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Spring is in the air for the St. Thomas Carnival, held in April. In its 61st continuous year, the St. Thomas Carnival is known for its wow factor, named one of the top ten Carnivals in the world by USA Today and featured in the Discovery Channel HD’s “Fantastic Festivals of the World” television special. Thousands participate in the closing parade, in troupes often topping 200 members, all with as much glitter and glitz as they can muster. Leading up to that grand finale, a month of fun activities are planned, such as boat races, games, Carnival Queen, Prince and Princess pageants and musical competitions.
The whole family can get involved, with everything from the Toddler Race to the Senior Quelbe Tramp. Musical entertainment takes center stage as well, with the Steel Pan Jamboree, Latin and Soca nights and the coveted Calypso King competition, where singers comment on life with social and political satire.
The last week of Carnival is an all-out party. The Carnival Village is the place to be, with rides, games, food, drinks and live music every night. The final Wednesday brings the Cultural Fair, held in Charlotte Amalie’s Emancipation Park, with local food, arts and crafts, plants and produce. In the wee hours of Thursday, the J’Ouvert Tramp has thousands of revelers dancing down the Waterfront behind their favorite local bands. Children get their day in the sun with the Children’s Parade on Friday, and Saturday is the big adult parade down Main Street, an explosion of color and frenetic energy, culminating with fireworks in the harbor.
St. John Festival
With a homespun feel reflecting the personality of this quaint island, the St. John Festival can be traced back to colonial days. Today it is held in honor of the emancipation of slaves in 1848. The Festival starts in June and ends on the Fourth of July, U.S. Independence Day. Families are the focus of the festivities, with bicycle races, boat races, traditional games, cultural presentations and live music. Local cooks show off their best tasty treats during the last week at Festival Village and a pre-dawn tramp brings the whole island to Cruz Bay for dancing in the streets. The big parade is followed by fireworks over the water.
The Crucian Christmas Carnival
"Happy holidays" takes a new meaning on St. Croix. The Crucian Christmas Carnival is held from mid-December through Christmas and ends with a parade on Three Kings Day, January 6. Tradition is the focal point, with old-time games, dances, races, a donkey derby, marathons, Carnival royalty, a J’Ouvert tramp and a food fair. The Band-O-Rama, Calypso Monarch and junior calypso competitions are highlights of the celebration. There are Latin and reggae nights and live music for the week of Carnival Village, all leading up to the children’s parade and extravagant adult parade, with closing fireworks.
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