Saint Lucia Carnival 2023 officially begins on 1 July and runs until 19 July. Global interest has grown in recent times and each year people flock to Saint Lucia to take part in the music, dance and cultural events.
The island’s first carnival was held in 1947, shortly after the Second World War. A few people in ragged clothes paraded through Castries making music with ‘bottle and spoon’. The following year, costumed bands, calypsonians and steel bands joined the carnival. As more and more organised groups gathered each year to parade around Saint Lucia, showcasing the most exuberant aspects of the island’s culture, Carnival quickly developed into a tradition. The rest is history, bringing us up to the 2023 Saint Lucia Carnival, nearly 80 years later.
Covid halted festivities for two years, so this year the stakes are high as Saint Lucia strives to rebuild that pre-pandemic momentum.
Numerous activities and events are scheduled, from music competitions to boat rides. The programme gets under way on Saturday 1 July when the country’s talented young women will vie for the title of 2023 National Carnival Queen Pageant. Young children will have their day in the spotlight on Sunday 9 July, celebrating their Caribbean culture by playing mas.
Music takes centre stage a few days later. First, it’s the Intercommercial Calypso Competition on Thursday 6 July. That’s followed by the National Soca Monarch contest on Friday 7 July, and the battle for the National Calypso Monarch crown takes place on Saturday 8 July. Rounding off the weekend, steelpan-players and their supporters have their moment at National Panorama Competition on Sunday 9 July.
The attention now turns to the colour, artistry and excitement of mas. On Monday 10 July, the most impressive costumes come out for the prestigious King and Queen of the Bands contest. In the early hours of Monday 17 July, paint and powder and powder will fly at National J’Ouvert. And the grand climax to it all is the Parade of the Bands on 17 and 18 July, when pretty mas in all its glory will rule the streets.
Contributing so much to the thrill of Carnival are the artists who participate in various competitions. This year, for instance, three-time Soca Monarch champion Alpha will be making a long-awaited comeback to the music scene by participating in the Groovy competition with his song Smoke. Also lined up for the Groovy Soca finals is renowned soca artiste Blaize, who will be generating some heat with his popular Temperature.
Carnival is far from the only attraction Saint Lucia offers. The country’s classic Caribbean combination of tropical weather and beautiful beaches has made it a renowned tourist destination. Sightseeing and water-based activities are popular with visitors.
All in all, Saint Lucia Carnival 2023 is generating tremendous anticipation. Historically, the Carnival has always surpassed expectations and this year promises to be no different.
You can relive memories of Saint Lucia Carnival 2022 by flipping through our Saint Lucia Carnival 2022 Souvenir Magazine.