4 Places to Celebrate Carnival in the Caribbean
Andrea Guthmann for Chicago Tribune
Carnival is about over-the-top, shed-your-inhibitions fun. Like Mardi Gras, it's traditionally a last chance for excess before the solemn season of Lent for Catholics.
The annual bash is practically synonymous with Rio de Janeiro. But it's also a big deal in the Caribbean, which, despite popular belief, isn't one homogeneous destination. Each Caribbean island has its own history, cuisine, culture — and its own take on Carnival.
On some islands, the event is tied to Catholic traditions. On others, it commemorates slave emancipation or the harvest.
Curaçao - Feb 26-28
The pounding beat of African tumba music fills the air at a Carnival that's lively but not as risque as the bashes on other islands. This is a Carnival you'd be comfortable taking the kids to.
The Feb. 26 and 28 parades are a big deal. Some 60 marching groups stream down the streets of Willemstad, a capital city so picture-perfect, you'll think you've landed on the movie set for a quaint Caribbean island.
Two good spots to enjoy the festivities are the Carnival Dome near the beginning of the parade route and the Carnival Tribune, near the end. Both have seating, music, food and drink.
Curaçao prides itself on making sure everyone can enjoy the party. Considered one of the Caribbean's most gay-friendly destinations, it has hotels catering to gay tourists and an annual gay pride parade.
"Our melting pot history has led to a progressive 'live and let live' philosophy that has long welcomed the LGBT community," says Andre Rojer of the Curaçao Tourist Board.