Saint Lucia is all about Carnival and Calypso in June and July and if you are visiting the island during that time, you should try and experience some of the fun.
It is almost a decade since Saint Lucia Carnival celebrations were moved from a pre-Lenten event in February to July to encourage more visitors to the Festival as the island would not have to compete with Trinidad and Tobago who traditionally host the biggest Caribbean carnival.
What makes Saint Lucia Carnival unique is the presence of so many cultural art forms in one festival including theatre, music, dance, song, costumes and drama. And no matter where you are staying on island, you will be able to partake in some of the festivities.
A lot of the Saint Lucia Carnival will focus on soca and calypso, an excellent avenue for local artistes to present their new music for the season. The crowds are also introduced to the contestants vying for the Carnival Queen title. The Carnival Bands give the audience a glimpse of their costumes when their models parade the stage and interested persons can sign up almost immediately with the band of their choice as booths are set up by the various Bands for that very purpose.
The origins of Calypso music, a true Caribbean art form, can be traced back to the early 1900s in Trinidad when songs became a way of spreading news around the island. The music continued to evolve and in the early 1930s it became very popular in Trinidad for its clever lyrics that creatively criticized politicians, corruption and scandal as well as making more lighthearted commentary on topics of the day around the island.
As stars emerged, serious competition rose from Calypsonians to outdo each other with crafty insults, innuendo and gossip about
their competitors and political opponents. The colonial governments of the day were even forced to invoke censorship to keep control of what was being said. Calypsonians responded by becoming even more clever with their lyrics. Calypso was introduced to the world in a much subdued form in 1956 when Harry Belafonte released his album titled “Calypso” that contained the smash hit “Day-O”, also known as the “Banana Boat Song”. While the song lacked the creative message driven lyrical content of Trinidadian Calypso, the rhythm and musical style won fans everywhere, particularly on every English speaking Caribbean island, including Saint Lucia.
Calypso in Saint Lucia reaches its climax during Carnival celebrations when there are a number of serious competitions that culminate in one artist being recognized as the best, the Calypso Monarch. Overseen by the local Calypsonian association, Saint Lucia has five Calypso Tents with a total of over 120 registered Calypsonians. Preliminary competitions begin within each tent and reach an almost fever pitch through the month of June as artists and tents release songs to be played on the radio and performed live at various venues island wide.
Each tent must judge the songs and select artists that will move on to the semi-finals which will be held on July 2 in Castries where 18 Calypsonians perform two songs each. Judges select the top nine performers to move on to the finals on July 16 to compete against the reigning Calypso Monarch, who automatically qualifies.
Seven judges, using strict criteria, judge the songs on lyrics, presentation, melody, arrangement and rendition to select this year’s Monarch. Visitors to Saint Lucia are welcome to enjoy the Calypso and attend competitions.
If you are staying at Soufriere resorts Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain, the resorts’ guest services team will assist you in your personal carnival planning. Musical performers and staff are happy to explain the lyrics and importance of songs in the competition. Leading up to the finals there will also be a chance to hear some of the competitors performing live in Soufriere area clubs to generate excitement for their songs.
For more införmation about Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain, visit www.ansechastanet.com and www.jademountain.com. Summer free night promotions are available at both properties. To book, you may also call 1-800-223-1108
2011 Carnival Calendar♣ Soca Village International Quarter Final 5:00 pm Sunday 19th June 2011 National Cultural Centre♣ De Soca-Lypso Revue – Quarter Final 8:00 pm Tuesday 21st June 2011 National Cultural Centre♣ NG Soca Stage 8:00 pm Wednesday 22nd June 2011 National Cultural Centre♣ Party in De Yard 5:00 pm Friday 24th June 2011 Radio Caribbean Car Park♣ South Calypso Tent – Quarter Final 8:00 pm Friday 24th June 2011 National Cultural Centre♣ Ambassadors Calypso Tent – Quarter Final 8:00 pm Saturday 25th June 2011 National Cultural Centre♣ Wet Fete 2:00 pm Sunday 26th June 2011 Samaans Park♣ Take Over Tent – Quarter Final 8:00 pm Sunday 26th June 2011 National Cultural Centre♣ Groovy Soca Preliminaries 8:00 pm Wednesday 29th June 2011 National Cultural Centre♣ Party in De Yard 5:00 pm Friday 1st July 2011 Radio Caribbean Car Park♣ RC Jam 6:00 pm Friday 1st July 2011 ♣ NG Soca Stage 9:00 pm Friday 1st July 2011 National Cultural Centre♣ Calypso Semi- Final 7:00 pm Saturday 2nd July 2011 Philip Marcellin Grounds, Vieux Fort♣ Party Monarch Preliminaries 4:00 pm Sunday 3rd July 2011 Philip Marcellin Grounds, Vieux Fort♣ Party in De Yard 5:00 pm Friday 8th July 2011 Radio Caribbean Car Park♣ Groovy Soca Final 8:00 pm Friday 8th July 2011 ♣ National Carnival Queen Show 8:00 pm Saturday 9th July 2011 National Cultural Centre♣ Kaiso Headquarters 8:00 pm Saturday 9th July 2011 Police Headquarters Car Park♣ Junior Carnival 1:00 pm Sunday 10th July 2011 Castries City Circuit♣ Color Me Red 10:00 pm Wednesday 13th July 2011 Gaiety♣ Inter-commercial House Calypso 8:00 pm Thursday 14th July 2011 National Cultural Centre♣ Party in De Yard 5:00 pm Friday 15th July 2011 Radio Caribbean Car Park♣ Panorama 8:00 pm Friday 15th July 2011 Beausejour Cricket Ground♣ Outrageous Sexy in Black 10:00 pm Friday 15th July 2011 Gaiety Car Park♣ Calypso Monarch Final 8:00 pm Saturday 16th July 2011 Beausejour Cricket Ground♣ Power Soca Monarch Final / King & Queen of the Band 8:00 pm Sunday 17th July 2011 ♣ J’ Ouvert 4:00 am Monday 18th July 2011 Castries City Circuit♣ Carnival Pageant 10:00 am Monday 18th July 2011 Choc Roundabout to Castries♣ Parade of the Bands 10:00 am Tuesday 19th July 2011 Choc Roundabout to Castries♣ Prize Giving Ceremony 8:00 pm Friday 19th August 2011