10 Amazing Photos from Trinidad Carnival 2015

Photographs by Jason Bodden for

Photographs by Jason Bodden for

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Trinidad Carnival Monday & Tuesday 2014

Trinidad Carnival Monday (lundi gras) and Carnival Tuesday (mardi gras) are the finale to the bacchanal starting just after Christmas. From early Jouvert morning, revellers wake up, ready themselves for the mud throwing and the hours of dancing, wining, bouncing, jumping and feteing in the streets of Port of Spain!

Choose a band – I have been playing mas with Ronnie & Caro The Mas Band since 2010. Most medium and large bands will provide costumes for Monday and Tuesday. Carnival Monday costumes are usually t-shirts and skimpy bikinis. Some people will wear fancier pieces of their Tuesday costume. This is the day that your band’s King and Queen take the spotlight. These large, mesmerizing wearable art are judged for their craftsmanship and design. The rest the band comes along for the ride in support and (obviously) to party and drink on the road all day.

Carnival Tuesday is what I like to call Diva Day. Women and men pay hundreds – if not thousands – of Canadian/American dollars to look perfect in their sparkly, beaded costumes. Coordinated make up, body paint, boots and hair must be on point for all the cameras that will be around to capture them on film.

Be prepared to have your picture taken by spectators along the route.  You will be the envy of all those little girls who dream of prancing around in gorgeous finery when they grow up. Smile because you will be seen on live streaming TV from Japan to Stockholm! Be a star and don’t forget to continue the feteing and dancing!! This is the day that every masquerader dreams of! The bliss of playing mas makes life worth living!

Then comes Ash Wednesday when tabanca sets in leaving masqueraders feeling like an abandoned lover – tired, aching, reminiscing over each and every spectacular moment in that relationship…and hoping for more! Ahhh sweet Carnival – the Greatest Show on Earth!


Jouvert In Trinidad 2014




This year I played with Shades Jouvert whose mas camp (headquarters) are in Tunapuna. Their J’ouvert band route snakes through St. Clair (in Port-of-Spain) and Maraval from King Georges V Park  and ends at Long Circular Mall in St. James.

We got to the park at 3:00 am Carnival Monday (Lundi Gras) morning when it was still dark, wearing our yellow Shades Jouvert t-shirts to identify our band. For breakfast, we had a choice of Trinidadian-style cheese, ham or egg sandwiches and doubles.

Around 4:00 am, the groovy Soca riddims from the big truck’s gigantic speakers lead our band – trance-like – chipping through the streets of Port of Spain. As the sun rose higher, revellers got happier, drunker and muddier with splashes of blue, yellow and green paint. The Soca switched from smooth grooves to power bouncing and plenty vibes!

Close to 8:00 am, we returned home with sore feet, dirty bodies, ringing ears and smiles on our faces. Knowing that this was just the beginning of an unbelievable Carnival 2014.

[quote]J’ouvert (or Jouvay) in French is jour ouvert which means morning break. J’ouvert is held in the early morning of Carnival Monday and most real Caribbean-style carnivals will not forego this tradition which dates back over 200 years.

Although the French had never actually colonized Trinidad & Tobago, many of their customs remained on the islands. After slavery was abolished freed slaves were able to dress up in costumes that mimicked the styles of their former owners. Some of the most famous characters portrayed in J’ouvert come from Trinidad folklore and history. They include Moko Jumbie Bats, Bookmen, Baby Dolls, Jab Molassie, and Devil Mas.

Revellers will dance in the streets throwing and covering themselves with mud, paint and powder because the idea is to be dirty. Once the street party has finished revellers return home, clean themselves and dress up for Carnival Monday (lundi gras) festivities.

Adapted from Itz Caribbean

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Trinidad Carnival 2013

It’s been a long time coming but my Trinidad Carnival 2013 video has arrived. This video will give you a quick taste of what to expect at Trinidad Carnival! After reading the Trinidad Carnival Survival Guide, you should have already bought your flight ticket, booked your hotel and chosen your costume!!!

In less than a week, those of us who are lucky enough to be making bacchanal at Trinidad Carnival 2014, will be on de road and on de stage at Queen’s Park Savannah in Trinidad and Tobago’s capital, Port Of Spain.

Don’t fret, there’s always Trinidad Carnival 2015!

[vimeo width=”400″ height=”300″ video_id=”87677875″]

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Trinidad Carnival Survival Guide

Welcome to The Trinidad Carnival Survival Guide for Carnival Virgins, Carnival Veterans and Carnival Babies alike. Feel free to leave your comments below 🙂

What? Carnival festivities began in Trinidad and Tobago over 200 years ago. The Carnival takes certain aspects from Nigerian (Egungun), French and Spanish folkloric roots due to the mixing of colonizers and slaves.

Where? The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is the southernmost nation in the Caribbean archipelago. Trinidad is the main larger urban island. Tobago is smaller and is known for its easy-going lifestyle and amazing beaches.

Who? Trinbagonians (Trinidadians and Tobagonians) are like you and I. Some have ancestors who were the indigenous inhabitants of the islands – the Caribs. Other Trinis have Nigerian, Ghanaian, Indian and Chinese ancestry from their enslaved forefathers. And others came from England, France and Spain as slave owners or from Syria and Lebanon to flee persecution.

When? Trinidad Carnival falls on the Monday (Lundi Gras) and Tuesday (Mardi Gras) before Ash Wednesday every year.

Why? Trinidad Carnival celebrates unity and bacchanal (good times)!

Climate: Trinidad and Tobago is tropical with an annual average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. There is a Dry Season from January to May, and Rain Season from June to December.

