Carnival in Trinidad is still a go!

The National Carnival Commission shares the lineup for its first “Taste of Carnival," a mix of virtual and in-person events.

Trinidad’s National Carnival Commission has announced the lineup for what’s being called a “Taste of Carnival,” a combination of virtual and in-person events at spaces deemed safe zones. It’s a scaled-down version of the country’s carnival celebration — which has long been dubbed “The Greatest Show on Earth” — due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The events, which are set to kick off Friday, Feb. 4, with a virtual calypso tent, will also include live calypso tents, steel pan shows and the King and Queen of Carnival competitions. The schedule will also feature a Canboulay Riot reenactment, an important annual ode to Trindad’s revolutionary past, in which performers act out their ancestors’ revolt against colonial British forces, who attempted to outlaw Carnival celebrations.  

The 2022 Carnival festivities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will be held in late April rather than the final weekend of February, as the number of coronavirus cases in Brazil spikes and the omicron variant spreads across the country, officials said last week. (Photo: Leo Correa/AP, File)

“Here’s an opportunity for us to evolve the carnival and the culture. Here’s an opportunity for us to introduce even more creativity, adaptability and sustainability into the festival,” said NCC Chairman Winston Peters during a press conference Monday at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain, the nation’s capital. “Here is our opportunity to show the world that Trinidad and Tobago takes both its culture and people’s well-being and health seriously.” 

News of this year’s official lineup comes just weeks after the country’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts announced that although Trindad’s carnival would take place, there would be no parties and no parade of the bands. This decision, along with others — such as limiting safe-zone approved events to 50-percent capacity, controlled entry and exit points and sanitization stations — are all part of the effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

During Monday’s press conference, the carnival commission introduced the concept of pod seating, which will be instituted at the Queen’s Park Savannah, where many of the major carnival shows will be staged. The pods are miniature platforms without canopies. Some will hold a maximum of six people, while others can hold up to nine guests. Pods have become a trend at stadiums and large concert venues during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

All events taking place during the carnival season at venues designated as safe zones will only be accessible to vaccinated patrons and performers. 

The changes to this year’s festivities in Trinidad reflect the major ways in which the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact carnival, a global cultural industry and one of the biggest economic drivers across the Caribbean. The carnival industry has had to reimagine the ways in these cultural experiences are presented.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, for example has announced plans to host its Vincy Mas celebrations in the “metaverse,” complete with digital costume wearables, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), virtual cultural exhibits and a virtual parade.

In St. Lucia, this year’s staging of carnival has been dubbed “Vaxxed Mas.” There will be a parade of the bands. However, everyone participating, including revelers, patrons, support staff and service providers must be fully vaccinated.

Carnival festivities in Rio de Janeiro will now be held in late April rather than the traditional final weekend of February as the number of coronavirus cases and the omicron variant spikes in Brazil and spreads across that country.

Back in Trinidad, according to the National Carnival Commission, the “ Taste of Carnival” will be the platform on which they effectively market Carnival 2023. This year’s carnival events will be held through March 1.

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