Trinidad: Carnival Stage Set

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – The “A Taste of Carnival 2022” schedule has been released with both virtual and in-person safe zone events to be held from February 4 to March 1.

During a National Carnival Commission (NCC) news conference yesterday, NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters said the proposed budget for this year will be $25 million to $30 million.

Pod-seating socially-distanced events are being held at the Queen’s Park Savannah (QPS), Port of Spain, it was also announced.

Events will also be held at Queen’s Hall and Naparima Bowl, all deemed safe zones for fully vaccinated patrons and artistes only.

At the news conference at the NCC VIP Lounge, Carnival City, Queen’s Park Savannah yesterday, Peters said, “In putting together our schedule of events, we have tried our best to fit in as many of those traditional and not so traditional Carnival elements into a format that can capture and impact as many as reasonably possible.

“We would have calypso tents, Calypso Fiesta and Calypso Monarch festival.

“There will be a special mas competition for the Carnival King and Queens and special pan events for single pan, medium bands and indeed large bands…

“I am pleased to say there will be a Canboulay riot re-enactment and stick-fight exhibition right here on our big stage. And of course we will have the Dimanche Gras show on February 27, right here also at Carnival City and indeed we are going to have much, much more.”

He added: “Celebrating our culture and enjoying ourselves responsibly, this is what we aim to achieve and with the public support, I truly believe that we can.”

NCC announced the first calypso show commencing this Friday would be virtual.

Huge task ahead

When asked about promoters and artistes hosting their own events outside of the schedule of events released, NCC officials said some discussions have been taking place but it was not determined how far the discussions have gotten.

Officials said some persons have come forward requesting to host their events and once they adhere to all safe zone requirements, and follow the usual process of hosting Carnival events, it can be done.

Peters added: “We have a huge task ahead of us. We are prepared to show the world that as a nation, Trinidad and Tobago has the means, the agency, the right attitudes to stage A Taste of Carnival 2022.

“As we know it, Trinidad and Tobago is the land of Carnival. It is the home of Carnival. It is the home from which all other types of Carnival around the world came, and if they can do it, we can as well.

“I leave you with my every assurance that if we act responsibly and keep our minds open and never lose sight of what Carnival truly is and what it truly means to Trinidad and Tobago, we can use A Taste of Carnival 2022 as a stepping stone for Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival of the future.”

Pod seating

In an attempt to ensure a great experience while preventing the spread of Covid-19, the NCC has introduced pod seating at the Queen’s Park Savannah.

The pods, which have become a trend at stadiums and large concert venues worldwide especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, are currently being constructed at Carnival City, Queen’s Park Savannah.

Over 200 small and large pods are being constructed.

Consisting of scaffolding and steel barriers, the open-air styled separated “rooms will allow patrons the opportunity to buy tickets in groups of no more than six or nine.

The small pods for groups of six are 8’x8’ in size and the larger pods for groups of no more than nine are 12’x8’ in size.

The layout of Carnival City also includes lanes separating the pods that would be named in honour of local artistes such as Kitchener Lane and Spree Simon Avenue.

Peters said, “We are pleased to announce the introduction of our pods layout with our re-designed North Park space. The modified layout feature isolated pods, where patrons can safely and responsibly gather while they attend the Carnival activities here at Carnival City.

“Each pod is ideally located to maximise participation within the larger events and to facilitate a more controlled space for small clusters of persons.”

Explaining how NCC will manage the crowd, Peters said, “Once you are in your pod, that is your space… Because we can’t hold more than ten persons at a time in any space so we have the pods that can hold six people in some of them, and we have bigger ones that can hold nine persons. So we are well within the confines of what you have to do in terms of cluster of persons.”

People will not be allowed to roam the Savannah or move from pod to pod.

Instead, bathrooms and vendors will be set up near the pods so patrons can easily access the facilities and return to their designated pods.

Persons will also not be allowed to consume food or drink outside of the pods.

There will be police and compliance officers present to ensure there are no large gatherings in one area and that persons are limited to the space of their pod with their teams.

Asked whether this new model would continue going forward, Peters said, “Not if we have the normal Carnival. If we have the normal Carnival, we prefer to have everybody and it would hold more people and there would be no restrictions. But, we believe that with the restrictions that we are having, it is incumbent upon us to keep our people safe. That is the reason why we’re doing exactly what we’re doing.”

Groups less than six, for example a couple or even one individual can also purchase pods since no two groups of people will be allowed to share a pod.

There would also be pod-like seating in the Grand Stand area.

NCC said the ticket prices for events would be released later this week.

Vaccines for patrons

NCC also announced there will be two days, dates to be announced, allocated for persons to get vaccinated in preparation of A Taste of Carnival 2022.

Peters said, “I am pleased to say that in conjunction with the NCRHA (North Central Regional Health Authority), we will offer all Carnival patrons, participants, practitioners, artistes and the like, two days of check-ups.

“And this is basically for the artistes and the practitioners of Carnival but it is not to say that other persons cannot be included.

“We offer you two days of check-ups and vaccinations to ensure your health and wellness in readiness for a taste of Carnival 2022 as we see this as an investment of not just the preparedness of this year’s events but part of our overall mandate to protect and take care of our whole community as we move forward in this pandemic.”

Reiterating that the events will be for fully vaccinated patrons only, Peters said there would be stringent checks for people entering the Queen’s Park Savannah and the police will be on standby to arrest anyone caught with false vaccination cards.

He said a digital system will be set up with health officials present at the venue to check vaccine cards upon entry.

The NCC is currently working on having digital and radio-frequency identification (RFID) wrist bands for patrons to ensure persons do not manipulate the system in place.