St. Croix’s month-long Christmas Carnival festivities started Saturday, Nov. 28 with a "mini-carnival" at the Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged featuring a parade, food, fashion, soca, steel-pan, marching bands, Santa Claus and more. And festivities are barely begun, with pageantry, calypso, soca, food, parades, costumes and races filling the next month with fun and Christmas cheer.
Things really get heated the weekend of Dec. 11.
To get a first look at the best, biggest and most elaborate parade costumes, come out Friday, Dec. 11 to the D.C. Canegata Multi-Purpose Center for the Party Monarch elimination competition. Tickets are $20 in advance and are available at JV Diner, One Love Service Station and Kathleen’s Restaurant. Prices will be higher at the door the night of the show. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts around 10.
But get your rest that night — or stay up all night, whichever works, because the next morning, Saturday, Dec. 12, there is the first of two j’ouverts: J’ouvert East, scheduled for 5 a.m. — or whenever the V.I. Police say to go. Many St. Croix soca bands will jam and fans will wine, gyrate and tramp their way from Bassin Triangle to Altona Lagoon.
While not a part of the official Carnival, the hugely popular St. Croix Boat Parade, with its gayly lit vessels and wildly enthusiastic crowds, is not to be missed Saturday, Dec. 12. Festivities will begin at noon in Christiansted on the boardwalk and the parade will start around 6 p.m. and end with a spectacular fireworks display. That event is put on by Christiansted retailers.
Then, as the parade ends, around the corner at D.C. Canegata Park, the Carnival is holding a one-day mini-Christmas village, starting at 7 p.m. Bands start at 8:30.
But the party doesn’t stop Saturday. On Sunday, Dec. 13, Carnival Princess and Duchess contestants will compete for their tiaras. The contest begins at 3 p.m. sharp at Island Center for the Performing Arts. Prices are $12 for adults and $6 for children. Come support contestants M’Kyah Williams and Kleshelle Gaskin. Tickets available at Urban Threadz, Essentric Boutique, and Classic Style Boutique, or at the door.
One week later, Sunday, Dec. 20, will be St. Croix’s biggest pageant of the year: the Crucian Christmas Carnival Queen Show, 5 p.m. at Island Center. Advance tickets are $30 for covered seating and $25 for general seating. Keosha Quinn, Isabella Sylvester and Khalifa Antoine are competing for the crown, and last year’s queen AnuMaat Davis Kahina will be there. Prices at the door are $30, but this event usually sells out fast. Check the St. Croix Carnival Facebook page for ticket locations.
On Dec. 26, the day after Christmas, the Frederiksted Festival Village will open on the grounds adjacent to the Paul E. Joseph baseball stadium, with food booths, merchants, carnival rides and games. Opening ceremony will be at 7 p.m. There will be music, rides and food every night until Jan. 3.
Tuesday, Dec. 29, the territory’s top soca bands will compete in the Carnival Village for the title of Soca Monarch, starting at 8 p.m.
Jouvert kicks off early the next morning (Dec. 30) around 5:30 a.m., and will tramp from the Hannah’s Rest Corner in Frederiksted, ending at the Carnival Village. Shortly afterwards, at noon, there be all manner of local pastries, cookies, candies and hot foods, along with local arts and crafts, at the annual food, art and craft fair, around the Eliza McBean Clock Tower next to the historic Fort Frederick in Frederiksted.
That night same night, the island’s top calypso artists will vie for the Calypso Monarch crown, crooning about local politics, culture and carnival, with costumes and props that make for a gala variety show. Show starts 8 p.m. at Island Center.
New Year’s Eve will have a countdown to midnight in the Carnival Village and fireworks.
New Year’s Day, the Children’s Parade rolls out at 10 a.m. and marches through Frederiksted. Then the big party begins as the Adult Parade hits the road Jan. 2 at 10 a.m.
The Village winds up Sunday, Jan. 3 with a night of Latin and Creole music, ending the official roster of Crucian Christmas Festival activities.
But Crucian Christmas isn’t over just yet. Three Kings Day on Jan. 6, 12 days after Christmas day, is a huge holiday for the island’s Puerto Rican population, and there is an annual morning parade through Christiansted, led by three men in costumes representing the three Biblical kings who visited the baby Jesus. Afterward will be the annual Crucian-Rican breakfast at the Christian "Shan" Hendricks Market in Christiansted.