Cayman Carnival Batabano History
Launched in 1983 by the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, Cayman Carnival Batabano is held annually during the first week of May – a vibrant highlight in the island’s entertainment calendar.
The festival’s original name, Batabano, is a salute to Cayman’s turtling heritage. The word batabano refers to the tracks left in the sand by sea turtles as they crawl onto the beach to nest. Finding these tracks was – and still is – a reason to celebrate!
Carnival is a premier cultural celebration in the Caribbean – a kaleidoscope of music, dance and pageantry with roots mirroring the region’s diverse history of African and religious influences. Colourful costumes reflect the vibrant landscapes, heritage and culture, with the music the very rhythm of island life. Carnival in the Cayman Islands has a distinct flavour as the islands are home to a melting pot of over 100 nationalities – one country celebrating many cultures!
During carnival, districts and corporate groups join together to compete and showcase creative costumes, choreography and floats. The energy of Cayman Carnival Batabano is electrifying, with thousands of locals and visitors flocking to the streets to enjoy the spirited parade, which is all about expression.
The fete was renamed Cayman Carnival Batabano to bring it more in line with traditional Caribbean carnivals, and today it is organized by a volunteer committee chaired by Donna Myrie-Stephen. The carnival has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception, including the addition of a carnival for youth.
With the costumes, choreography and festivities becoming more elaborate each year, Cayman Carnival Batabano is a much-anticipated event. It is a time to celebrate local surroundings, to showcase creativity, to voice social issues and, of course, to party and unite – and there’s nothing like a great party to bring people together!
About Junior Carnival
Cayman Carnival Junior Batabano is a family-friendly festival for the islands’ youth. Introduced in 2002, this colorful cultural showcase marks its 10th anniversary this year! Junior Carnival has grown from a small program that preceded the adult parade to its very own one-day event.
Held at Camana Bay, school children dance and jump along Market Street in a lively parade of color, music and creativity before wowing the judges on The Crescent. Afterwards, the fun continues with face painting, mask decorating and fundraising food stalls presented by school PTAs.
The goal of Junior Carnival Batabano is to create a safe, fun and creative environment for youth to play mas (masquerade) and to teach the art of costume making for generations to come.