Carnival Checklist: Antigua Carnival, 101

July 24, 2015

The Competition Heats Up: Thursday, July 31st-Sunday, Aug. 1st

The junior calypso and party monarch competition is held immediately after children’s carnival which is celebrated earlier on the same day. This is a competition for those talented youths who wish to express their love for this musical form of their culture, and perhaps pave the way for them to enter the adult arena in the future.

No carnival would be complete without the steel pan and, here in Antigua, the rivalry between steel bands is fierce to say the least. Carnival City will see nine steel bands “Bringing the Iron,” and playing for their love of this measure of the culture and also for the title and accolades that come with defeating the other challengers. You have never seen a competition with so much passion, energy, focus and adventure until you have witnessed Panorama in Antigua.

One of the most heavily anticipated competitions and events of the season is Party Monarch, taking place on Emancipation Day, Aug. 1. The night is split into two categories, with nine contestants battling for the title of Groovy champion or Jumpy champion, and in some cases both titles. This contest is all about local artists going head-to-head in musical warfare and putting their every energy into wowing the crowd in the hopes to receive or retain the crown. This is one of the most attended shows for the past 10 years and although the crowd will always have their favourites, the participation from the audience is usually high energy throughout every performance from every soca performer. When the lights frame the stage in Carnival City at 8pm, the night rips into high gear and the countdown to carnival is well and truly close to approaching its climax.

Calypso is part of Antiguan cultural heritage and an extension and reflection of Antigua’s African history and roots – it is also an art form that is very much alive within Antigua and its roots are planted and wound so deep, it would be fair and safe to say that it has a permanent place and an eternal relevance in the market. Calypso Monarch is a display of some of Antigua and Barbuda’s musical veterans competing for the crown through songs that speak of current affairs, injustice, politics and a wide list of issues that society and communities should address or pay attention to. Calypso Monarch is as much a competition that encompasses the community and its structure, as it is about entertainment. Calypso Monarch is also a celebration of Antigua and Barbuda’s history and culture – but not forgetting rivalry.