We saw a carnival in the Bahamas! The Marina Village in the luxurious resort Atlantis on Paradise Island organizes a mini-carnival on weekend nights (or maybe every night, I don’t know) for the entertainment of its guests. About ten-twenty locals dressed in traditional costumes walked, danced, played music, and sang along the main alley while the crowd of tourists gathered around them and joined in the festivity.

The costumes were gorgeous: long robes and lavish head adornment in bright colors with feathers and beads. The atmosphere was great!

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The Marina Village carnival reminded me of a similar event in Bulgaria.

The Kukeri Processions

In January, Bulgarian men dress up as Kukeri, ferocious beasts with coats of fur and feathers and large masks with fangs, beaks, and wings who scare the cold and the evil winter spirits away. The kukeri dance around the streets and ring big copper bells (chans).

By tradition, kukeri are young men and bachelors. They gather in groups and every group has a leader. There are similar characters in every group – there is a bride and groom, an old grandmother, a gypsy man with a dancing bear, a king; and all of them are men. Some of the more flamboyant costumes have wolf and fox fur and heads or paws, and real stag horns. Some masks are funny, and some are literally hideous and scary. The kukeri perform different rituals for fertility and good harvest.

The ritual is very typical of Eastern Bulgaria. The biggest annual kukeri carnival takes place in Pernik, just outside of Sofia.

Read more about the Kukeri Processions here. This is a good website on various carnivals around the world and also features articles on the Bulgarian traditions  martenitzi and Trifon Zarezan.