Carnival Checklist: Antigua Carnival, 101

July 24, 2015

The Climax: Monday, Aug. 3-Tuesday, Aug. 4

Photo: Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority

Jouvert | Judging of the Bands (Monday)
Jouvert is strictly about having a good time and letting go of all cares and worries. Bands take to the roads as early as 4am to begin setting up for the jam session. Some revelers come straight from jamming at local spots (because during Carnival season there is always party to be had) and hit the road behind the big trucks, playing that “feel good” sweet soca music from the steel and jam bands. Jouvert morning on the road could bring the party animal out of a corpse, so be sure to wear comfortable clothes and footwear — make sure not to wear anything that has sentimental value or that you would not be willing to dispose of. The session will be wild, so be prepared. There will be steel pan bands on the road and jam bands too playing music for the revelers and it is during this session that the ‘Road March’ song is selected to denote the “King of the Road.” Jouvert begins at dawn as the translation of the word is ‘day opened’ whilst the Judging of the Bands begins at 11am. Mas troupes and masqueraders navigate the streets with their troupes from approximately midday to jam until the evening behind the big trucks blasting the music that is the heart and soul of carnival – Soca!

This day is officially the close of carnival, but it is also the day that so many prepare for as this is the day that all divas, whether male or female don their bright colours, flash their flesh, shake their feathers, apply the glitter and gems and party hard throughout the streets of St. John’s. This day is the most colourful and vibrant of all the days within the Carnival Zone. Mas troupes have the chance to show off their hard work and labour as their masqueraders proudly stomp and jam in the streets in full carnival costume and attire. The processions begin to move off at approximately midday. They are usually scheduled to be earlier, but this is Carnival—there are no hard and fast rules. The energy runs right throughout the day with masqueraders ‘jumping up’ for several hours and up into the early hours of the evening. The bands parade their costumes on the stage within Carnival City and get their chance to shine, dance and show off their glitz, beautiful colours, jewels and feathers to the judging panel. The Parade of the Bands is truly a spectacle if you just wish to stand in the streets of St. John’s and look on, and it’s an exciting, electrifying and unforgettable experience if you choose to participate and join a troupe. Nothing can quite prepare you for the antics on the road until you physically experience and embrace Antigua and Barbuda’s Carnival—or, as we call it, The Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival!