Jump up for J’Ouvert! Night parade of mud, paint and merriment returns

A group of J’Ouvert partygoers, still fresh after the parade, with lots of energy to spare.

It is hard to believe it has been a year since Batabano, yet here is the proof. J’Ouvert, the bonkers early parade and breakfast fete will be held on Saturday, starting at 4 a.m.

Yes, just like last time, the location will not be revealed until midnight on Friday, at which point you can try to get a few hours’ kip, or stay up until the fun begins.

One only has to look at the pictures from last year to see that J’Ouvert is a wildly popular event. Hundreds of revellers, eager to parade in the dark, make their way to the starting point to dance, drink and make merry until the sun comes up.

This is not an elegant affair – it is all about the mud, the paint and the music. Please leave your ballgown at home.

There will be DJs pumping music through the speakers and the party continues until 8 a.m. The tickets are all-inclusive, offering each participant cocktails on the road, a Caribbean breakfast and a goodie bag with a T-shirt.

J’Ouvert is full of symbols, culture and heritage. It is steeped in tradition and playing mud mas involves participants known as Jab Jabs covering themselves and others in paint, mud, white powder or anything else, for that matter. It is J’Ouvert custom that everybody gets involved and it is common to see a newcomer being hugged by a muddy revelers.

There can never be too much paint involved.

The roots of J’Ouvert in Trinidad go back 200 years, with the arrival of French plantation owners. The French never colonized Trinidad, however, elements of their culture remained. J’Ouvert evolved from the Canboulay festivals in the 1800s, which were nighttime celebrations where the landowners dressed up and imitated the garden slaves. Following emancipation, the newly freed slaves took over Canboulay, now imitating their former masters imitating them.

Canboulay revellers, who carried lighted cane torches, were seen as a potential risk by the authorities, and the tension mounted leading to the Canboulay riots. It was eventually banned, and then was reestablished as J’Ouvert.

How to get tickets

Those who want to attend J’Ouvert have to buy their tickets in advance, as they will not be available at the gate. They are $65 on www.eventpro.ky.

For more information about Batabano and upcoming events, visit www.caymancarnival.com.

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