Gypsy: Mother of all Carnivals, a grand festival in 2023

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A dame Lorraine enterains the audience at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain for the launch of Carnival 2023 on Saturday. – Angelo Marcelle

National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters said not having Carnival for two years took a toll on the people of TT but they “stayed the course” and now appreciate it more.

Speaking at the launch of Carnival 2023 at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Saturday evening, he said it would be the mother of all carnivals because it would be a “grand festival” of events and activities, a world-class showcase of creativity and culture, and a revelry of identity and expression.

“Not having a traditional Carnival for the past two years opened our eyes to new opportunities to grow our festival and indeed, to grow the industry that is Carnival. It has fuelled our ambition to rebirth and re-brand Carnival, stronger, more resilient, and more adaptive.”

Mud mas revellers dance outside the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, at the launch of Carnival 2023 on Saturday. – ANGELO MARCELLE

He said the NCC intended to work more closely with the regional Carnival committees, and called on anyone who wanted to support the organisation for Carnival 2023 to partner with it to help it achieve more.

He added that it was TT’s greatest export and a huge foreign exchange earner.

“Always remember our Carnival is a product of the people, it is for the people, it is by the people. It is one of our greatest gifts to the world and it is our responsibility to work hard, to protect, preserve and promote it for the future.”

Randall Mitchell, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, agreed that Carnival was a big money earner for the country. Using the example of the recently ended Tobago Carnival, he said 20,000 people from Trinidad visited the island, and there were two flights from New York with 277 people. He said if each person spent about $3,000, $60 million was spent in Tobago for the Carnival.

“Carnival is more than just our cultural expression. It is a way for us to maximise the economy.”

He said both hotels and mas bands were almost fully booked for TT Carnival 2023. He said there would be new initiatives such as park and ride, e-tickets, the return of the North Stand, and free WiFi in the Grand Stand. Also, NCC was already in talks with security forces so he expected it to be one of the most secure Carnivals.

He said the spirit of Carnival could never be cancelled, therefore, over the past two years, Carnival practitioners found ways to connect to it with virtual shows and, in 2022, A Taste of Carnival.

“It paved the way for the reopening of the events sector and it paved the way for what we are doing here today – launching Carnival 2023, the mother of all Carnivals.”

A Fancy Indian and the Whip Master team up at Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain for the launch of Carnival 2023 on Saturday. – Angelo Marcelle

He added that the NCC would release more details of new projects and developments in the next few weeks.

The launch event, which began two hours late, was also a Carnival show with performances by up-and-coming singers like Zaden Darius who sang Too Young to Soca, and well-known artists such as Terri Lyons, Aaron Duncan, Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osouna, and Joshua “D Pan Man” Regrello.

There were also performances by Republic Bank Exodus Steel Orchestra, Bunji Garlin and Asylum Vikings, Shal Marshall, and numerous traditional mas characters.