Batabano Carnival kicks off a week today, bringing two separate street parades for the first time in its 22 year history.
Batabano, which started life as a single day event, will feature a stand-alone junior street parade as well as the usual adult parade, a move by organisers to give more emphasis to junior carnival.
‘Batabano has become much bigger this year, offering two separate parades. It’s really exciting to dedicate a whole parade just to the kids,’ Olivia Scott, deputy chairperson said.
With two separate street parades, a heavy emphasis on junior carnival, as well as a host of other carnival events, organisers are confident that this year’s Batabano offers fun for the entire family with something for everyone.
The junior carnival, for school and youth groups, 11 to 17 years, will encompass a family fun day, with a junior song competition, educational workshop, face painting, costumed children’s characters such as Sponge Bob Square Pants, bouncy castles, balloon sculptors and food stalls selling cotton candy and popcorn. Music will be provided by the St. Ignatius Steel Pan Band.
Commenting on why this move came about, Donna Myrie-Stephen, Batabano chairperson, said: ‘Over the years we have come across a lot of resistance from the schools. Carnival is about freedom of movement and some schools did not want the juniors to participate in the adult parade.
‘Since 2002 the juniors have led the adult parade, separated by an hour or so, however it became confusing for spectators and was never an ideal solution. We also wanted to make carnival more family friendly.
‘We are excited to be making this historic change which makes student participation more visible and places greater emphasis on their safety and security. We also hope this will give the students more fulfilment and pride in wearing their costumes in their very own parade where they are the biggest stars.’
Organisers have this year added an educational aspect to junior carnival, with renowned mask and costume designer Richard Bartholomew from Trinidad who will conduct a workshop on the art of mask making. Mr. Bartholomew will also be designing and making all the costumes for this year’s junior carnival.
A junior song competition has also been added to the line-up.
”We hope the junior song competition will add a new dimension to junior carnival,’ Mrs. Myrie-Stephen said.
‘There is a lot of young talent in Cayman and this will be an excellent opportunity for them to gain some exposure and give the young people a chance to participate and entertain the carnival audience.’
Batabano has continued to go from strength-to-strength, growing over the years to encompass a full spectrum of events and establishing itself as the Cayman Islands national carnival. The mammoth task of organising Batabano is undertaken by a dedicated team of 10 volunteers with this year’s carnival promising to be as big, if not bigger than its predecessors.
With the theme of All Nations, One Celebration, the line-up is impressive, including a masquerade fete featuring a Caribbean buffet and silent auction, Friday night fete, featuring acclaimed soca band Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, as well as the ever popular adult street parade.
Batabano was launched by the Rotary Club in 1984 and has grown to become one of the highlights of Cayman’s entertainment calendar.
The heart and soul of Batabano is the Mas Bands who get the opportunity to express creativity, imagination and talent.
The parades feature elaborate costumes and while many have been traditionally inspired by Cayman’s marine environment, designers have begun to utilize their costumes to comment on social issues, both locally and worldwide.
‘Carnival is an integral part of the Caribbean and promotes unity and harmony. It is a positive experience and we want it to be an enjoyable, fun and safe time for everyone,’ Mrs. Scott said.
Over the years hundreds of locals and overseas visitors have flocked to the streets to join in Batabano and revel in the party atmosphere. This year promises to be no exception.
‘We have had great feedback so far, especially on the planned junior carnival, We are anticipating a great turnout.’ Mrs Myrie-Stephen said.
Friday, 5 May
Fever Concert, featuring Sayann Lyons, past carnival queen road-march winner, Trinidad. Mango Tree, from 9pm. Tickets cost $15 pre-paid, more at the gate. Tickets available from Le Classique, Elizabethan Square and West Shore locations.
Saturday, 6 May
Junior Carnival featuring the junior street parade starting at The Glass House at 3.30pm, through town and ending back at The Glass House lawn. Prizes will be awarded at 6pm on the Glass House lawns.
Song competition, The Glass House, 7pm. Deadline for entries is Tuesday, 2 May. To sign up call Nicole Barnett on 327-4165 or Rebecca Jefferson on 324-0142. First prize is studio time fro the vocalist, a cell phone and trophy.
Thursday, 11 May
Masquerade Fete, Pedro Castle, featuring Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. Champagne reception starts at 6.30pm, followed by a silent auction and a Caribbean buffet. Tickets cost $100, or $1,000 for a table for 10. Tickets are available from Le Classique, Elizabethan Square and West Shore locations, or by calling Lana Cayasso on 916-4331.
Friday, 12 May
Friday Night Fete, Safehaven, featuring Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, from 9pm. Tickets cost $20 pre-paid, $25 at the gate. Tickets are available from Funky Tangs, Reflections, Le Classique, and Cable and Wireless stores. Gates open at 9pm.
Saturday, 13 May
Adult Street Parade, leaving 3.30pm from Lawrence Boulevard and ending in George Town.