St. Kitts & Nevis National Carnival - Sugar Mas

DATE:

Fri, November 22, 2019 - Sat, January 4, 2020

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Visitors know it as the St. Kitts and Nevis National Carnival. The locals call it Sugar Mas. But whatever you refer to it as, one thing’s for sure: There’s no better way to experience Kittitian culture.

Sugar Mas regularly ranks as the Federation’s largest event. Running from November 22, 2019, to January 4, 2020, the 48th edition of the carnival will feature all of the festival’s old favorites — with the potential for a surprise or two.

Traditionally, the National Carnival opens on a Friday, rung in by a vibrant female calypso show. From there, the party keeps rolling: The coming weeks are marked by a series of fetes — lively celebrations — ranging from Blu’s powder-filled revelry to Flag & Wet’s unique blend of live music and waterworks.

If those festivities set the tone, J’Ouvert ramps it up. Meaning "I opened" in French, this early-morning parade kicks off the carnival’s street celebrations. Participants wake up well before daybreak, grouping up and hitting Downtown Basseterre’s roads as early as 4:00 a.m. By midday, the streets have cleared — but not before eight hours of paint- and water-soaked fun.

The country’s roads once again fill to capacity on Parade Day. A Kittitian take on the New Year’s Day parade, revelers don colorful feathered costumes before marching through the nation’s capital. The event also serves a cultural purpose: Folklore groups dominate the activities, introducing the crowd to moko jumbies, masqueraders, clowns, and other traditional figures.

In between those two events, the National Carnival serves nonstop entertainment. Qualifying rounds of the national soca and calypso competitions bring the country’s best performers to the same stage. Bar crawls and sunset cruises offer plenty of opportunities to mingle and discuss the day’s activities. Folkloric storytelling troupes bring the island’s rich history to life, and in the days leading up to the new year, crowds celebrate its present with the National Queen, Swimsuit, Mr. GQ, and Talented Teen Pageants.

After six weeks of partying, Sugar Mas draws to a close — but what better way to send it off than with one final bash? On January 2, revelers take to the streets for the Last Lap, the National Carnival’s concluding outdoor celebration. Amid singing and dancing, event officials announce the winners of the Best Carnival Troupe and Road March Song competitions — a fitting end for a festival that filled the Kittitian air with music and laughter.

Every year, the festival runs. And every year, people far and wide come to partake. Are you looking to plan a vacation you won’t soon forget? Stockpile your time off and mark your calendar: Sugar Mas is the best time to visit St. Kitts.
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