Dominica Set to Kick Off Carnival 2012

Carnival, the most festive season on the Caribbean island of Dominica, begins in early January as Calypso competitions get underway.

From January and into February, Dominicans and visitors alike are invited to join in Carnival activities taking place across the Nature Island. The pre-Lenten festival, also known as "The Real Mas," includes parades, Calypso Monarch, Junior Monarch (Calypso competition for youngsters), Queen Show, Princess Show, Teenage Pageant, carnivals and much more.

The opening parade on Jan. 29 marks the official start of the Carnival celebrations and the opening of Carnival City. The excitement begins during the weeks prior; rising to a fevered pitch before the finale on Feb. 20 - 21. While key Carnival events take place in the capital of Roseau, smaller carnivals are planned in villages such as Portsmouth, Marigot and Grandbay. Organizers are also planning a few surprise additions to this year's festival.

"Carnival activities are taking place across the Nature Island throughout January and leading up to the final days on Feb. 20 and 21," said Colin Piper, director of tourism for Dominica, in a written release. "Anyone looking for a winter getaway should plan to come to Dominica to participate in some of our exciting carnival activities in addition to diving, hiking, whale watching or any of our other unique island activities.”

Carnival highlights for 2012 include:

Jan. 6 - February 18 (select dates): Calypso - Dozens of carnival musicians, or Calypsonians, begin elimination rounds as they compete for the "Calypso Monarch" title. Elimination rounds take place at the quarter-final and semifinal stages, leading up to the grand finale on Saturday, Feb. 18.

Jan. 29: Opening Parade - The lively parade features Carnival queen and princess contestants, popular bands or Calypsonians, dancers in colorful costumes, stilt walkers (also called Moco Jumbies by locals) and cheerleaders who happily entertain enthusiastic spectators.

February 5 and 17: Princess Show/National Queen Show - These popular events showcase the talents and beauty of Dominica's women and culminate with the crowning of Miss Dominica on Feb 17.

February 20 - 21: Jump-up - Features two days of costume bands and street dancing known as "jump-up." Jump up serves as the fun and frenzied finale to the annual Carnival celebration.

Visitors who want to enjoy the festivities during the weekend prior to the culmination on Feb. 20 - 21 should plan to arrive no later than Friday, February 17.


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