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Antigua’s Carnival is a flamboyant ten-day event held annually in late July and early August that draws many tourists to the destination to participate in this celebration of emancipation. Antigua’s Carnival features colourful costumes, parades, beauty pageants, talent shows and great music.
The festivities commence with an opening parade of bands and performing troupes wearing T-shirts showing the insignia of their respective companies, followed by the opening ceremony and fireworks. Dance and music competitions and beauty pageants then follow in the remaining days.
The most important day of the Carnival is j'ouvert (or juvé) when people awaken early and dance in the streets to the music of brass and steel bands. Beer is drunk freely and people’s bodies are painted with blue and brown paint.
Major events throughout the Carnival include the Panorama Steel Band Competition, the spectacular Parade of Bands, the Miss Antigua Beauty Pageant and the Caribbean Queen Competition. Also to be enjoyed during the non-stop revelry are local concerts, food fairs, cultural shows and parades. There is also a large Children’s Parade, where youngsters march through the streets in costumes which portray different themes, much in the same way as the adults.
The Carnival can trace its roots back to the 1800s when slavery was abolished and the people celebrated by taking to the streets and partying. Over the years, elements of those celebrations have been adopted and incorporated into the modern day Antigua Carnival.
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