It’s Carnival time in Miami with a rousing celebration of Caribbean culture
Miami Carnival 2022 at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Expo Center is expected to draw thousands this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Miami Carnival)
It was the late 1970s and 80s when an influx of Caribbean people moved to Miami, according to Marlon Hill, general counsel for the Miami Broward OneCarnival. They could see that Miami had all the ingredients to create the city’s own Carnival.
That was almost four decades ago.
“We have evolved over the years, with a few bumps in the road, but always coming out victorious. We are grateful to have 38 years under our belt and look forward to passing the baton to our youth to continue our legacy,” says Joan Hinkson-Justin, chair of Miami Broward One Carnival Host Committee.
Hill recalls that the first Miami Carnival in 1984 was a street parade in Miami Gardens. For Hill, Carnival is a vital part of Caribbean life, whether people are from Trinidad, Haiti, or Barbados. “It is an important part of our history, of our self-expression, and whenever Caribbean communities migrate to other countries, they take their traditions and their cultures with them, including Carnival.”
Miami is a kaleidoscope of Caribbean culture, says Hinkson-Justin. “The events (in Miami Carnival) consist of a thoughtfully curated celebration of the Caribbean through pageantry, music, food, arts and crafts, and cultural experiences,” she says about this weekend’s events.
In the diaspora, across the world, carnivals happen at different times of the year. Miami’s carnival, which takes place in October, is the last major one. “Miami Carnival is the last on the circuit. It has always taken place on Columbus Day weekend. It sets the tone before Trinidad and Tobago in February,” according to Hinkson-Justin.
While there are signature events throughout the weekend, perhaps the biggest is Carnival Day, which features the Miami Carnival Parade of Bands and Soca Concert on Sunday, Oct. 9. Events begin at 11 a.m. and continue through 11 p.m. on the grounds of the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo.
More than 20 masquerade bands including Bajan Fuh Evah, Big & Strong/One Island Mas Band, Break Awae Kru, Collective Mas, Dingolay, D-Junction Mas, Euphoria Mas, Freaks Mas, Fusion Mas, GenX, will join what the organizers expect to be thousands of masqueraders dancing through the parade route during Sunday’s big event. The bands will compete for a prize and the coveted title of “Band of the Year.”
Following the parade, comes the Soca concert, which will showcase international artists from Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua, Haiti, St. Lucia, and South Africa.
Taking part for the first time is Haitian singer Jonathan Perry, a.k.a. J.Perry, who promises to bring “vibes in Kreyol and English to remind people that it is all about one Caribbean and one love, no matter the language. The Miami-Broward carnival is a great thing for us Caribbean people. We all get to come together to share our culture with people from all over the world with our music, food, art and just share good and positive energy,” says Perry.
The weekend is filled with events including the steelpan competition, Panorama, in the Carnival Village North in Lauderhill, on Friday, Oct. 7. Then, the day before the Mas Day Parade, its Miami Carnival’s J’Ouvert Mas street party, at the Expo Center beginning at 7 a.m. through 3 p.m.
Traditionally, the J’Ouvert Mas, starts before dawn the day before the main event as revelers dance into daylight with the rising of the sun, caked in mud, oil and other pasty materials.
This year, the new addition of the J’Ouvert Jam Zone, an immersive experience, offers attendees to dutty up with paint and powder to go wild while jamming to performances by Iwer George, Skinny Banton, and Tallpree.
Organizers expect a new level of excitement after a virtual 2020 event because of the pandemic and then a timid comeback in 2021.
“Coming out of this pandemic, everyone is really looking forward to reconnecting with their friends and their extended family during this carnival season,” says Hill.
WHAT: Miami Carnival 2022
WHEN: Panorama competition, 4 to 11 p.m., Friday, Oct. 7; J’ouvert Mas, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 8, and concert and parade, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9
WHERE: All at Miami Dade County Fair & Expo Center, 10901 Coral Way (SW 24th Street), Miami, except for Panorama at Central Broward Regional Park, 3700 NW 11th Place, Lauderhill.
COST: $25, $40, $50, $60, $250, $2,500 (not including fees)
INFORMATION: 305.653.1877 or miamicarnival.org