Family Time: Carnival in Winter – Fight the Carnival Blues and ‘Get on Bad’ at Home

This time of the year always gets me down – not particularly because it’s winter or that we’re in between holidays. It’s because over the weekend and for the next couple of days there are millions of people getting on bad!

Yes, its carnival season, and while those of us on the East coast try not to get stranded in the snow, a bunch of feathers, sequins, masks and banners are being paraded in over 10 countries around the world…

Fêters in Brazil, Bolivia, India, Italy, Aruba, Panama, the Canary Islands, Haiti, Dominica and of course Trinidad are reveling in the music, costumes, culture and expression of freedom that is carnival. They’re even doing it in New Orleans for Mardi Gras!

After a few years of sulking whenever carnival season came around, and blocking posts and pics from friends in Trinidad, I decided to be part of the fun instead by celebrating ‘Carnival in Winter.’

Sounds crazy I know, but bear with me. ‘If you’re not lucky enough to travel to one of these amazing carnivals, why not bring the carnival to you?’ I thought.

Of course, it’s not the same as being there but think about it this way – there’s no expensive airline tickets, no unbearable heat and no crowds of scantily clad females making you wish you hadn’t eaten that last tamarind ball.

Interested? Well, here are a few examples of ways my family does ‘Carnival in Winter’:

Play nothing but Soca/Calypso, Samba, Zouk, Chutney (any kind of music that’s lively and infectious) the whole weekend.

Click here for a Family Friendly Soca Playlist

Have your own parade or play mas using the kid’s costumes or old clothes you had planned to donate years ago. You can march and dance around the house waving flags or bandanas and have someone judge the winners.

Click here to print and color flags: icon Caribbean Culture for Kids: Flags by Country

Have a carnival story time. You can find books about carnival at your local library or on Amazon (used copies are way cheaper and sometimes still in good condition). Our favorite is *’Jump Up Time: A Trinidad Carnival Story’* by Lyn Joseph.

– Leading up to carnival season take part in the Black History month activities in your neighborhood. You may find a great African dance performance or storytelling session. If you live in a particularly diverse area, search for carnival-related activities to attend.

Do some Carnival arts and crafts. We always get the best ideas from this very website! Check out our fantastic posts on carnival face-painting, carnival headpiecesand the Caribbean coloring sheets and downloads.

icon Carnival Headpiece/Headdress Craft Project (Paper)

icon Carnival Face Design Sheet

Carnival Face Paint Tutorial –

Carnival Headpiece/Headdress Tutorial –

– Another craft idea is to become a stilt walker or moko jumbie by creating tin can stilts for your kids. You’ll need coffee or paint cans and sturdy string. (We’ve haven’t tried this one yet because we could never find cans big enough!) Check out Pinterest for directions.

Here are some photos to get you thinking of costumes!

Photo credit: Tricia Clarke

Photo credit: Tricia Clarke

Photo credit: Tricia Clarke

We’ve been celebrating ‘Carnival in Winter’ for a couple of years and despite having to do it indoors during a chilly month, it’s amazing how using your imagination to come out of your environment for a while can lift your spirits. Not only does it help my kids connect with their cultural heritage, but it has also made me more fun to be around this time of year!