Sun, Drums And Glitter Fun At Guadeloupe's Carnival

Open Jaw

Five distinct islands, five different atmospheres, one colourful soul. 

Every year, the French Caribbean archipelago of Guadeloupe joins together to celebrate Carnival over the course of three months: January , February and March.

This year, the festivities take place from 1JAN to 6MAR.

From Pointe-à-Pitre to Basse-Terre to Grand-Bourg de Marie-Galante, the entire archipelago dances the cha-cha to the wild rhythms of drums, hoots and hollers. It's as much a visual experience as it is auditory, with shimmering costumes and exuberant masks parading down the streets.

Travellers like to arrive to Guadeloupe a few days before the start of the Carnival for the chance to partake in the preparation of the parade, which in many ways can be a more immersive experience than Carnival itself. The costume making, rehearsal, choreography… Watching it all come together is an exceptional opportunity to see Carnival at its roots.

Originally imported by European settlers in the 17th century, the Carnival tradition has gradually permeated Caribbean culture and today is one of the most important celebrations in the region. 

Dancers and musicians share the parade in a festive face-to-face, illustrating the diversity of the archipelago’s population. 

The Carnival experience is one to be enjoyed by the entire family. Both the young and young-at-heart prepare for this celebration for months, painstakingly designing costumes down to the last speck of glitter.

Carnival groups are divided into several categories according to their type of music.

Among the many groups, there is one that stands out: the "Gwoup a pò," which has become a key Carnival figure. Far from glitter and rhinestones, the “Gwoup a pò” make their costumes and instruments from organic or recycled materials.

Other groups like the “snare drums category” use more modern instruments, such as trumpets, saxophones, snare drums and triangle, enlivening the parade with joyful and rhythmic music.

The drums are the vital instruments of the Carnival parades in Guadeloupe. Whether they're made of goatskin or simple plastic barrels, the percussions aim to drive away evil spirits.

For travellers looking to live a truly Guadeloupian moment, there's no more authentic way than the Carnival.

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