Cayman Carnival Batabano is a riot of colour, dance, music and friends old and new.
Longstanding festival queen-type person Donna Myrie of the organising committee tells us all about what to expect.
“Batabano is a celebration of life. The costumes will definitely be the highlight and the feature of the parade. The masquerade – mas – bands and the parade are spectacular.
“One band alone will have close to 500 masqueraders dancing with them so that really is momentous. For the first time we have got some new bands on the road and of course LIME will be leading the parade as presenting sponsor. They have got loads of prizes for the road as well,” says Donna.
Participants in the parade certainly get a workout as well as an opportunity to strut their stuff, show off their moves and make new mates, too.
Wendyann George, also of the committee tells us that the bash really is something special.
“It’s a lot of colour, a lot of music, a lot of fun. We have always prided ourselves on the fact that we have all these different nationalities. It really is a day of national unity.
“People can forget about the stress of daily life and just dress up in a costume, look beautiful and have fun,” she says.
The big day is Saturday, 4 May of course, but businesses have been encouraged to purchase Batabano T-shirts to be worn by their employees on Friday, 3 May, dubbed Dress Down Day by Batabano. There’s really no better way to get into the spirit of the occasion in advance.
Later that evening, at Tiki Beach, there is a scaled down version of Vintage Kaiso from 8pm.
Appearing will be the Mighty Gabby and Red Plastic Bag alongside other guest artists and ‘Cayman’s most talented DJ’, DJ Ralph.
A limited amount of $40.00 tickets are on sale at Le Classique.
A planned Batabano concert will take place at Camana Bay during the summer.
“We are grateful to our venue sponsor Camana Bay for their continued support and flexibility in working with us,” says Donna.
Adult costume street party
This year the parade is the longest ever, starting way up at Governor’s Beach, traversing the whole of the rest of West Bay Road and ending in Fort Street. It’s very apt that it’s the 30th anniversary because it’s set to be one of the biggest bashes ever even by Batabano’s high standards. Stilt walkers, acrobats and limbo dancers are all promised along with the colourful parade of masqueraders, floats and costumed people. The parade starts at 2pm, says Donna.
“We want to encourage spectators to come up West Bay Road and watch the parade at the start and because there are two routes to get back to town then people can enjoy the parade at more than one location.”
Art in the Heart
Local artists and craft vendors will showcase and sell their arts and crafts in a village style setting in Celebration Park throughout the day. This event takes place from 12 noon until 6pm
Enjoy a colourful array of cuisine with over 20 local vendors, alongside some of Cayman’s premier restaurants, dishing up traditional island fare. Albert Panton Street and Cardinall Avenue, George Town, 12 noon.
Bringing people together
Batabano is notable for reflecting Cayman’s rich heritage of different cultures coming together to live and work on island. In the parade it’s common to find many different nationalities, ages, jobs and backgrounds dancing together. People take the opportunity to cast off their day-to-day society-created roles and to smash down through the barriers that all too often divide us all.
“We all celebrate everything positive and happy together; what better way to do that than embracing carnival and Batabano?” Donna asks.
“Carnival is universal, the word itself is magnetic and many other countries have capitalised on it from a tourism point of view. Cayman can do the same; when many countries are in such a state of woe we have to seize this moment to celebrate life, celebrate each other and enjoy these moments free from any kind of derogatory pressure.
“Seize the moment and celebrate life; that is what Batabano is.”
Sounds good to us. We can’t wait to see the costumes and the happy faces as they touch de road again for another year of magic.
A little 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.