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Trinidad Carnival, Port of Spain 2023

February 21 - February 22

trinidad carnival carnivals 2019

The World’s greatest party might be in Rio de Janeiro, but the Trinidad Carnival is a mix of centuries of tradition and solid fun, and is probably the most vibrant carnival in the Caribbean.

Officially, the Trinidad Carnival begins on the Monday before Ash Wednesday and finishes the following day. In 2023, this falls on 21 and 22 February. However, there is a series of great events around these dates in Port of Spain, and it could really be said to start a couple of days earlier.

Sure, it’s not on the scale of Rio, though paradoxically that is one of the Trinidad Carnival’s strengths as you can feel much more a part of the event, whether as a spectator or perhaps a participant, as there is much less separation between visitors and home team.

trinidad carnival
The steel pan was invented in Trinidad

In the spirit of a last burst of enjoyment before Lent, there’s a lot of loud music and much rum, or other forms of alcohol. The music is a mix of soca, steel pan, calypso and chutney – a mix of Indian folk/Bollywood and soca.

Trinidad Carnival History and Origins

Trinidad was conquered by the Spanish Empire. However, the underpopulated island encouraged planters from the French Caribbean islands to settle after the French Revolution and many migrated here, bringing their slaves and system of farming with them. It is from this group that the tradition of celebrating Lent originated and continued after the British conquered the island in 1797.

Originally, there was a Carnival for the white ruling elite, similar to the Masquerade, and a secret Carnival for everyone else called the Canboulay, or ‘burnt cane’. Elements of both eventually merged to form the modern-day celebrations.

Trinidad Carnival Programme

Trinidad Carnival
The Trinidad Carnival is a colourful explosion of exuberance.

The Calypso King or Queen is crowned in Dimanche Gras. The Monarch from the previous year faces off against those who would take away his or her crown. This can go on quite late so keep track of time or you might not get enough sleep before the main event begins the following day.

Monday starts early with J’Ouvert, from the French for ‘break of day’, when crowds congregate in the streets covered in oil, mud, paint, powder, grease and even chocolate. Dance in the street to greet the rise of the sun. Do not wear any clothes you want to wear again. Similarly, expect big hugs from everyone around you. It’s free and fun.

Over the next two days the Masquerade bands march and dance with their followers in costume joining them in what is called ‘playing mas’ locally. Each one will have a particular theme or motif.

Around the Carnival season are the fetes or private parties. Often all-inclusive, these vary from those in luxurious hotels to cheaper events in clubs and bars.

These two days are your chance to become part of the Carnival. This is how you can do so.

Joining the Masquerade

When you choose your band, look to see if it is all-inclusive, in that many now include food and drinks over the two days, which makes things convenient. Prices range from about £150 to over £800.

Trinidad Carnival
Choose your costume carefully

In choosing your band, a good site to visit is It’s Carnival, where you will find 25 to 30 groups and a short blurb on each. Find one that appeals to you then paste the name into your search engine to get in touch with them directly.

Can’t make this carnival, then try our round-up of the best carnivals around the world.

Each one prioritises a different aspect. Some make claims of longevity or are attached to a well-known name, perhaps a singer or a fashion designer, or both. For some the focus is on costume design, one states that the design is “green”, others are family organised, one focuses on “customer service” and another is from the Catholic Church.

Do your research and choose a long time before you go.

As part of your preparations, get ready to wine, in other words to gyrate your hips. You can practice using YouTube, or pick it up as you go along. All you have to do is move your hips in a figure of eight. Got it? Great, then off you go. Keep it up for a couple of days.

Your Costume

When you collect your costume, it will come with the shorts/bikini, head pieces and leg/arm/wrist bands, etc. You can augment with makeup, glitter, body paint etc.

Your costume will come in one of two types, option 1: revealing, option 2: very revealing. Should you have toned up a bit before deciding to do all this? Only you know the answer to that.

Remember to bombard friends and family with lots of photos. Carpe diem.

Carnival is to let us remember the history. On the festival day, we can express our feelings through some souvenirs. Due to the exquisite quality of challenge coins, people usually choose custom challenge coins to commemorate certain festivals or anniversaries. One of the main reasons we always look forward to the holidays is because we can receive or prepare gifts for our loved ones. Personalised gifts can bring an extra sense of well-being to the recipient. These customized gifts can better reflect your intentions.

Thinking of taking a holiday in Trinidad and Tobago? Read Caribbean Getaway: Trinidad or Tobago?

Trinidad Carnival 2023 Dates

The carnival is on 21 and 22 February, 2023.

Accommodation in Trinidad

If you are looking for accommodation for the Trinidad Carnival fill in the form below.

Flights to Port of Spain, Trinidad

There are direct flights to Port of Spain from Toronto, Houston, New York, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

More information on the Trinidad Carnival

If you need more information about the carnival and for things to do in Trinidad and Tobago, visit here.


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