38th Baltimore Carnival Celebrates Caribbean Heritage


As many as 40,000 people are expected to attend the Baltimore Carnival, an annual two-day event in and surrounding Baltimore’s Clifton Park that celebrates Caribbean heritage with native foods, live music and family-friendly entertainment.

“This is our 38th year and we are always so excited, and people come from everywhere to be here and celebrate with us,” said Elaine Simon, the festival’s coordinator and president. “It’s a cultural activity— that is a legacy, which is Caribbean and there are over 26 Caribbean islands and each representative from those islands participate.”

Supported by the mayor of Baltimore City and the Office of Promotions and Arts, the carnival is hosted by the Caribbean American Carnival Association of Baltimore in conjunction with the DC Caribbean Carnival Committee.

Participants in costume from Carnival 2018

Courtesy Photo

Participants in costume from Carnival 2018

The 2019 festivities are set to begin with a Caribbean-style parade on Saturday, July 13, 2019 at 1 p.m. in the Waverly neighborhood on 33rd Street, wind its way along The Alameda, then continues on to Clifton Park via St. Lo Drive. The always, colorful parade is expected to last about four hours with the last band crossing the Hartford and St. Lo Drive intersection at approximately 5 p.m.

The parade kicks off a day of entertainment and festivities that carry through Sunday and showcases live music and a sampling of authentic Caribbean food.

“Oxtails, rice, jerk chicken. You can just smell the good aroma,” Simon said.

In all, the route covers more than one mile and features a stream of masquerade bands accompanied by flat-bed trucks equipped with sound-systems that pump out the latest in Caribbean music, Soca, Calypso and Reggae.

Each masquerade band boasts its own coordinated group of dancing revelers known as masqueraders dressed in eye-catching, elaborate costumes depicting a specific theme, Simon said.

Local steel pan bands, dancing stilt walkers, t-shirt bands, and the popular mud mas’— revelers who smear themselves with mud— and paint ‘n powder mas’ bands round-out the street party celebration.

The parade is also a competition and the mas bands are judged on their creativity, costume design and the energy and participation of their masqueraders.

Performers over the two days include Nadia Batson; Super Blue; Sophia Brown, the Reggae Diva; Stykers Posse Reggae Band; T&T Steelband of Baltimore; Carl Malcolm; The Image Band; Shurwayne Winchester; Pan Masters Steel Band and Mister David; and Empress J and the IFD Crew.

“One of the things that I’m looking forward to is a great carnival and parade and that everyone be safe,” Simon said. “I’m hoping for a wonderful weekend and I believe it will be.”

The admission fee for the festival is $15 on Saturday and $20 on Sunday. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit https://baltimorecarnival.com/festival/.