Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is the mother of Caribbean carnival traditions.
Carnival is an Italian Catholic winter festival that was brought to the Americas by Spanish, Portuguese and French colonizers. In the colonial Americas, Carnival was the only time that slavers allowed Africans to celebrate their own traditions.
When human enslavement ended, Trinidad and Tobago Carnival became a celebration of freedom.
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival traditions spread across the Caribbean and around the world. It is the inspiration for New York City’s Labor Day Carnival and London’s Notting Hill Carnival.
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival 2021 Dates
The climax of 2021 Trinidad and Tobago Carnival in Port of Spain, Trinidad is Monday-Tuesday, February 15-16, 2021.
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is always celebrated on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
Bands or mas (masquerade groups) organize the summer before. Preparations start right after Christmas. Port of Spain goes wild the weekend before, gets greasy at J’Ouvert on Carnival Monday and reaches its climax on Carnival Tuesday, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).
To visit Trinidad Carnival, you should plan your trip the summer before.
The History of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival grew out of French masquerade balls held on Mardi Gras, the night before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Catholic religious fast of Lent.
Enslaved peoples were not allowed in the masquerades, so they had parties at home and made fun of their master’s strange traditions. When freedom came in 1833, Carnival became popular among all the people and began evolving into the great party it is today.
In Latin countries, Carnival is celebrated at the traditional time before Ash Wednesday and Lent. In countries whose last colonizer was Britain, it is celebrated at other times of the year. It is unusual for Carnival to be celebrated at the traditional time in an English-speaking country.
Trinidadians tell us they are an English-speaking Latin country. Trinidad is truly a great mix of peoples.