Get ready to jump as Cayman Carnival Batabano returns next month.

Woman in red carnival dress

Woman in purple and green carnival attireIt’s a time when cultures come together for a brief but memorable time as the whole country celebrates life under the umbrella of carnival.

“Carnival is about love, unity, togetherness and harmony,” says Donna Myrie-Stephen chair of the Batabano volunteer committee. “It’s uniting everyone in a joyous celebration of life.”

Carnival is particularly fitting for the Cayman Islands given the melting pot of more than 130 nationalities who reside here – one country with many cultures. Batabano’s slogan is: Celebrating All Cultures as One.

Now in its 36th year, Batabano has grown from a one-day affair since its inception in 1980 to a multi-event celebration spanning eight days. A junior carnival was introduced in 2002, and events such as a food festival and J’ouvert parade have broadened its appeal.

Woman wearing light blue carnival costumeThe word “batabano” is a nod to Cayman’s turtling heritage.

“It refers to the tracks left in the sand by sea turtles,” says Donna. “Back in the day – and even now – those tracks were always a reason to celebrate.”

And those celebrations are done up big, bold and bright. The highlight is the grand costume street parade along West Bay Road and into George Town. It’s an explosion of color, costumes, music and dance. It takes place on Saturday, May 4.

“People now plan their vacations and time away for Batabano – it’s a calendar event that’s known,” says Donna. “It is the national carnival of the Cayman Islands.”

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Carnival revellers