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Martinique Carnival History


The Martinique Carnival: an integral part of the country's history

Born in the city of Saint Pierre, the Carnival of Martinique mixes African culture and European Catholic tradition. During the 17th and 18th centuries, it was reserved for the island's rich colonists who organized large masked balls in the European style.

In 1848, the Carnival underwent its first major change. With the end of slavery, the festivities opened up to a wider public and became more popular. Carnival traditions were enriched by the Creole culture, its beliefs, its instruments and its dances.

Later, in 1902, the eruption of Mount Pelee interrupted the life of the island. 30 000 people died in the disaster. The mourning Martinique will suspend the Carnival for two years.

Today, the tradition of Carnival continues and gives him each year to a festival in Martinique, mainly in Fort-de-France. If you are in the city in February, it will be very difficult for you to escape!


Joy, color and music: join the Carnival parades

The parades begin after Epiphany, in early January. Every weekend, during the Carnival period, many activities await you. Events consisting of street bands and people in disguise parade through all the municipalities of the island.

These parades already announce the color of the festivities to come. The most important Carnival events take place during the fat days: Sunday, Monday, Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday (from February 23 to February 26). Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday are public holidays in Martinique.

Ash Wednesday symbolizes the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent. The carnival emblem called "Vaval" is burned to mark the end of the festivities. Everyone gathers around this giant fire and mourns the death of the king of Vaval.

In each commune, the Martinique people organize the election of their queen. The latter will then march at the head of the parade in Saint-Pierre.

Europcar advice :

  • For all carnival events in downtown Fort-de-France, we advise you to arrive between 1 and 2 hours in advance.

  • Parking is difficult in this area and parking spaces are scarce, given the number of participants and spectators of the carnival.

  • Know the dates of this year's carnival

All closed and open parking lots in downtown Fort-de-France are free during the fat days. Among them :

  • Cour Perrinon parking lot

  • Parking of Pointe-Simon

  • Parking de la Savane. 

Finally, don't worry about the climate, at this time of the year in Martinique, it is about 28°C in the shade.

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