Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rotterdam Carnival 2013

Earlier this year, my trip to Trinidad Carnival was an amazing experience and provided a wonderful opportunity to meet, network and establish friendships with contacts internationally. One person that I was fortunate to build a friendship and remain in contact with is Odette.  Odette is a carnival lover based in London, and has attended carnivals including Rio and Trinidad. Being that I have limited familiarity with carnivals in Europe, I am happy Odette will share her experience at Rotterdam Carnival, as well as other European Carnivals. Here is her review of Rotterdam Carnival 2013!

Planning for Rotterdam Carnival:

I booked to go to my first Rotterdam carnival more or less as soon as I came back from Trinidad Carnival 2013.  With the carnival being held in June, it was a good few months away! I kept my soca addiction going by listening to local online radio stations (Soca Frenzy and Flagz) and by downloading music from SoundCloud.  I had a few CDs from Trinidad but I needed more!  There is a steady soca scene in London with growing excitement from the younger generation who like the hard bass lines.  

For Rotterdam, my crew was my sister and I, as well as I vaguely knew a few others who would be going as well. In terms of deciding on a band, I logged onto TriniConnections's Facebook page and found out loads of info and decided to jump up with them.

On arrival, on Friday 14 June, the European sun came trough and we were happy.  We chilled out until the pre-party which was just as well! The fete was like a simmering pot which built up to boiling point.  Let’s just say I arrived with tidy hair and left with it undone! DJ Stephen did good and played a thorough selection of upfront soca. FOGGED UP DE PLACE! I left after 4am knowing we had to be ready for de road in a few hours!

Carnival Day (Saturday):
 Time to cut up our t-shirts.  I'm still learning the art so it took me an hour to cut up two t-shirts!  It's important to look good and feel comfortable! After meeting the band, and a short delay, we the "Survivors" hit the road.  All I can say is it started out hype and ended up a frenzy! Have a look at the pictures!  POWDER!!! We were on the road for around 4 hours (short by Trini standards) but it was so intense the whole time, it was just as well.  I jump, I whine, I spread my hands and LEHGOOOO!!!!

Time to rest tired legs and rest up for the after party. Most of the crew seemed to make it.  There were some tired people in there, but it was good to meet faces from the road again and seal the promise to return in 2014!

Rotterdam Carnival Summary:
Rotterdam Carnival has been going for over 20 years.  It has around 2000 participants and attracts around 900,000 visitors from around the world.

The dates changed for 2013 from end July to mid-June.  It is a carnival of cultures so you will see many different types of bands and hear lots of different music with influences from Brazil, the Caribbean and Africa.  There are two big stages and other events going on throughout the festival period which actually ran from 11-16 June 2013.

However, if soca is your thing, there are at least two crews travelling from London. Flagz radio does a coach trip and you can fete with them the whole time or just jump up with them.  My understanding is they have been going for a couple of years and they therefore have a younger following. TriniConnection are more established and have a dedicated family like following from London and other parts of Europe and Ducth Soca Lovers! A real mix and lots of fun!


Next stop Notting Hill Carnival, London, 25-26 August 2013!


  1. It's almost like Notting Hill festival. What's the difference between Notting Hill and Rotterdam carnival?

  2. Notting Hill Carnival is much larger being the biggest street festival in Europe. Notting Hill has a heavy focus on Caribbean culture & music, although it now attracts a very cosmopolitan crowd reflective of the population of London. There are also several sound systems in Notting Hill which means you can experience a street party and the street parade. Essentially, the layout and set up of the festivals are quite different but the mas band experience will be very similar once you choose the right band for you.