St. Thomas Carnival crowd

The large crowd at St. Thomas Carnival; credit USVI Tourism

St. Thomas Carnival

Carnival embodies the vibrancy of life in the St. Thomas and most of the Caribbean. This important cultural event includes jump-up parades with beautifully colored costumes, floats, live bands, beauty contests and other exciting competitions. Celebrations include a middle-of-the-night j’ouvert parade that ends at sunrise with the burning of a straw King Momo, cleansing sins and bad luck.

Having the largest population in the Virgin Islands, St Thomas has always been the leader of V.I Carnival. It is the sound of Johnny Cakes frying, the smell of local hot sauce, and the taste of Vienna cake that you find at the food fair. It is rich costumes, the sound of steel drums, and people dancing in the streets. Parades featuring Calypso shows are a remarkable celebration of freedom.

V.I. Carnival in St. Thomas is usually celebrated from mid-April to the beginning of May. Though it began in 1912, the event was not annualized until 1952. Since then, the V.I. Carnival has been a time to reconnect with family and friends and enjoy the captivating music, vivacious dance, savory cuisine, and remarkable pageantry that make V.I. Carnival one of the most popular celebrations in the Caribbean. The streets are filled wall-to-wall with parade dancers, lots and celebrants.

Usually a month long event from early April to early May, the kickoff event takes place around Market Square and features many performances by local and regional Caribbean musical artists. J’ouvert Warmup, ‘Rum, Powder and Mas,’ takes place on the Weymouth Rhymer Highway. Other activities planned include a motor boat race at the waterfront, where high-end vessels race for big cash prizes.

Additional attractions for the Carnival season include the Soca Monarch Village, Food Fair and the Cultural Day where groups and individuals celebrate different aspects of Virgin Islands tradition and culture.

The Children’s Parade on May 1 and the Adults’ Parade on May 2 will remain key fixtures for this year’s celebrations. As you might imagine the adults parade is not suitable for young children. The Carnival Village, which is free to the public, opens at the Fort Christian Parking Lot and highlights more musical entertainment.

In case you have enough vacation time and plan to island-hop, in the USVI, there are three Carnival events (St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix) to choose from, with each island celebrating at different times of the year.

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