First, there was the J’Ouvert Parade and Breakfast Fete; then Junior Batabano last Saturday. Now, after many months of preparation and costume launches, the Outta De Blue Festival and the Adult Parade are finally here.
Islanders should be ready for a weekend of celebration and dancing as Cayman Carnival Batabano kicks into high gear.
Launched in 1983 by the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman and now in its 35th year, Batabano – the island’s national carnival – is held annually during the first week of May. A vibrant highlight in the island’s entertainment calendar, organized by a volunteer committee and chaired for past 18 years by well-known local impresario Donna Myrie-Stephen, the carnival has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception.
The name “Batabano” is a salute to Cayman’s turtling heritage. The word refers to the tracks left in the sand by sea turtles as they crawl onto the beach to nest.
Carnival itself is a joyous, cultural celebration throughout the Caribbean – a kaleidoscope of music, dance and pageantry, rooted in the region’s diverse historical influences. Colorful costumes reflect the vibrant landscapes and heritage of the islands, with the music echoing the very rhythm of island life. Carnival in the Cayman Islands has a distinct flavor as Cayman is home to a melting pot of more than 100 nationalities – one country celebrating many cultures.
Outta De Blue
Friday, Harbour Drive
Outta De Blue – Cayman’s Soca Fete – starts at 9 p.m. in the heart of George Town on Harbour Drive. The 2017 and 2018 Soca Monarch winner, Voice, will headline the evening event, alongside Shal Marshal and other surprise acts. Local artists and DJs will also take to the stage on Harbour Drive, so make sure you wear your dancing shoes (or boots).
This is the second Outta De Blue event for Batabano, and is back by popular demand. With the streets blocked off from traffic for the night, George Town becomes a pedestrian area so the crowd will have lots of space to party.
Aaron ‘Voice’ St. Louis
As stated on Genius.com: “Soca music is a Caribbean tradition that soundtracks one of the biggest street parties in the world, Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival. Among other events, the Carnival hosts an annual International Soca Monarch contest pitting the top Soca songs from across the Caribbean against each other. Over the past few years, the competition has helped make a new star: Aaron ‘Voice’ St. Louis, one of the youngest leaders of modern Soca music.
“The 24-year-old artist burst on the scene with his 2015 party anthem “Cheers to Life,” and became the youngest entertainer to ever win the International Soca Monarch title the following year. He also found success with late-2016 songs like “Outside,” “We Doh Play” (featuring Kerwin Dubois), and “Get Away.”
Voice won the Soca Monarch competition for the third time earlier this year. His YouTube videos have garnered more than three million views.
Tickets for Outta De Blue are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate for general admission and $50 in advance, $60 at the gate for VIP.
Saturday, Seven Mile Public Beach
The penultimate and arguably most anticipated event of the Cayman Carnival Batabano, the Adult Batabano Costume Parade, takes to the streets on Saturday for an afternoon of dance and music. Costumed revelers create an amazing spectacle for young and old to enjoy as they move down West Bay Road. Spectators can look forward to seeing nine Batabano mas bands displaying their themes in a riot of color, feathers and glitter behind pulsating trucks piled high with speakers.
The parade will begin at 1 p.m. from Seven Mile Public Beach and slowly follows the route to George Town. People are encouraged to line the streets to support their favorites, and they may even get a freebie gift or two sent in their direction for their efforts. Look out for the Party Animals and The Pirates, who are among some of the mas bands that will be featuring in this year’s Cayman Carnival Batabano.
Batabano Bazaar and Food Festival
Saturday, Cardinall Avenue
Dancing in a parade can work up an appetite, hence the presence of the Batabano Bazaar and Food Festival once the mas bands reach George Town. There will be enough local food for everyone, served up by the best cooks in the land. With the Last Lap scheduled for later that evening, best to get a bellyful ahead of time to keep your energy up!
Batabano Last Lap
Saturday, Harbour Drive
To complete the Cayman Carnival Batabano celebrations of 2018, revelers can head to the Last Lap downtown. Beginning at approximately 6 p.m. with the conclusion of the street parade, participants and spectators will be treated to a variety of local and international DJs and artists spread across four different stages. The curtains will fall at midnight until Batabano 2019.