Caribbean Carnival may have once been a seasonal event, but you can enjoy the festivities all year long now, thanks to celebrations around the globe. Seems like whenever you find more that two island folk, a carnival celebration won’t be far behind. But not all international carnival events are equal. So we’ve gathered our favorite carnival events outside the Caribbean, from brass bands in Rotterdam to Canadian costume showdowns.
Notting Hill Caribbean Carnival: London, UK
First held in 1966 by the local Caribbean community, the Notting Hill Caribbean Carnival has become one of the largest street festivals in the world, regularly attracting around one million people every year. Notting Hill Carnival is held every August in London, in the iconic Notting Hill neighborhood, which was once a stronghold immigrant community. The event is still organized and managed by the people of British West Indian communities and it is a significant happening for the Black British culture in London. Now a staple of British culture, it was also voted as one of the nation’s icons.
Caribana: Toronto, Canada
The Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival (more commonly and fondly known as Caribana) lights up Toronto in a sea of color every summer. Founded in 1967, the carnival was first organized by the local Caribbean immigrant community to share their culture with Canadians and raise funds for a cultural center. The event has evolved from these humble origins, becoming one of the largest cultural festivals in all of North America. The three-week festivities include fetes, panorama competitions, j’ouvert and the traditional band of parades.
West Indian Day Parade: New York, NY
The streets of New York City are filled with thumbing sound systems every Labor Day weekend for the West Indian Day Parade. The origins of the event go way back to the 1920s, among private parties in Harlem. By the 1947, Trinidadian native Jesse Waddle organized the first Labor Day carnival parade. It soon evolved into the parade today under the leadership of West Indian-American Day Carnival Association, first headed by Carlos Lezama. Highlights include a steel band competition, a Dimanche Gras (Fat Sunday) extravaganza and a special Kiddie Carnival.
Miami Broward Carnival: Miami, FL
From the first humble beginnings as a street parade in Miami Gardens in 1984, Miami Broward Carnival has evolved into a world-class festival. The event now attracts top mas band designers, popular soca stars and thousands of Caribbean carnival aficionados every year. Miami Broward Carnival now includes a steel band competition, a junior carnival competition, j’ouvert and a blowout parade of bands at the Miami-Dade Fairgrounds.
Zomercarnaval: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
This vibrant festival held every year in Rotterdam owes it origins to some homesick students. In 1984, a small group of students of Curaçao and Aruban descent gathered together to organize the first outing which became the Zommercarnival we know today. Attracting nearly a million visitors every year, the festival includes a carnival queen competition, the Zomercarnaval Beach Party and the ever popular Battle of the Drums.