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St John Carnival, USA

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What is Saint John’s Carnival?

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St John’s Carnival or Saint John’s Carnival is a large carnival celebration held in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Carnival is a combination of the celebration of carnival traditions with emancipation and independence. The carnivals on the island of San Juan are a large celebration lasting almost a month, including pre-Carnival events with music, food fair, parades, fireworks and J’ouvert.

Although San Juan has a very small population, it becomes a great scene of celebration during Carnival. St John’s Carnival combines the excitement of carnival with the spirit of emancipation, as the festivities are celebrated through July 4. In addition, the festivities blend in with the wonderful, privileged scenery that the island of St John possesses.

 

The streets of the island go into commotion the maremoto of people who want to be part of the carnivals. From the youngest to the oldest, people come to the streets to see themarvelous colorful parades, the carrozas and the tens of people in large zancos. The music shakes the city every night so that everyone comes out to celebrate with the bestCaribbean vibe that the island has to offer.

Come to the island and take part in one of the most special celebrations of San Juan, the opening of the Carnival Village, the gastronomic fair, the parade or the exciting4th of July fireworks show.

 

St John's Carnival is a celebration that blends carnivals and the Fourth of July

St John’s Carnival is a celebration that blends carnivals and the Fourth of July

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When is St John’s Carnival

The Saint John Carnival is a celebration that does not take place during the traditional dates, as it takes place during the summer commemorating patriotic dates of the country. The festivities take place in late June and traditionally culminates on July 4 with a Carnival parade.

The San Juan Carnival begins on June 25 and culminates on July 4, including pre-Carnival celebrations and official events.

 

 

History of Saint John Carnivals

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Carnivals are probably the oldest celebration in the world originating in Europe. In Ancient Rome they were celebrated as a festival of veneration of the gods. During the Middle Ages the carnival began to expand to various areas of Europe, mainly in the central region. However, the tradition came to occupy much of the continent in a very short time.

Carnival began to form an important part of the identity of cities such as Rome and Venice, celebrating the festival in an exacerbated way before the period of Christian Lent. The entire population used to consume large amounts of food, since during Lent they had to comply with the religious breakfast. Over time, carnival festivities began to expand their range of activities and began to include large celebrations that included masks, parades and shows.

The use of masks and costumes began to form an important part of the festivities and people adopted them very easily. The purpose of the masks was to become a different person during the festivities, to give a break from everyday life and transform into a person who could do and undo at will.

Although carnivals were popular festivals and almost everyone was part of them, in reality, they were very little tolerated with religious and governmental authorities. Due to their sinful, immoral and unethical nature, carnivals were almost entirely suppressed through censorship and constant bans, but these did not die out entirely, as several people took it upon themselves to perform them in secret.

The banning of the feasts bore little fruit, so they ended up being more or less tolerated as they became more or less civilized celebrations. Although the church does not take carnival celebrations as part of its festivities, carnivals have remained pre-Lenten festivals, so they have a close relationship.

When the colonization process of the New World began, carnivals arrived to the Latin American and Caribbean countries. European traditions were imposed, both religious and carnival, creating a unique syncretism between European, African and Creole festivals. The carnival festivities were deeply rooted in the identity of the Caribbean and Latin America, being strongly celebrated every year.

The tradition of Carnival arrived in the Virgin Islands in 1912 during the last years of Danish occupation. The festivities began to be celebrated first in Saint Thomas and then reached Saint John. The carnival had some periods of intermittency due to the war conflicts, emerging again in 1952. Although the festivities have emerged from European and African traditions, once the island became part of the United States, the carnival was integrated with the Emancipation festivities and the Fourth of July.

 

Where is Saint John’s Carnival

The Carnival is held on St John’s Island, Virgin Islands of theUnited States.

St John has a total area of 50.78 square kilometers where 4,170 inhabitants live.

 

People wear colorful costumes at the St John Carnival

People wear colorful costumes at the St John Carnival

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How is St John’s Carnival celebrated

St John’s Carnival is the largest festival on the island, which combines the traditional celebrations of Carnival with the 4th of July. The Saint John Carnival celebrations have a wide schedule of activities that begin long before the official carnivals. In addition, the activities that take place occupy diverse genres such as musical concerts, queen election, food fairs and much more.

The Saint John Carnival has some characteristic elements that stand out within the whole celebration.

 

Carnival Village

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This is a central part of the Saint John Carnival. The enclosure is located in Cruz Bay and becomes the meeting point for both children’s and adult activities during the carnival. On the grounds you’ll find a big tropical food fair and music every night. The village functions as an epicenter where you can come and go as you please and where the most musical and entertainment events take place.

