The Caribbean Carnival experience comes to Charlotte

Falesha Brodie, theCULTURE Editor

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The Caribbean Carnival is Charlotte’s first week-long celebration of Caribbean culture.

The growing city will host a series of events from June 22-29, highlighting the culture’s rich history.

Natalie Joseph — the Charlotte Caribbean Carnival Association President — remembers participating in the culture as a child. Since June is National Caribbean Heritage month, she decided to bring the jubilation to Charlotte.

“It’s nothing you can imagine,” Joseph said. “We’re going to take you on a journey. From the drums and steel pans to the dances, the food, the colors…we’re bringing the Caribbean to Charlotte.”

The Caribbean festivities will also feature local artists. Attendees will also enjoy a street parade featuring the finest of Carnival inspired costume design, entertainment and arts.

“I know that Raleigh and Durham have a good carnival, but Charlotte has a bigger platform. So, maybe it will be good,” said Déja Stewart, former president of the Caribbean Student Association at N.C. A&T.

The affair kicks off with a Children’s Caribbean Carnival. This event will include an elementary and middle school child talent show. All talents are welcome and winners will receive prizes.

This Carnival also accepts kids ages 4-17 to represent the different Caribbean Islands. Children are encouraged to dress in the national colors of their island land and carry the national flags.

“I have never been to a Caribbean Carnival before, but I would love to,” said Sydney Daniels, a North Carolina native. “The Caribbean has such a rich culture, full of independence and history.”

Another special highlight of the week is the crowning of Charlotte’s first Charlotte Caribbean Carnival Queen.

Miss Puerto Rico, Miss Jamaica, Miss Bahamas and others will compete for the crown to become Charlotte Caribbean Queen 2019.

The pageant will be filled with giveaways and surprises.

One of the carnival’s most popular events will be the Afro-Caribbean Village.

This event is unique because it will be held in the heart of Charlotte’s cultural community, the Charlotte Open Air Market.

Beginning with a Mas Band, visitors will have the opportunity to register as individual masqueraders and dance through the streets — all while wearing their Caribbean-themed costumes.

After the band, the party continues. Hosted by Rissie and Stella, the Caribbean Village will include music from top DJs, food trucks, cultural booths, and live music from local and national artists.

One of those artists being Olatunji or, “Soca Superstar.”

Olatunji is a soca artist from Trinidad and Tobago. His career ignited in 2002 when he entered the Junior Calypso competition.

He placed second in both the NYAC Emancipation Competition and the Sunshine Snacks Junior Calypso Competition.

In 2003, his success continued as he placed in each competition he entered.

Years later, Olatunji has many titles including “Groovy Monarch” or his hit, “Ola,” in 2015.

After a long week of jubilee, the carnival will come to an end with the Soca Breakfast Fete. This is an all-inclusive island style breakfast with mimosas, a special performance by Baby L and other guest artists.

For more information visit https://www.charlottecaribbeancarnival.com/