Mardi Gras (Carnaval) in August!

This weekend 15,000 spectators reveled in Mardi Gras (or “carnaval” in French) on the main streets of Nouméa. New Caledonia’s 25th carnaval was a spectacular sight with 1,300 participants, including 120 dancers and 50 percussionists. The parade consisted of 20 floats, representing many countries and cultures across the globe (as the theme of carnaval this year was “carnaval of the worlds”). A delight to the ears and eyes, it lasted 2 hours and finished at 20.30 with fireworks over the bay.

But why in August? Isn’t carnaval traditionally celebrated in February? February is one of our hottest times of year, and here, carnaval is usually  celebrated in April (two months after the summer break). This year was the first year it was moved to August, to accommodate businesses and partners and allow for more preparation time. Dancers and percussionists can and do come from all walks of life – experience is not required. It was felt that a little extra time to prepare the parade and the 170 dancers and musicians would not be a bad investment. Which turned out to be right on the money!

Below you’ll find some highlights from Noumeá’s Mardi Gras this year (our favourites included the opening by a fabulous Japanese group, flown in specially; the Rio and Brazil floats and dancers; the Star Wars dancers/characters; and the many young dancers who had been practicing for months). The last image is of the fireworks, hailed as  “magnifique” by our little guy. Truly an exceptional experience in Noumeá – we’re so glad they moved it to August!

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