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Batabano

Cayman Carnival Batabano was launched in 1983 by the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman. Held annually during the first week of May, it is undoubtedly one of the main highlights of Cayman's entertainment calendar.

"Batabano" was the original name of Cayman Carnival, chosen as a salute to Cayman's turtling heritage - Batabano refers to the tracks left in the sand by turtles as they drag themselves onto beaches to nest. Finding turtle tracks on the beach was and still is reason to celebrate in Cayman, thus, Cayman Carnival Batabano.

Needless to say, Carnival is a true Caribbean tradition - a cultural kaleidoscope of music, dance and pageantry with roots mirroring the region's diverse history of African and religious influences. The colourful costumes reflect our vibrant landscapes and traditions, and the music is the very rhythm of life in the islands. From Trinidad and Tobago, to Jamaica and the Virgin Islands, carnival is the Caribbean's cultural expression of the arts.

Cayman Carnival Batabano has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception, and requires a great deal of coordination each year. Although Rotary remains a major sponsor, Batabano is now organised by an independent committee of local volunteers, chaired by Donna Myrie-Stephen since 2001. Under Mrs. Myrie-Stephen's leadership, the committee renamed the carnival "Cayman Carnival Batabano", which also carried efforts to bring the look and feel of Batabano events more in line with traditional Caribbean carnivals.

In response to the growing interest of local schools for student participation in the street parade, the committee introduced "Junior Carnival" in 2002 as part of the overall one-day street parade. However, the continued growth and development of the Juniors prompted the committee in 2005 to launch a stand-alone street parade for Cayman's youth called "Junior Carnival Batabano", which takes place the weekend before the adult parade. The objective of developing the Junior Carnival is to create a safe environment for the students to play mas, and to place more emphasis on teaching the students the art of costume-making for generations to come.

Thousands of locals and visitors flock to the streets every year to celebrate Batabano and now also Junior Carnival Batabano. Major corporate sponsors continue to come forward in support of this cultural event, while the Ministry of Education and the Education Department offer their endorsement and sponsorship of the Junior masqueraders.

The energy of Cayman Carnival Batabano is electrifying. Districts and corporate groups join together in costume to compete for prizes as the design and choreography become more elaborate each year. It is a time to celebrate local surroundings, to display creativity, to voice social issues and of course, to party and unite.

http://www.caymancarnival.com/