For the first time since 2019, New York City’s West Indian-American Day Carnival and Parade will return to Brooklyn this Labor Day. After a two-year Covid hiatus, the festival, which typically attracts over a million spectators, will be back fully in-person this year. The days-long festival takes over the stretch of Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, celebrating the diversity of Caribbean culture with dancing, elaborate costumes, traditional music, and food.
New York City’s Caribbean Carnival has roots in Harlem, where many immigrants from the West Indies settled at the turn of the 20th century. During the 1920s, Trinidad native, Jessie Wardell, began the Carnival in Harlem by hosting extravagant costume parties that were modeled after Carnival, an international event typically held in the winter, before Ash Wednesday.
After many indoor celebrations, the event moved outdoors, with the first known Carnival street parade in NYC occurring on September 1, 1947. Two decades later, the parade moved to Crown Heights, where it remains today.
This year’s parade takes place on Monday, September 5 at 11 a.m. and runs down Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, beginning on Schenectady Avenue and ending at Grand Army Plaza.
Many revelers also participate in J’Ouvert, a predawn public street festival that kicks off the Carnival. The origins of the celebration date back to slavery times and are based on masquerade balls of French settlers in the 18th century, as 6sqft previously learned. Because slaves in Trinidad were banned from attending, once emancipated, they created their own carnivals, as a way to mock their masters and celebrate freedom.
While traditions vary, participants will smear paint and powder on their bodies and place horns on their heads. Some dress as African warriors, devils, or goblins, and dance to the sounds of steel drums.
J’Ouvert takes place from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and runs on Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Empire Boulevard.
Schedule of Caribbean Carnival events for Labor Day Weekend:
- Thursday, September 1: Vibes With Voicey The Concert New York: Soca and Shayo at the Brooklyn Museum, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- Friday, September 2: Island 2 Island at the Brooklyn Museum, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- Saturday, September 3: Junior Carnival, starts at Kingston Avenue and St. John’s Place, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Saturday, September 3: Pan in a Mirror, with a Minor Change, at the Brooklyn Museum, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, September 4: Paintopia Jouvert, at the Brooklyn Museum, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Sunday, September 4: Amnesia day party at the Brooklyn Museum, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- Monday, September 5: J’Ouvert, 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.
- Monday, September 5: Labor Day Carnival
The following streets will be fully closed for the J’ouvert and West Indian American Labor Day Parade and Festival on Monday, September 5, 2022, in Brooklyn:
- Grand Army Plaza (Entire Circle)
- Buffalo Avenue between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
- Rochester Avenue between East New York Avenue and Sterling Place
- Ralph Avenue between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
- East New York Avenue between Howard Avenue and Utica Avenue
- Eastern Parkway between Howard Avenue and Grand Army Plaza
- Washington Avenue between Sterling Place and Lincoln Road
- Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Caton Avenue
- Ocean Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Parkside Avenue
- Butler Place between Grand Army Plaza and Sterling Place
- St. John’s Place between Underhill Avenue and Grand Army Plaza
- Rockaway Parkway between East New York Avenue and Rutland Road
- Parkside Avenue between Park Circle and Flatbush Avenue
- Bedford Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Empire Boulevard
- Empire Boulevard between Flatbush Avenue and Nostrand Avenue
- Nostrand Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Linden Boulevard
- Lincoln Place between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
- The history of Brooklyn’s Caribbean Carnival, the most colorful event in New York City
- NYC’s West Indian American Day, Mermaid Parades canceled over Covid
- 16 things to do in NYC this Labor Day Weekend