Fun in the sun

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
Sometimes attributed to Dr. Seuss


Every second year St Helena has its Carnival

Location Map carnival

Below: What happens for CarnivalImages of CarnivalRead More

Carnival was fantastic, the costumes and exuberance of it all was brilliant!{f}

What happens for Carnival

Governor Lisa Phillips joined the 2016 parade
Governor Lisa Phillips joined the 2016 parade{g}

Carnival is organised by and in support of Cancer Support.

The events start with a parade down through the town, starting at the hospital (usually officially at 3pm, but in practice…) and proceeding down Market Street and Main Street to the seaside. This is an immensely colourful affair with fabulous costumes and imaginatively decorated floats. Each group plays its own choice of music, leading to a merry cacophony of sound! Individuals take part too, not just groups. The walk from the hospital to the seaside would normally take about fifteen minutes - on Carnival day it can take more than an hour!

Upon arrival at the seaside there are numerous stalls set up where you can buy refreshments, souvenirs and other items. The seaside bars and restaurants are open too and everyone mills around, mostly still in costume, enjoying the afternoon. Then as darkness falls the serious partying begins…and continues well into the night with much alcohol consumption!

Everyone joins in. The chap on the right in the photo above, playing the bongo drum, is actually a member of Legislative Council! Carnival is always in aid of an island charity, to which all funds raised are donated. Recent Carnivals have been in aid of Cancer Support.

Images of Carnival

Clearly the only way to experience Carnival is to take part. But until you come and visit here are some pictures…

Carnival, 1983{h}
…one of the Sounds of St Helena

Click here to hear this audio file, or hover on the icon (right)


The island’s first Carnival was held on 23rd May 1983. You can hear an excerpt of the street sounds (right).

Read More

Article: Carnival, just like being in Brazil

Published on the blog tpholvey.wordpress.com 25th October 2014{1}{2}

If there is one thing that St Helena does well (actually there are lots of things it does well, Nicknames, tuna, coffee and gossip spring to mind) then it is parades. There are lots of them too, I’ve already commented on a few in previous posts, I’ve been here for just over a year and there has been a parade for Christmas, one for Cancer Support, one for Saint Helena day, remembrance Sunday and I’m sure a few that I can’t even remember at the moment.

The latest one though was the biggest and best, it was Carnival. It’s only held every 2 years which makes it that bit more special and the colour, music and general vibrancy made it different to all the others. The parades generally include floats and well, I suppose a parade. They always start at the Hospital (very close to our house) and work their way down Market Street towards the wharf, it’s pretty much a 1.5 mile walk in a straight line. The carnival dispensed with those pesky floats though and much more simply and very effectively relied on 1,000 people (a quarter of the islands population) to simply dance down the street to a variety of tunes. There were plenty of carnival type costumes, some very random and quite inventive fancy dress (the pink nuns spring to mind) and to give it that unique Saint feel a lot of country and western outfits.

I myself was attempting to contribute to the day by providing some of the costumes for one of the primary schools. Well, bringing them with me from the UK following my recent trip home anyway (I wasn’t ever going to be sewing or anything like that). It was quite a simple task, order 13 bumble bee outfits for young girls from Amazon and pack them in my case to bring back to the island. I have to admit, when I was asked I never quite considered what a man on his own with a suitcase full of fancy dress outfits for young girls would look like to a customs officer. But (and in a way quite thankfully) they didn’t turn up before I’d left, so it was left to my mum to post them onwards. Unfortunately, as with many things in our postal system, they didn’t arrive, and still haven’t. We’re expecting them next March I think!

Anyway back to the Carnival itself. It was a really good day, Jamestown is such a vibrant place when it’s busy and that actually doesn’t happen that often. There were stalls and food, the bars were all open, there was dancing and competitions, all in all it was excellent. However, in a very bizarre way it reminded me of an event, happening at exactly the same time 5,000 miles away in rural Lincolnshire.

Meg Feast is a family tradition in the Holvey household. It’s the autumn feast day for Metheringham village, where my dad grew up and where we spent a lot of time as children. As a kid Meg Feast was magical, the nights were drawing in, it was getting cold and it marked the start of a period that is great fun for any child, Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and my birthday (ok the last one does not apply to any child, just me). It was a day the whole family got together, we were at my Grandparents with a roaring fire, lots of food and all the extended family like dad’s cousins, aunties and uncles popping in. It always ended with a game of Newmarket (the best card game ever) a lot of teasing and some very funny arguments. For the first 30 years of my life I never missed a feast day. The day stems from the celebration of harvest and always occurs in mid autumn. It’s evolved now into a general day of fun and festivities (and a hell of a lot of drinking, usually of Batemans XB). The fare is there and stalls line the streets of the village, it’s visited by people from all over Lincolnshire but holds a very special place in the heart of anyone with a connection to the place. I still don’t like missing it.

But on this day, I was at Carnival instead, and despite how different it sounds the similarities are remarkable. The community feel, the makeshift stalls, the selling of random home made items like cakes and craft and the drinking, there’s always the drinking. The food is different but a big part of both days. In Meg it’s stuffed chine (a cheap cut of ham stuffed with parsley), hazlet and plum loaf. In Saint Helena it’s plo, curry and tuna. The real difference is the clothes, Lincolnshire in mid October does not lend itself to carnival outfits (in fact I’m not sure it ever does). Woolly jumpers, hats and gloves are the order of the day. Carnival is different, skimpy, glittery outfits and very strange fancy dress give it a different look, but the community feel and sense of fun make Carnival and Meg Feast two events, that whilst a whole world apart, share a very common theme.

{a} Government of St Helena{b} Cancer Support & Awareness{c} Governor Lisa Phillips{d} Creative Saint Helena{e} Tourist Office{f} Paul Tyson, 20th October 2016{1}{g} Governor Lisa Phillips{h} St Helena National Trust

⋅ Click the highlighted marker (if any) to return to where you were before.

{1} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.{2} See more blogs.

⋅ Click the highlighted marker (if any) to return to where you were before.