Every February, tourists from around the world flock to the island for the Martinique Carnival, a lively and colorful event. Martinique, an island in the French Caribbean, is renowned for its beautiful beaches, dense jungles, and vibrant culture. Martinique Carnival has its roots in the 19th century when French colonizers brought the custom to the island. Over the years, it has become an exuberant, multi-day celebration that highlights the extraordinary combination of African, French, and Taíno culture that is unique to the island.


Martinique Carnival is celebrated for its lively music, dancing, and costumes. The highlight of the event is a street parade full of people in spectacular, feathery ensembles. These groups, called “comparsas,” move through the streets to the rhythm of traditional Martinique music like zouk and compas. The costumes are truly artful, often adorned with intricate beading, feathers, and other decorations.

In addition to its street parade, the Martinique Carnival boasts a range of festivities, such as concerts, dance parties, and food festivals. The “King of Carnival” battle is a memorable part of the celebration, as competitors strive for the top prize with their most impressive costumes and dance moves.

Unique among other Carnivals, Martinique’s incorporates the use of masquerade masks, known as “Kanaval,” throughout the celebration. These masks are intended to obscure the wearer’s identity and heighten the festive atmosphere of the occasion.

The Martinique Carnival is an event designed to honor the island’s history and cultural heritage. Through its music, dance, and costumes, participants are able to pay tribute to their ancestors and to the diversity of the island’s communities. Visitors are invited to join in the festivities and experience first hand the history and culture of Martinique.

Attending the Martinique Carnival is an unforgettable and unparalleled experience, making it one of the most sought-after festivities in the Caribbean. Whether you live in Martinique or are simply visiting, the carnival should be at the top of your list. The vivacious music, flamboyant costumes, and jubilant atmosphere make this event a celebration of life, joy, and togetherness that should not be passed up.


Before you visit Martinique Carnival, you should familiarize yourself with the festival characters that make festival so various and witching . These characters have a long history in the traditions of Martinique. numerous have connections to Africa and some to the colorful European social powers.

These are some of the most common festival characters. Look out for them when you attend Martinique Carnival!

King Vaval( Sa Majesté Vaval)

This character is the Martinique Carnival King, who’s represented by a giant poppet . He’s the master of form and leads the processions. Each time he’s revivified for festival and represents a character, public news story or a social/ political issue. Mon ths of preparation go into his creation and his first appearance is on Shrove Sunday. He’s also burned on Ash Wednesday, symbolizing the end of festival.

La Guiablesse

This character is the widow of King Vaval and makes her first appearance on Ash Wednesday at the King’s burial to mourn his end.

The Touloulou

This character represents the bourgeois women of the social period. They’re dressed head to toe, and wear a mask to replicate the festival costumes seen at Venice Carnival.

Les Nèg Gwo Siwo

These characters emblematize the slaves. They cover themselves head to toe in watercolor and club saccharinity. Their part at festival is to bring order and try to playfully scarify the crowds.

Clay Men

These characters represent the Crockery workers of Trois- llets, one of the oldest and still active companies in Martinique. Men and women cover themselves with complexion and stand in statuesque poses to create living pictures.

When is the Martinique Carnival 2023?

Martinique Carnival is a pre-Lenten carnival that takes place in the 4 days before Lent! Unofficially, carnival season kicks off in January with parties and parades taking place in villages all over the island, every weekend until the main carnival begins.

The 2023 Martinique Carnival will take place on Thursday 16 February 2023 and finish on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent which is the 22 February, 2023.

Here is the Martinique Carnival Schedule:

  1. Samedi Gras – Carnival Saturday
    • Junior and Adult Carnival Queens
  2. Dimanche Gras – Carnival Sunday
    • Jou Ouvé” Big parade in pajamas
    • The Great Carnival of Martinique – coming out of the King
  3. Lundi Gras – Shrove Monday
    • Children’s Parade
    • Burlesque Wedding Parade
    • Parade du Sud
  1. Mardi Gras – Shrove Tuesday
    • Red Devil Parade
  2. Ash Wednesday
    • Funeral of the Majesty Vaval

How To Get To The Martinique Carnival

To attend the Martinique Carnival, you will need to travel to the island of Martinique in the Caribbean. Here’s how you can get there:

Fly: Martinique is served by Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport (FDF), which is located in Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique. There are direct flights to Martinique from several cities in North America, Europe, and other parts of the Caribbean.


Cruise: If you’re already in the Caribbean, you can take a cruise to Martinique. Many cruise lines offer Caribbean itineraries that include a stop in Martinique.


Ferry: There are also ferry services that operate between Martinique and nearby islands, such as Guadeloupe and St. Lucia.

Once you arrive in Martinique, you can get around the island using public transportation, taxis, or rental cars. The Martinique Carnival typically takes place in February or March, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly and book your accommodations early, as they can fill up quickly during this busy time. Incase you need pretty bouquets for your loved ones or the new friends during the carnival, this link has you covered!




If you are yearning for a break from your usual routine and a chance to experience Martinique’s deep-rooted customs and traditions, plan a trip to the island for the Martinique Carnival. You will not regret it!

To sum up, the Martinique Carnival is an incredible event that offers a glimpse into the island’s diverse culture, music, dance, and costumes. Its energetic atmosphere and elaborate costumes make it an unforgettable experience, presenting a fusion of African, French, and Taíno cultural influences. For both those who live on the island and those visiting, the Martinique Carnival is an unmissable event.