Population: A little over 1 million

Official Language: English

Music of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival: Extempo, Calypso, Steel Pan (not steel drum), Soca, Chutney Soca

[accordion title=”When should I arrive for Trinidad Carnival?” close=”0″]If you are short on time, I’d suggest you arrive on Fantastic Friday (Carnival Friday) which is 3 days before the climactic Carnival Monday and Tuesday.[/accordion]
[accordion title=”What is there to do during Trinidad Carnival?” close=”0″]
Fete, fete and more fete! A fete is Trini talk for a party. Fetes can be small get-togethers (known as a lime) but generally they are huge rave-like parties at clubs, arenas and private mansions.

Beach lime. Pre-fete lime. Post-fete lime. Lime on the corner. Lime at home. Ah little lime. Lime on De Avenue (Ariapita Avenue). Do you notice a trend here?

Shark and Bake. Bake and Shark. Doubles. KFC (Trinidad and Tobago’s is real bess). Pelau. BBQ Chicken and Chips. Callaloo. Corn Soup.

Puncheon. White Oak. Angostura. Fernandes Black Label. Rum Punch. Carib. Stag.

Panorama (Steel Pan) Finals.

Dimanche Gras – King and Queen of Carnival.

Jouvert (Dirty mas). Expect to be pelted with mud, water-based paint or chocolate sauce. The dirtier the better.

…arrive in Trinidad and Tobago just after Christmas and you have a chance to hear the newest Soca, Chutney and Calypso music live at the pre-Carnival fetes, Steel Pan Semi-Finals, International Soca Monarch Semi-Finals.[/accordion]

[accordion title=”What should I wear?” close=”0″]Look cute. It’s the perfect time to look your best in that short colourful jumper you bought last summer. Or remember that long flowy halter maxi-dress? Or even that stretch mini-dress will be perfect with some bling sandals.

The key is to look great – effortlessly. Invest in a professional make-up artist for Carnival Tuesday and be the diva you were meant to be.

No white sneakers on the road please. Buy a cheap pair of boots (one size larger than normal) that match your costume. Low-waist skin tone tights are a great way to look sleeker in photos and gives an extra touch of specialness to your costume. Buy good insoles and wear comfy socks inside. Don’t bother getting pedicures because it’ll make your soles too delicate for all the walking and dancing you’ll be doing. For an easy pedi rub sand on your feet if you go to the beach.

Stockings are extremely helpful so stock up on 2 pairs per day (Carnival Monday and Tuesday) because they will rip. They come in light, medium and dark browns.

If you decide to play mas (participate in Carnival Monday and Tuesday with a band) you will get a Monday costume (usually a t-shirt). Pair the t-shirt with short shorts, your Carnival boots and tights.

For Carnival Tuesday, wear the entire formal costume and remember to smile for cameras and stay in yuh section when it’s time to cross de stage.

Your band may also include a goodie bag filled with condoms, coupons, jewelry, sunblock, creams, etc. Many bands will provide meals, snacks, alcohol, water and soft drinks on Carnival Monday and Carnival Tuesday.

Bring sunblock, beach towel(s), bathing suit(s), and wrap your valuables in a ziplock bag and keep them in a cute little pouch. You won’t want to carry anything big when you go to the fetes and Carnival.

Although it’s Dry Season during Trinidad Carnival, your delicious foreign blood might attract mosquitoes, so bring a citronella-based repellant and anti-itch creme.[/accordion]

[accordion title=”I heard that Trinidad and Tobago is seriously dangerous!” close=”0″]According to the travel advisories of several countries and local news reports, Trinidad and Tobago is a dangerous, crime-infested country. Luckily for you things are more peaceful during Carnival.

Most fetes and bands have tons of competent security. Don’t walk around paranoid but always be aware of your surroundings. The fete promoters and band leaders’ purpose is to give you what you pay for – the best stress-free bacchanalist time ever – so the riffraff stay away.
[accordion title=”Are Trinbagonians actually speaking English?” close=”0″]Yes, English is the official language of Trinidad and Tobago. However, Trinidadian English is a dialect with some unique words and a beautiful undulating accent.

Wining, bouncing, juking, pelting a waist, rolling a bumper, bending down low, etc are how Trinis get on bad and have ah time. It’s not considered nasty unless you’re hyper religious. At the fetes and Carnival men will teef ah wine from you. They will come behind you and wine up on ah bamcee (wine on your bum). If you let them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting them wine on you. But if at any time you don’t want it, just stop. He should get the point. If he doesn’t then glide away. No scene (no problems).

You will meet lots of men who will be interested in getting to know you physically. (If they ask) politely say that you’re staying with your cousin in Maraval. If you want them to trail you back to your hotel then that is your choice 🙂

You may get drama from some Trini men who may ask you how yuh doin dem like so gyul, etc. Some men will beg for it.

Trinbagonians are very blunt. They will tell you how they feel but usually in a funny, nonchalant way. You probably won’t hear many Trinis cussing (F bomb) unless they are seriously angry. They will use other colourful language instead.[/accordion]

[accordion title=”What do you actually do during Carnival?” close=”0″]Dance until your feet hurt, dance some more, drink ah rum (water, energy drinks, juice, sorrelmauby are fine too!), eat ah food (macaroni piecallaloodoubles, roti, BBQ chicken, pelau), meet new people, hold on to old friends, take lots of pics, get sun burnt, smile, laugh, have fun and don’t sleep until Ash Wednesday![/accordion]

This concludes The Trinidad Carnival Survival Guide. Tell us about your Trinidad Carnival virgin or expert experiences below 🙂

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Photo by Nabwood Fotos