Since its earliest inception, carnival has served as a delicious deception; a joyful, absolutely unfettered excuse to let loose, have fun, and most of all, forget your troubles. In this sense it might only seem fitting that Haiti should host not one, not two, but three primary carnival celebrations each year.
That, however, would be missing the real point behind the country’s Carnaval des Fleurs.
Held each year in July, the Carnaval des Fleurs, or Carnival of Flowers, is still pretty new. The first one went down in 2012, though it comes off as every bit the longstanding cultural phenomena that are its sibling celebrations.
Like Haiti’s main pre-Lenten Mardi Gras Carnaval, which in recent years has moved around to different cities throughout the country, the Carnaval des Fleurs is a big, loud, and bright festival filled with music, dancing, parades, costumed-revelers, pomp and Creole circumstance.
Like the Jacmel Carnival held each year in southern Haiti’s principal town, the Carnaval des Fleurs stays put, all the fun and revelry confined to Port-au-Prince.
So, what’s different about the Carnaval des Fleurs?
One word: YOU!
True to its name, the Carnaval des Fleurs highlights Haiti’s wide variety of exotic fauna, but another main reason it was started was to boost tourism arrivals during the mid-summer period.
That’s right, this carnival is being put on annually by the Government of Haiti to entice people like you and me to pay Port-au-Prince a summertime visit. It seems like a lot of us are taking them up on the invitation as well.
Quoting Haiti Ministry of Tourism statistics, our friends at Caribbean Journal reported that 20,000+ people traveled to Haiti during the 10-day Carnaval des Fleurs festival period last year, a good portion of them for leisure fun like carnival reveling.
So yeah, there may be ample reasons to party and forget troubles in Haiti, but the Carnaval des Fleurs is about much more than just a good time. It’s about Haiti standing up on her own and doing something constructive to get its economy jump started, with tourism providing the spark.
A very good reason to smile, and get down to Port-au-Prince next July, indeed.