday mas. PATRICE MURRELL

“The parade was great. Tuesday mas was great, but they also had Monday mas where you didn’t need a costume. There was J’ouvert, that was a whole other parade that was fun and you didn’t necessarily need a costume.

“It was just about having fun on the road and vibes and connecting and enjoying the energy and spirit of Carnival. Another thing that I appreciated as well is that there were so many concerts and fetes and parties leading up to, and even after Carnival. I’d like to see a lot more of those in The Bahamas. Those fetes focused on the artists – the Trinidadian artists and international artists. And so, you got to literally go to 10 or 20 different fetes in a week or two weeks.”

Jayme C. Pinder, a budding singer and songwriter herself, offered similar comments.

“But to be honest, Trinidad’s Carnival displays not only the parties and events that most carnivals around the world have, but everything has a Trinidadian twist,” said Pinder.

“Even the rest stops have locals playing steel pans so you get to experience not just the soca from all different countries and islands but their authentic music as well as food, etc.

“They are a whole lot more organized, which makes it a bit more fun and safer.

“And their parties or events are also concerts, so it allows a great platform for new and even existing artists to share their music for the Carnival season.”

Pinder, who has written songs for soca artists, said it would be great to see that replicated in The Bahamas with local artists.

Timmy Bain, who traveled to Trinidad with a group of friends and family, said he had hundreds of parties to choose from.

Timmy Bain, second left, and friends at Trinidad Carnival. TIMMY BAIN

“We just need more events,” he said. “Nassau only has…like seven events in total, whereas Trinidad has hundreds.

“We don’t need hundreds but we need more events and there shouldn’t be non-inclusive events.”

He said promoters can hold smaller fetes during the morning and afternoon hours to accommodate visitors.

Having traveled to Trinidad a few times for Carnival myself, I can attest to what Bain said.

There are so many events to choose from during the lead-up to Carnival that the road march is literally just the icing on the cake.

However, as Bahamas Carnival grows, I have no doubt that it will improve with time. Many have already heralded Bahamas Carnival as one of the fastest growing festivals. And let’s not forget that the “king” of soca himself, Machel Montano, said in 2018 that Bahamas Carnival could become the biggest in the Caribbean because of the country’s geography and beauty.

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