 

J’ouvert

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The J’ouvert is one of the most emblematic events of the Caribbean carnival festivities. During the event, thousands of people gather to be part of a big festive event full of music and a celebratory atmosphere. The event is characterized by taking place well early in the early morning and extends until dawn. In addition, the event features a large paint war, talc, mud and water, making it a great event to get dirty and have fun.

The event is more than an event to entertain, it is an event that is highly attached to the identity characteristics of the Caribbean. The J’ouvert was first celebrated in the Caribbean after the abolition of slavery, when people were finally free to party without measures or prohibitions. During the J’ouvert, many people decide to dress up in traditional items such as chains and masks, but many others decide to opt for the more comfortable, as the event involves getting dirty.

 

Pan-O-Rama

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The Panorama or Pan-O-Rama is another celebration in common with the rest of the Caribbean. The event features a great competition of bands and musicians, who have percussion instruments known as steelpans or Trinidad and Tobago Metal Drums. These instruments form an important part of the Carnival culture in the Caribbean and much of the musical entertainment arises from these instruments.

During the event, a fierce competition is held to win the title of winner of the edition. The Panorama is one of the most widely attended celebrations and features local and international bands.

Emancipation Program

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During this day the history of the island and its people is commemorated. A large number of commemorative and cultural events are held during the day that pay homage to the identity of the islanders. In general, there are musical concerts, recitations of poems, theatrical presentations and dances. In addition, there are also food fairs and the sale of various handicrafts.

 

Regattas

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Like some other Caribbean islands, the boat race or Regattas is one of the main events of the festivities. During the day, a series of motorized boat competitions are held in the bay. The atmosphere of the whole celebration is pleasant and in the vicinity of the bay there are various tents and food stalls. As always, the whole event is enlivened by some live music.

 

Introduction of Royalty

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This is a small event involving the candidates for Carnival Queen. The candidates are introduced to the population. Normally the event is held in Cruz Bay, but it can be held anywhere else on the island. In addition, a dance routine is also performed and they make a short speech.

 

Tips for going to the Saint John Carnivals

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If you wish to attend the Saint John Carnivals, we recommend you to plan your trip in advance, make a travel itinerary and book the accommodation of your choice in advance. Also, remember to pack comfortable clothes so you can fully enjoy the carnivals.

Due to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, weather and physical activity, your body can quickly become dehydrated. For this reason, we recommend staying hydrated and applying sunscreen frequently. Also, if possible, try to stay in the shade to avoid sunburn.

If you decide to rent a car in the islands, remember that you drive on the left, so you should prepare yourself in advance. If the change is a bit difficult for you, it is better to mobilize yourself through other means of transportation.

 

 

Events at Saint John’s Carnival

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Royalty Introduction

Time: 5pm

Place: Cruz Bay

 

Bread-o-rama

Time: 4pm

Place: Franklin Powell Park.

 

Bicycle Race

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Time: 8am

Place: St John National Park

 

Junior Prince and Princess Contest

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Time: 6pm

Place: St John National Park

 

Carnival Queen Competition

Time: 8pm

Place: St John National Park

 

Food Fair and Queen Coronation

Time: 1pm

Venue: Franklin Powell

 

Regatta

Time: 3pm

Place: Cruz Bay Harbor.

 

Carnival Village Opening

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Time: 7pm-10pm

Place: Cruz Bay Parking Lot

 

Children’s Village

Time: 6pm

Place: St John National Park

 

Opening of “Membersville” Village

Time: 7pm-10pm

Time: Cruz Bay Parking Lot

 

Emancipation Program

Time: 1pm

Place: Cruz Bay Parking Lot

 

Parade of Torches

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Time: 6pm

Place: Cruz Bay Parking Lot

 

J’ouvert

Time: 5am

Place: St John National Park

 

Parade

Time: 11am

Place: St John National Park

 

Fireworks Spectacle

Time: 9pm

Place: Cruz Bay Harbor

 

Musical Mix

Time: 9pm

Venue: St John National Park

 

Poker Run

Time: 12pm

Place:Port of Cruz Bay.

 

St John Carnival Parades Feature Great Entertainment

St John Carnival Parades Feature Great Entertainment

 

St John’s Carnival Parades

 

The parade is held on the 4th of July is one of the happiest and most moving events of the entire carnival. Everyone participates in the event, both children and adults. Several groups take to the streets to perform dances and performances, as well as to make certain messages of protest. People on big stilts with colorful costumes, walk up and down the street gracefully. Several groups of children are part of the parade performing acrobatics with sticks and performing various choreographies led by a representative.

The whole event is accompanied by metal drum bands and large trucks with loudspeakers. The floats join the festivities with large colorful decorations and dozens of people dancing on them.

The parade ends with a big fireworks show at 9 pm. The show is one of the most wonderful and mesmerizing scenes of the carnival, as it pays homage to the patriotic date of the United States..

