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Carnival in French Guiana

If the French Guiana carnival stands out for its explosion of colors and sophistication in the disguises as well as for the resolutely festive atmosphere brought by the dances and the songs unceasingly punctuated by the percussions and the brass instruments, it is also known to be the longest in the world! The program of the carnival of Guyana extends indeed from the beginning of January to the middle of March. This will give you time to enjoy the party and discover in depth the Guyanese traditions and spirit!

Small history of French Guiana's carnival

The history of Guyana's carnival begins with the arrival of Europeans in the territory. It is indeed a Christian festival imported from the old continent and originally, the festival was in fact reserved for European immigrants. However, the concept of carnival seduced the slaves and the clandestine parties soon multiplied. Indeed, it was an opportunity for them to rediscover some of their own traditions. The principle of disguise also allows them not to be recognized. The French Guiana carnival is thus quickly mixed, mixing various rites and symbols coming from different cultures.

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The carnival of French Guiana was born from the colonization. Today, however, it has become one of the most important festivals in the territory. You only have to see its duration to be convinced! Indeed, the program of the carnival of French Guyana begins during the weekend of the Epiphany, that is to say at the beginning of January, to end on Ash Wednesday, that is to say at the end of February, even at the beginning of March. The exact days vary from year to year. For the 2023 French Guiana Carnival, for example, the Epiphany weekend is on Saturday, January 7 and Ash Wednesday on February 22. You have almost 2 months to join the party, which will undoubtedly be one of your most unforgettable visits and outings during your stay in Guyana!

What is the program of the French Guiana carnival ?

The history of Guyana's carnival has anchored many rituals and unavoidable characters. Thus, you can attend many parades during the carnival period. There is indeed one organized every Sunday, mainly in 3 cities:

  • Cayenne ;

  • Kourou ;

  • Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni.

You can easily combine the parade with a visit to the space center of Kourou, for example, or attend it after a discovery of the Salvation Islands, located off Kourou. However, do not underestimate the travel time, especially if you travel by rental car : the spectators are counted by thousands ! Renting a car in February/March can also be tricky because of the high demand during this period. Marching bands, decorated floats and costumed characters enliven these parades, which are decorated with a different theme each year.

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On Friday and Saturday nights, touloulous are honored during masked balls, also called "dancings" or "universities". The touloulous are elegantly dressed women whose skin is no longer visible. Evoking the bourgeois women of the 18th and 19th centuries, they invite men to dance and it is impossible to decline. Since the 90s, the tololos (male equivalent of touloulous) also have a voice. The program of the carnival of French Guyana is thus rich in festivities and high in colors. It is undoubtedly a must if you come to book a car rental in February or March in French Guyana !

Small lexicon of Guyanese carnival

The Guianese carnival thus counts events nts, but also great traditional characters. Thanks to this small lexicon, learn to identify them to better immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the French Guiana Carnival 2023 !

  • King Vaval : the most important character, the one who is enthroned at the beginning of the festivities and who dies in the flames at the end;

  • The nèg'marrons : embodying the fugitive slaves, they smear themselves with oil and soot and try to wipe themselves against the passers-by;

  • The sweepers : symbolizing the purification of the carnival but also the good domestic manners, they are generally dressed with a blue dress and a broom coconut;

  • The diabrouj : this red and black devil circulates in the streets during Mardi Gras;

  • The jetfarin : easy to recognize thanks to his entirely white costume composed of a shirt, pants, a pointed hat and a mask. Representing the baker, he willingly enfarine children!

  • The bobi : this character would be inspired by the bear trainers of the time. Indeed, his brown costume made of potato sacks and his leash evoke a bear.

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The program of the carnival of French Guiana still reserves you many other surprises and characters to discover: Monday of the burlesque marriages where husbands and wives exchange their roles, Tuesday of the red devils... There is only one way to meet these mythical characters: come to French Guiana between January and March!

Are you ready to participate in the carnival of Guyana? Discover our articles on the typical dishes of the country! Take strength and live your carnival to the fullest!

Some recipes to discover :

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