‘Craziest’ Party? That just might be the worst description of what Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival really is.
Here’s what you may not know about TnT Carnival, the greatest show on the earth!
The History of Carnival
TnT’s Carnival is not just a street party with lots of alcohol and loud music. It’s influenced by as many different cultures as the people that make up Sweet TnT. From the ‘Dame Lorraine’ mas character inspired by TnT’s French history to traditional ‘Sailor Mas’ introduced in the 1880’s when British and American naval ships came to Trinidad to the ‘Moko Jumbie’ right out of West African culture, Carnival is the ‘Spirit of Trinidad and Tobago’!
The beat of the Steelpan
The rhythmic sounds of TnT’s ‘Steelpan’ (not Steel Drum) fills the air around Carnival time, providing the accompaniment for masqueraders on parade Carnival Monday and Tuesday. ‘Pan yards’ are buzzing with excitement and packed to capacity as ‘pan men’ practice from sunrise to sunset for the largest steelpan competition in the world, Panorama! The history of the steelpan is one of true perseverance. Prior to its invention, Carnival-goers would beat on skin drums as they celebrate in activities. But when a ban was placed on ‘drum- beating’ sometime around the 1940’s, Trinbagonians were forced to turn to steeldrums, unwittingly giving birth to the Steelpan, the only musical invention of the twentieth century!
The true music of Carnival
‘Calypso’, has its roots deep in African culture. In its early days, Calypso was used by the slaves and lower class to give political and social commentary as well as provide entertainment for Carnival-goers. Thanks to this form of music, now there is Soca, known as the modern form of Calypso. Soca, a blend of ‘Indian’ rhythms and ‘Calypso’ music, provides fast paced melodies full of spice and flavour! It’s also the main ingredient of another Carnival highlight – International Soca Monarch Competition. This popular competition showcases the best Soca artists of the Caribbean together with colourful on-stage performances. Soon to be provided on Pay-Per-View, “Soca Monarch is Trinidad’s gift to the world”
A Parade of Heritage
Carnival’s Parade of Bands is more than fancy costumes, colourful feathers and people jumping around. Inspired by TnT’s rich heritage and thriving people, the Parade of Bands is an avenue to display who Trinidad and Tobago really is. How unique indeed, as TnT’s Carnival costumes and designs have been on display at many international events such as the Opening Ceremonies of the 1987 Pan Am Games in Indianapolis, the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, the 1994 World Cup in Chicago and at the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in London, England. The costumes tell a story . . . the story of a very unique country and people.
Carnival come soon!
Carnival Celebrations begin as fast as Trini Christmas celebrations are over. The radio stations swap the Christmas Parang music for the latest Soca hits. Calypso Tents open and masquerade bands launch their new themes. The steelpan drums come alive with sweet sounds and the concerts, cultural shows and traditional pre Carnival celebrations begin.
Now that’s more like it . . . that’s what Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is really about.