Dancing with the Devil while Playing a Conch Shell
If you want to attend a festival with brightly coloured costumes, steel and calypso bands playing in the streets, and a wide array of cultural performances; then you won’t find a more exotic event than the Grenada Carnival. Performers covered in body paint dance through the streets and “devils” run wild.
The carnival, also known as Spice Mas, has been celebrated in Grenada since its occupation by European countries. This means the festival has a long and vibrant history. Though it’s still one of the smaller of the Caribbean festivals, it has continued to grow in size and popularity through the years.
Grenada Carnival 2012
Though events are held throughout the various parishes, the main festival takes place in the capital city of St. George.
The theme for the 2012 festival is, “Uniquely Rooted in Our Rich Ancestral Tradition, Shortknee: Legacy of the Chantuelle.”
The Shortknee Masquerader has long been a symbol for the carnival. This icon is a mask-wearing costumed character. The term “shortknee” refers to the short pants that are worn as part of the costume.
Calypso bands set up tents and perform throughout the festival. They hope to be chosen for the honor of competing in the National Calypso Monarch Competition.
Dates for 2012
The festival begins on June 2nd at the national stadium. The main events take place from Friday, August 10 to Monday, August 14. The August dates were chosen so that the festival didn’t collide with Easter events or other Caribbean festivals.
In the early hours of Monday morning, “devil” Mas bands and Jab Jab posses appear out of the darkness. They were traditionally covered in dark coloured substances such as tar, charcoal, and black paint. At one time their purpose was more ominous but their worst offense now is painting party goers with dabs of body paint. You are welcome to dress up in dark colors and shorts and join in with the Jab bands. Be sure and bring a drum or conch shell so you can make your own music and chants.. The Jab Jab bands disappear with the morning sun.
- Pageant Mas
This even takes place during the day on Monday. Traditional Mas bands include masqueraders such as the Shortknee, Vekou, and Wild Indians. They parade through the streets arriving from their various cities.
Monday Night Mas Street Jump Up
During the Monday Night Mas party goers dance through the streets wearing brightly coloured t-shirts and waving glowing wands. This continues until early on Tuesday morning.
Parade of the Bands
The festival concludes as bands march through the streets of St. George on Tuesday. At the end of the night the music finally ends and party goers return to their homes to look forward to next year’s event.
If you want to attend a festival filled with the colours, costumes, and calypso music of the Caribbean; the Grenada Carnival is a good choice. You’ll never forget the sights and sounds of this cultural event. But beware of the Jab Jab posse.