The inspiration to host the Guyana Carnival came from Guyana’s 50th Independence Jubilee celebrations, says Chairman of the organising committee Bobby Vieira, who is hopeful that the event will be another tourism-boosting calendar activity.
The Guyana Carnival, which promises locals and foreigners 10 days of revelry, including over 20 events, was launched at the Marriott Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown, on Wednesday.
At the opening ceremony, the Carnival Committee highlighted and explained the rationale behind hosting an event criticised as being similar to Mashramani.
Vieira, Chairman of the Guyana Carnival Committee and a veteran broadcaster, explained that the idea to host such an event was birthed from the 50th independence jubilee celebrations.
“After the 2016 grand Independence celebrations, members of the Hits and Jams organisation felt there was a need for a festival to sustain momentum and one that should be held annually. It was from this observation and collaboration the Guyana Carnival was realised,” Vieira announced, before adding that “Carnival 2018, therefore, is simply to add another festival to the annual calendar of events in order to promote tourism, entertainment and awareness for locals, members of the diaspora and visitors to enjoy.”
“Guyana Carnival is set to give Guyana a significant tourism boost and create an opportunity for all within the service industry to benefit and provide a major revenue income for both the state and business in general,” he further said.
Vieira was quick to note that the Carnival celebrations are no competition for Mashramani and stated that the committee remains supportive of the event which celebrates Guyana’s achievement of Republican status.
According to the Chairman, there was “never a thought to replace Mashramani” from members of the committee, as he said they feel that the celebration of cultural activities, especially one marking such an achievement, is important to the nation.
The Guyana Carnival is being organised and promoted by the private sector.
Vieira added that the committee is excited to be in a position to create a platform that can “boost our country both economically and socially” in a grand celebration, while noting that the event is an opportunity “for locals to enjoy an international carnival as well for the local service industries to profit.”
In the execution of the carnival, Vieira said jobs will be created for 500 persons, including taxi drivers, barbers and cosmetologists.
Throughout the 10 days of events, Vieira related that there will be a variety of fetes, including boat cruises, J’ouvert, mega concerts, breakfast parties, and pool parties.
The lineup of events will also include a pageant and the inaugural Guyana Carnival Sevens Rugby tournament, to be held at the National Park.
Asked about security measures, Rawle Ferguson, Head of Logistics on the Guyana Carnival Committee, said that on their committee are members of the Guyana Police Force who have experience in crowd control. He noted that police and other security would be in place to monitor every fete.
In addition to the parties, the promoters have identified the avenue on Main Street for a weekly street fair, which will begin on May 4th, and is to be held every Friday until May 26th.
“This will feature food, drinks, arts, craft, music and local entertainers. This event will give our creators and producers of art an opportunity to vend their products through the carnival season,” Vieira explained.
Like carnivals around the world, Vieira said that patrons will be afforded the opportunity to masquerade through the streets of Georgetown in beautifully designed costumes. Along the parade, Vieira stated that there will be several trucks equipped with music, food and drinks, and toilet facilities.
Revelers would parade from the Kitty pump station to Vlissingen Road, before making their way to D’Urban Park.
“We have a rest stop and have lunch and then we continue up Vlissingen Road and turn left onto Thomas Lands into National Park…,” he explained, noting that the road march has been set for May 26th.
Along the route, he noted, the Mayor and City Council will identify and allocate spots for vending.
Vieira related that the committee has also launched a unique band where revelers can create their own costumes to participate in the revelry. He noted that to be a part of this particular band persons would be required to pay $10,000 for food and facilities.
Touching on prices, Vieira said that prices have been calculated to be lower or equivalent to similar and new carnival destinations, both regionally and internationally.
To make participating in Carnival more affordable, the committee has also introduced Carnival loans to allow patrons an opportunity to participate in all the scheduled events.
At the launch, Coordinator of Hospitality Jovan Wilson explained that persons can borrow a maximum of $300,000, to be repaid at a rate of $9,620 per month.
Wilson noted that the loan can be repaid within a year and interested persons are asked to visit the Hits and Jams office at 206 Lance Gibbs Street for more information.
Further, Wilson announced that the committee has collaborated with local tour companies to create special day tour packages. Special packages for accommodation were also crafted for visitors and hotels have indicated that they are pre-booked for the carnival period.
The committee has also teamed up with corporate entities such as Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), Fly Jamaica and LIAT airlines to offer special promotions for the carnival period.
While the airlines would offer discounted airfare, DDL has rebranded its Diamond Mineral Water to be the official water for Guyana Carnival. El Dorado Rum and Pepsi have been designated as the official alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Big names in the Soca music industry, such as Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin, Fayon Lyons, Kes the Band, Shal Marshal, Destra, Patrice Roberts and others, have collaborated with the carnival committee and are slated to perform at the events.
Since the announcement of the carnival, the committee has been marketing packages which include access to fetes, costumes and accommodation. An estimated 1,500 persons are expected to patriciate in the event. Contingents from neighbouring Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago are also expected to be among the revelers.
For more information, persons can visit the carnival website at http://www.guyanacarnival592.com/ or the Guyana Carnival’s social media pages.