This year's theme is Carnival Culture

 
 
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Each year Bath Carnival is transformed with a new theme, inspiring fresh costume designs, dance choreographies and musical compositions while ensuring our creative workshops are forever evolving and carnival procession constantly progressing.

This year's theme is 'Carnival Culture', and we invite you to take a closer look at three of the most famous and distinctive styles of carnival from around the globe.

Once you've chosen your carnival style you can start preparing for the big day. At our free carnival workshops you can create your own colourful costume, throw some serious shapes at a beginners dance class and experience drumming as part of a large ensemble.

 
 
 

Rio Carnival

 
 
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It's the largest carnival in the world with over 2 million people taking to the streets each day over the course of one week. Our Rio bloc is inspired by one of the oldest Samba schools in Rio de Janeiro; Estação Primeira de Mangueira (Mangueria). Our costume designers are working with schools and community groups to create a new batch of boldly coloured outfits in the school's trade mark pink and green.

Meanwhile hundreds of drummers across the South West are rehearsing their own interpretations of the high tempo style of Batucada Samba, preparing for an incredible collaborative performance in this year's procession.

 
 
 

 Caribbean Carnival

 
 
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Each of the Caribbean islands has its own distinct themes and traditions, with the most iconic being the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. We take a closer look at the origins of this incredible carnival; the distinctive sound of the steel pans and the rich oranges and yellows that are synonymous with their costumes.

New collaborations with Caribbean carnivals in the UK will see professional dance practitioners teaching new dance choreographies inspired by traditional African dance. Dance groups will showcase their dances to traditional calypso music at the carnival.

 
 
 

 New Orleans Mardi Gras

 
 
 
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The third and final style is Mardi Gras ('Fat Tuesday'), a holiday celebrated in Southern Louisiana, most famously in New Orleans. While most carnivals around the world refer to a specific group in the procession as a carnival 'bloc', in Mardi Gras it's known as a 'krewe'.

The Krewe of Rex are the origin of many Mardi Gras traditions including the official colours of purple, green and yellow which inspire our own Mardi Gras costumes this year. 

Musically, the parades are famed for enormous brass ensembles which have evolved from the traditional jazz funerals, whereby a brass band follows behind the hearse and mourners. This year we are forming our very own Mardi Gras Brass Band, with London's Brass Funkeys leading a series of horn and percussion workshops with local music students.

 

Carnival Terminology

Rio Carnival

Carnival Blocos - Often abbreviated to Bloco, a Brazilian term for the individual street bands at a carnival, representing specific regions.

Mas Camp - Large groups of volunteers building and repairing masquerade costumes in preparation for the upcoming carnival.

Sambódromo – A huge purpose built avenue which the largest parades pass through in Rio.

Samba no pé – Literally means' Samba in the foot'; to be a natural at dancing Samba.

Caribbean

Mas (Masquerade) Band A specific theme group comprising of a band in costume with music and floats.

Bacchanal – a wild party.

Jump Up - Means what it says, jump up and dance with the mas band.

Fête – Numerous parties and events surround the main festival, these are often referred to as Fêtes.

Wine or Whining – a style of dance characterized by movement of the hips and and waist.

Mardi Gras

Krewe – An organisation which hosts a Mardi Gras carnival parade or ball during carnival season. The largest krewes are known as 'super krewes'

Throws - The materials thrown from floats to the parade watchers below. The most common throw is strings of beads although doubloons (large painted coins) boas, stuffed animals, food and toys are also used.

First and Second Line – the main or 'first' line refers to the mains section of the parade including the brass band. The second line is made up of revellers who follow, partying to the music.

Mardi Gras Umbrella – Umbrellas originally used by mourners to block the heat of the sun while following a funeral procession. Decorated with bright colours they now feature in the second line of Mardi Gras parades.