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Carnival in French Guiana
Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni and surrounding
Culture, Traditions, Folklore,  Festivals
Culture, Traditions, Folklore, 

French Guiana has its own carnival - Le Carnaval de Guyane - a masquerade that covers the capital of Cayenne and the communes of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni and Kourou every year. Costumed celebrations are one of the most striking attractions of the festival in Guiana.

Festive events took place from the Epiphany (according to the Catholic calendar - in early January) until Palm Sunday in February - early March, after which the Great Lent begins. The culmination of the holiday is a colorful procession in costumes: a competition between the regions of Guiana in originality and creativity.

The masquerade necessarily includes symbolic characters and stories that combine elements of Christian and African cultures. The key figure of the carnival is King Vaval: he is "born" at the beginning of the holiday and departs this colorful world to return a year later and watch the fun again. The most striking moment of the carnival is the burning of an effigy of the king.

The holiday also has its own colorful symbols. The stages of the celebration are indicated by a specific color from flaming red to dramatic black. This tradition has historical roots: the colors are related to certain events in the history and religious life of Guiana.

On preparatory Sundays parades march through the streets of the city, then participants rehearse the future grand procession and find fans of their performances. Apart from its symbolic and historical components, it is also an ethnic festival. Local Chinese and Brazilian communities dress in costumes typical for their folk traditions. It is important for all participants not only to walk along the streets but to do it effectively and in the rhythm of dancing. This is why dance workshops are held several days a week before the carnival.

Music must match skillful dances. Participation in processions is also an important task for orchestras. Many performers become real folk stars. At the end of the carnival the two most beloved orchestras take part in a musical "duel" at the Grand Blanc Music Hall.

Address: Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni

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