Take loud drum and calypso beats, glittering and feathered costumes, mouthwatering food, lots of drinks and thousands ofhappy people, blend them all together and enjoy the most cultural festivity on St Martin/St Maarten: the Caribbean Carnival.

 

The island's wildest celebration, held on both sides but on different dates.

The French carnival fever takes hold during Lent where 'jump-ups' and huge parades color the streets of Marigot and Grand-Case. Zouk and reggae fills every corner with performances from popular local and international bands. A larger celebration is held in April on the Dutch side where the island comes to a standstill for over 17 days and nights. For months locals put their souls into sewing Carnival costumes and writing songs ready for the big celebrations. Some of the most beautiful creations of previous carnival seasons are at display inside the Jump Up Casino in Philipsburg. Go there to get a true taste of Sint Maarten Carnival, even if you missed the original celebration.

Each Carnival inspires a fresh and marvelous batch of calypso, often satirical and politically charged. The Calypsonians will compete for the title of Calypso King or Queen, a contest that draws hundreds of musicians and dancers from all the neighboring islands. If the partygoers are not hitting the street they are most likely to be jammin' in Carnival Village which sits on the edge of Philipsburg and is constructed just for the carnival.

More than a hundred booths are there to serve you food, from traditional 'Johnny cakes' and 'fungi' to Indian curry and 'roti', enough to make your taste buds go wild. If you think you've seen dirty dancing, wait till you experience the 'bumping and grinding' of the locals. The rhythm is so pervasive there's no escaping the beat, you won't even want to. So come and seek the heart of St. Martin's Carnival extravaganza and leave with memories that will make you smile.