 

Parade route

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Bands storm the streets during St John Carnival

Bands storm the streets during St John Carnival

 

The St John Carnival Parade on the 4th of July takes place on the main thoroughfares of Cruz Bay. The event is attended by all islanders, including adults and children.

The parade is a great colorful spectacle filled with costumes, floats, dances, acrobatics and musical bands from beginning to end.

 

The Calalú is a typical dish of the Caribbean

The Calalú is a typical dish of the Caribbean

 

What to eat at Saint John’s Carnival

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The gastronomy of the island of Saint John of the U.S. Virgin Islands is extremely varied and has delicious dishes both sweet and savory. The food of the island has some similarities with the rest of the Caribbean islands, but with some specific differences that make the difference between each of the dishes.

One of the most characteristic dishes of Saint John’s gastronomy is the Calalú or Callaloo. Calalú is a vegetarian dish made with green leafy vegetables such as taro and amaranth. The recipe can vary on each island, so some dishes have coconut milk, crab, lobster, meat, pumpkin or hot peppers, so the combinations are endless.

In addition, you also have one of the most popular snacks in the Caribbean: Johnny Cakes. These snacks are small fried breads that can be eaten alone or accompanied with fried chicken. The bread is made with wheat flour, a little sugar, milk, vegetable shortening and salt. All the ingredients are mixed until a homogeneous dough is obtained and then fried in abundant oil.

Cruz Bay also offers a large number of places where you can go to try a large number of traditional, Caribbean and American dishes. Some of the most popular options on the island are: Extra Virgin Bistro, La Tapa, The Terrace Restaurant, Ocean 362, Morgan’s Mango Restaurant, BananaKeet Café, Cruz Bay Landing, De’ Coal Pot, The Longboard – Coastal Cantina, Coral Bay Caribbean Oasis, Indigo Grill, Uncle Joe’s Barbecue, The Lime Inn and Ekaete Pink Corner.

 

Johnny Cakes are Caribbean fry breads

Johnny Cakes are Caribbean fry breads

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What to see and do inside Saint John’s Carnival

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Carnival has a good number of events that you can participate in during the carnival festivities. The Saint John Island Carnival Village has the necessary spaces for you to enjoy a large number of cultural and musical events. In addition, there are also several shows that will liven up the festivities for both adults and children.

The J’ouvert is one of the celebrations that you definitely cannot skip, as it is the very spirit of the festivities. If you want to participate in the event, remember that it’s early in the morning and that you should wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. The Grand Carnival Parade is also one of the main events of the festivities and is held on July 4 to commemorate the patriotic dates of the United States. During the day you will see dozens of people walking through the streets with colorful costumes and floats of various sizes, as well as live music and bands. The event ends with a grand fireworks show.

Don’t forget to attend events such as food fairs and boat races so that you can have a full experience of these wonderful carnivals on Saint John Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Guided tours in Spanish around the world

 

What to see and do outside of Saint John Carnivals

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The island of St John boasts a good number of tourist attractions that you definitely don’t want to miss when attending the carnivals.

 

Maho Bay Beach

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It is a nice and quiet beach where you can snorkel and see turtles and manta rays. The beach has some services such as barbecue grills and bathrooms. We recommend arriving early and leaving before sunset, as mosquitoes invade the beach at night.

 

Trunk Bay Beach

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It is a beautiful beach where you can snorkel, swim or walk along the coast. The beach has clean waters and fine white sands. Nearby you can find several services such as restrooms and some food stalls.

 

Salomon Beach

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It is an incredible beach with turquoise waters and fine white sand. It is usually quite alone, so it is perfect for a quiet day. There is no snorkeling at this beach, but you can swim, sunbathe, stroll or hang out with friends and family.

 

 

Weather at Saint John’s Carnival

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During the carnival festivities in July, the island of St John boasts warm weather, with temperatures ranging from 22 to 30 degrees Celsius. We recommend staying hydrated and applying sunscreen whenever your skin needs it.

 

Everyone celebrates St John's Carnival with joy

Everyone celebrates St John’s Carnival with joy

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How to get to St John’s Carnival

The only way to get to St John is via the island of St Thomas by sea. The main airport in St Thomas is Cyril E. King International Airport, which receives flights from the United States and some countries in Europe. Once there, you can take a ferry to head to Saint John.

How to get there by sea

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Once you are in St Thomas, you can take a ferry directly to St John. Ferries depart every three hours from Charlotte Amelie to Cruz Bay on St John. Once you are on the island of St John, you can take a cab to the center of town.

 

How to get there by car

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St John Island has a good car rental system, so you don’t have to worry about anything if you decide to get around by land. You can rent the car of your choice as soon as you set foot on the island.

In addition, there are also hundreds of cabs that you can take from any point of the island without any problem.