“Whu you know bout Sugar Mas?” If the answer is “not a lot’ then prepare for this post to provide all the enlightenment you need. The St. Kitts and Nevis National Carnival, more commonly known as ‘Sugar Mas’ is an annual carnival beginning in November and ending in January.
Sugar Mas is known for blending the spirit of Christmas into its carnival celebrations with the island being overrun with carnival fever alongside the Christmas festivities; colourful costumes, displays, party goers and countless activities punctuate the season. Enjoyment is high and it is an experience to remember.
For Kittitians (pronounced Kittishin) and Nevisians (pronounced Neeveeshin) carnival is for moko jumbies, masqueraders, clowns, and other traditional figures. January 2nd is designated ‘The Last Lap’ where masqueraders complete the final part of the National Carnival’s outdoor celebrations. You won’t be surprised to find out the concluding programming includes singing and dancing with the event officials announcing the winners of the Best Carnival Troupe and Road March Song competition winners.
And what is carnival without fetes? If you are lucky enough to experience Sugar Mas you need to make time to take in the J’Ouvert fetes at Blu’s (if you like powder) and Flag & Wet’s unique blend of live music and waterworks. For the uninitiated, J’Ouvert is the fete that begins carnival. Literally translating to ‘I opened,’ J’ouvert fetes traditionally feature colourful powder, paint and water which participants get covered in while wining to some good good soca; if you can stomach the early start (J’Ouvert traditionally runs 2am-6am with carnival kicking off at 11am) then it’s definitely one you don’t want to miss.
If I’ve yet to convince you why you need to take a look at putting a visit to St. Kitts and Nevis for carnival on your bucket list then take a look at some of the many Youtube videos showing the vibrant spectacle that is St. Kitts carnival and it’ll steal your heart in a minute.While you’re in the throes of the month long carnival, you may carve out time to explore the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis outside of your revelry. Known as the gateway to the Caribbean and the Gibraltar of the West Indies for its domination of 18th- century colonial battles, there is so much to experience while there. The island was named after the patron saint of travellers, St. Christopher. A nick name for ‘Christopher’ is ‘Kit’ and thus is how the island of St. Christopher got it’s nick name, ‘St. Kitts,’ with the extra ‘T’ because if you’re from the Caribbean, then you know the importance of style points.
If you don’t want to stray too far from the carnival scene, there are bar crawls and sunset cruises where you can continue to indulge in calypso on offer. If you’d rather explore the island you can check out some of the many many petroglyphs the island is known for. Nevis is also a short boat ride from St. Kitts and is equally worthy of exploration.
The islands also run a voluntourism scheme that makes travel there a lot more affordable for anyone wanting to make the trip. Make sure to check out the St. Kitts and the Nevis (the each have one) tourism websites to find out more.