If you're looking for activities in Saint Martin following the splendid Christmas and New Years holidays, but are afraid January is a dead zone - never fear! Mardi Gras is here!
From January until April the village of Grand Case (our beautiful host community) hosts its own Mardis Gras, a festival that blends food, music local crafts and plenty of dancing.
The main street of Grand Case is closed off to cars, in order to accommodate thousands of visitors who have come to enjoy the nightlife and celebrate living life on a beautiful Caribbean.
Pre-carnival events start in January, the first Sunday after the Epiphany (which would be January 6th this year, in 2012), and continues until Ash Wednesday in February.
There are parades every Sunday in Grand Case, featuring dancing and costumes by local groups in different communities of Saint Martin (from both the French and Dutch sides)
What is Mardi Gras, you ask?
"Mardi Gras" and "Carnival season" refer to carnival celebrations beginning in the Caribbean and some parts of the southern United States in early January after Epiphany and winding up on the day before Ash Wednesday.
Mardi gras means "Fat Tuesday" in French, and gets its name from practice of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday. The pre-fast feasting has, throughout the ages, been accompanied with dancing and colorful costumes and competitions. Popular practices include wearing masks and costumes, playing pranks, dancing, sports competitions, and parades - a typical Caribbean Mardi Gras.
In Grand Case, must-see Mardi Gras events include an arts and crafts market, live music, and, of course, dancers wearing incredible costumes. There are also 20 boutiques to check out, plus art galleries, and 40 different restaurants overlooking the beautiful Caribbean.
Attending Mardi Gras is free, and programs and information are available at the Tourism Office of Saint-Martin, or at our front desk!
Charles Edwards frequently blogs about activities in Saint Martin