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Carnaval in the Streets of Gustavia

The streets of Gustavia were filled with throngs of costumed revelers this Tuesday, in celebration of Mardis Gras.  People of all ages gathered along the harbor to dance, sing, and let loose in the tropical sun.  With what seemed like thousands of people, the energy was palpable and it seemed impossible not to get swept away by the excitement of the day.

Many people gathered on balconies to watch the Mardis Gras festivities.

Many people gathered on balconies to watch the Mardis Gras festivities.

All morning there was an electric buzz around the island, as people prepared to celebrate the holiday.  Many businesses were closed during the afternoon hours, so I made sure to get my daily errands done during the morning.  Driving around the island I was thrilled to see cars full of locals and visitors already in full costumes and masks (there was also the occasional scooter driven by an Ancient Egyptian or scary ghoul). It was soon clear to me that this was no ordinary day on St. Barths. The festivities kicked off around 2pm with a parade beginning at the entrance of the harbor.  The main streets in Gustavia were closed, so most people parked just outside of the harbor’s entrance.  As I began walking toward the main street, more and more people began filling up the route, and suddenly I found myself awash in Supermen (and women), Hawaiin Princesses, and the occasional fully cloaked green monster.  In fact, the walk to get to the parade was beginning to evolve into a parade of it’s own.

CARNAVAL GUSTAVIA

A Mardis Gras reveler watches from the Luis Vuitton store front.

The official parade, however, was over the top.  Local organizations and clubs slowly made their way down the parade route and back- and I do mean SLOWLY- this is not your average parade with a quick passing by and a wave.  Most floats were complete with DJ’s and dancers, and every few hundred meters the procession stopped and performances began.

CARNAVAL GUSTAVIA

The Carnaval parade began it’s procession at the entrance of the harbor.

Perhaps the most lively crowd gathered around the Nikki Beach float.  Loud house music and dance club favorites blasted from the team, with a theme based on the movie 300.  Two women clad in sexy ancient garb danced above, while gladiators and the resident DJ revved up the crowd.  Streamers and confetti popped everywhere and the street became a nightclub.

CARNAVAL GUSTAVIA, ST. BARTHS

Confetti and streamers swirl around the raised hands of people dancing in the street.

CARNAVAL GUSTAVIA, ST. BARTHS

The Nikki Beach float was a crowd favorite.

Ending around 7PM, most of the partiers were ready for bed but for those pressing on or perhaps refueling with dinner, there were a few restaurants that remained open for the evening.  Baz Bar offered its usual fantastic assortment of sushi and cocktails and was packed for the rest of the evening.

CARNAVAL GUSTAVIA, ST. BARTHS

The streets and waterfront were packed with people celebrating Carnval.

Whether you were a passive onlooker or full on costumed partier, it is clear everyone had a memorable Mardis Gras in St. Barths.  I can’t wait for next year.

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