Guyana aims to become the next must-visit destination for international revelers with its newly launched Carnival. The theme in this first year was ‘In The Beginning’ and the featured band was called Genesis. Six designers were engaged to create costumes for the band’s sections. Each one had as its theme a different icon of Guyana: Kaieteur, Roraima, Amazon, El Dorado, Stabroek, Dahlia and Amazon. The effect was SPECTACULAR!
The idea to create a carnival took form following the celebration of Guyana’s 50 years of independence in May 2016, when 25,000 international visitors – double the average monthly number – descended on the Land of Many Waters for the golden jubilee. Hotels across the country were fully booked, as were airlines servicing Georgetown’s Cheddi Jagan Airport, despite adding extra flights to accommodate all the travelers.
The concerts, pageantry, and parades created such a fabulous carnival atmosphere that Guyana’s citizens decided they ought to repeat that experience every year and share it with the world.
That thinking led Boilers and Ferguson to create the Guyana Carnival, which debuted this year, spanning 10 days in May 2018. Along with the main carnival parade on Independence Day, revelers enjoyed concerts, boat rides, breakfast parties and other festivities including a pre-dawn J’Ouvert street party – the essential kick-off for any Caribbean festival.
For Guyana, which has a population of just 773,000 and a relatively young tourism sector that is mostly driven by small-scale eco-resorts, this was a significant step. The economy received a stimulative boost as Guyanese and non-Guyanese spent tons of money on food, drink, and activities, not to mention all those gorgeous feathers, beads and bikinis adorning the masqueraders.
Carnival celebrations have become a major economic engine for countries in the Caribbean.
Zing Magazine recently noted that: “For today’s carnival enthusiasts, especially those who come from abroad, one lure is the all-inclusive experiences provided by popular masquerade bands, and the themed fetes that take place around the main event. Band launches, where one can preview and put a down payment on costume designs, have become lavish, hotly anticipated events in their own right, extending the season of some carnivals practically year round”.
Costumes don’t come cheap either; costs can run into hundreds of dollars, if not more. The costumes created for the Guyana band’s sections ranged from US$350 for men’s outfitting to US$800 for an elaborate women’s design with tall vertical wings.
Because some people chase the thrills of the carnival year-long, an eco-system has emerged catering to these enthusiasts who often hop from island to island so as not to miss what has become a major regional attraction. Marissa Charles who owns GlobalCarnivalist, a website dedicated to the carnival-chaser lifestyle, can certainly attest to that. “It has almost replaced vacationing on its own for a lot of people. Instead of going to Spain to relax, you are going to replace that experience with another carnival. FOMO [fear of missing out] is a big thing. With the rise of social media, there is coverage from every angle, and people don’t want to miss out.”
Some carnivals like the ones hosted by Trinidad and Jamaica have gotten so big and famous that they attract people from every continent. It is this clientele that Guyana Carnival’s organizers aim to attract with their annual festivities.
if you want to indulge in something new & exciting next year, plan a trip to Guyana in May 2019.
Guyana Carnival is a privately-owned festival in Georgetown Guyana, during May 18th – 27th. It’s an amalgamation of influential entertainment bodies, the Government of Guyana and other key stakeholders to create a new exciting product to boost tourism, entertainment, and nightlife in our emerging city. Here’s the dedicated website for GUYANA FESTIVAL.
If you want more immersive information on all the carnivals in the region including costumes, lifestyle reviews and upcoming events, definitely check out the GLOBAL CARNIVALIST.