Preparations are in full swing for the 45th Annual Carnival celebration taking place April 21 – May 5, 2014 on the idyllic island of St. Maarten.
The Carnival is the islands largest cultural celebration featuring colorful parades, pageants, musical performances and other activities culminating with the traditional “Burning of King Momo.” St. Maarten’s Carnival stands out among other regional celebrations due to the duration of this activity (two weeks) and the way locals embrace participating vacationers who get swept away in the revelry.
“We look forward to welcoming visitors not just to the beautiful shores of St. Maarten but to participate in St. Maarten’s Carnival, essentially the North Eastern Caribbean’s longest food and musical festival,” said Edward Dest, Interim Director of Tourism for the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau. “Experience our local tasty cuisine, such as conch and dumpling, grilled lobster, fish soup, curry goat and stew oxtail to name a few. Mix it up with one of the local or international shows, take part in one of the parades and a have blast.”
St. Maarten is the only place in the world that has two Carnivals – the first in February on the French side of the island (St. Martin) which could be seen as a dress rehearsal of sorts for the bigger celebration that takes place in April on the Dutch side of the island.
The April Carnival Season is one of the most exciting times to be in the Caribbean as residents and visitors to St. Maarten can invoke their Carnival spirit long before the two-week festival officially begins with events and competitions held as early as March 28. Pre-Carnival activities include the Cause-Way Jump Up on March 28, Senior Road March Competition on March 29, the Survivors Elementary School “Balloon Parade” on March 30, the Fete to Fitness Around Town Jump-Up on April 4, the Junior Calypso & Senior Eliminations on April 5, the Teen & Senior Speech & Cultural Competition on April 6, and the Rio Productions Lighted Parade on April 12.
The official celebration begins on April 21 with the Opening Jump Up for Carnival 2014 followed by the Miss Mature Queen Pageant on April 22 and the Teen & Senior Queen Pageant on April 23. The celebration continues with the start of the 2014 Carnival International Concert Series, which will kick-off with the International Zouk Concert on April 24 and the Night of The Hit Makers event on April 25.
The festivities are off to an early start on April 26 with the Jouvert Morning Jump Up beginning at 4 am. The International Concert Series continues with the Riddim Box Presents International Concert on April 26 followed by the Daybreak Breakfast Fete and PJD2 Caribbean Queen Pageant on April 27. The Senior Calypso Finals & Carnival Honors will then take place on April 28 which will be succeeded by another International Concert, Sabor Latino II on April 29.
The Junior & Grand Carnival Parade on April 30 is one of the most exciting events of the season, but things will not slow down on May 1 as the revelry continues into the Labour Day Parade where participants will don costumes that depict local heritage as they move their feet to the rhythms of cultural songs.
The International Concert Series closes with Where The Flex presents Reggae Night on May 2, after which the Youth Extravaganza will take place on May 3. The Carnival Season culminates with the Family Fun Day & Viliage Cook Out on May 4 and the Burning of King Momo on May 5. It is said that the Burning of King Momo rids the island of its sins leaving it fresh and revived until next year’s Carnival celebrations.
The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau is encouraging travelers planning a visit to St. Maarten coinciding with Carnival 2014 to book flights and accommodations early as rooms are expected to be sold out, especially in the Philipsburg capital where the Carnival Village will be located.
Visiting St. Maarten
St. Maarten is the smallest island in the world to be shared by two nations, Kingdom of the Netherlands and France, creating a European-influenced vibe with a Caribbean flair. As “the culinary capital of the Caribbean,” St. Maarten offers an eclectic array of cuisine fusion for food lovers with more than 365 restaurants, one for each day of the year to satisfy the tastes of every palate and pocketbook.
Located at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, the island’s 37 square miles has 37 breathtaking beaches and is home to many historical and family-oriented attractions. During the day, watersport enthusiasts can take full advantage of the island’s scuba diving and snorkeling facilities. The capital of Philipsburg offers duty-free shopping with a bustling city atmosphere, while 14 casinos and numerous nightclubs provide endless entertainment.
Accommodations are varied and include elegant private villas, family oriented resorts, quaint cottages and luxury spa resorts. Air service is available to Princess Juliana International Airport from numerous U.S. and Canadian cities as well as from Europe, South America and the Caribbean.
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