What would carnival in Trinidad and Tobago be without steel band/pan music? The steel pan, the only instrument invented in the twentieth century is an integral part of carnival and so is Panorama, the World Cup of steel band competitions. Steel band musicians and enthusiasts from all over participate in this annual carnival event. The competition takes place in Queens Park Savannah. Leading steel bands include Arima NuTones, WITCO Desperadoes, Birdsong, Amoco Renegades, Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars, Phase II Pan Grove, Our Boys, Carib Tokyo, PCS Starlift, Exodus, Fonclaire, Invaders, Melodians, Potential Symphony, Tobago All Stars, Pamberi, Sundowners Angel Harps, Deltones, Hatters and Solo Harmonites. Panorama was created over 30 years ago.
Trinidad and Tobago carnival wouldn't be the same without the many competitions that form part of the festival. Competitions include the Road March competition, Band of the Year, Calypso Monarch, King and Queen of the Bands, Panorama, International Power Soca Monarch, International Groovy Soca Monarch, Junior Soca Monarch, Junior Calypso Monarch, National Calypso Queen competition, Junior King competition and the Chutney Soca Monarch competition. Calypso competitions are broken down into an extempo competition, humorous calypso, political commentary, social commentary, and chutney soca competition. For many carnival lovers, these competitions are the highlight of carnival in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Kings and Queens Costume competitions is one that continues to impress me. Costumes can weigh between 50 – 200 lbs and depict a wide variety of themes. Designers spend several months creating these elaborate costumes which can tower over 30 feet high. The competitions are marked by tremendous displays of special effects, including light shows, lasers, fog, musical sound effects and fireworks. These costumes are not for the weak, as great strength is often necessary to portray them on stage and to parade on the streets of Port Of Spain on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Wheels are often attached to make it easier for the masquerade band leaders/competitors.
Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago - Costumes and Mas Camps
Carnival costumes are designed and displayed in Mas Camps. Several unique styles are designed according to a chosen theme. Many of the costumes are assembled in the camp itself. The costumes are showcased 3 to 5 months before carnival by the various band leaders. Costumes can be purchased at the mas camps and some camps sell them online as well. Trinidad mas camps include 2 Haquai, D Krewe, Dream Team TnT, Evolution Carnival, Genesis, Gerard Kelly (Kids Band), ImageNation, Island People, Legacy, MacFarlane Carnival, Pulse 8 (Formerly Poison), Ronnie & Caro Carnival Band, Rosalind Gabriel (Kids Band), Taboo, The Oracle, Trevor Wallace & Associates, Tribe (Dean & Monique Ackine), Trini Revellers (Geraldo Vieira Jr.), Young Harts and Wee International.
Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago - Dimanche Gras and Jouvert
Dimanche Gras (english translation: Fat Sunday) is the massive cultural show that takes place the night before official Trinidad and Tobago carnival celebrations begin. It is traditionally held in Port Of Spain, Trinidad. The event showcases mas, steelpan, calypso and soca music. It also features the finals of the King and Queen of the Bands and the Calypso Monarch competition.
J'Ouvert is a key feature of carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. This pre-dawn celebration takes place on Carnival Monday. Revellers wear old clothes and cover themselves in oil, paint, grease, chocolate or warm mud. Musical accompaniment is provided by steelbands and music trucks and revellers dance in the street until the break of day. When J'Ouvert (Jour Ouvert) is over revellers usually go home for a few hours of rest and put on their costumes for the main parade in the streets. J'ouvert bands include Blue Devils, Chocolate City, Cocoa Devils, Boom Champions 94.1FM, Insomniacs, J'Ouvert Fun Lovers, Jungle Fever, MAS Jumbies, Mudders International, Playtime, Red Ants, Section Eight, Silver Mudders International and Yellow Devils.
Carnival Monday and Tuesday is when it all climaxes. On Carnival Monday, masqueraders begin parading at midday, after J'Ouvert. This is arguably a warm-up for carnival Tuesday which begins as early as 8 o'clock in the morning. On carnival Monday there is less restrictions as far as costumes are concerned and headpieces and costumes are not mandatory. Carnival Tuesday is the day when masqueraders parade in full costume and strut their stuff in front of the judges as they cross the judging points. They do this in an attempt to be proclaimed Band of the Year. The various bands are judged in three categories, small, medium and large. Thousands of people jump up in the street wearing glittery, colourful and often revealing costumes. The various bands are divided into different sections each wearing different costumes and depicting different aspects of one main theme.