With only 10 days to go before the fifth Carnaval International de Victoria gets under way, Carnival Fever has learned that there are to be major changes to the route.
For the past three years, the mas bands have made a broadly triangular course through Victoria’s compact town centre. However, the area around the VIP seating and judges’ table, in front of the National Cultural Centre (NCC) on Francis Rachel Street, had become very crowded as the popularity of the event grew.
On Saturday 25th April, bands will line up, as before, in Bois de Rose Avenue, which offers an excellent opportunity to preview the costumes and the decorated floats and music trucks. They will set off at about 3pm and pass the NCC.
A little way beyond this, they will turn right into the car park of the Stad Popiler (People’s Stadium), which is normally filled with food stalls and a music stage. Each group will make a circuit of the car park – now rather grandly called Place de la Republique! – passing the judges and VIPs who will be seated next to the stadium itself.
They exit the area the way they came, and turn right to rejoin Francis Rachel Street. From the Clock Tower, the carnivalists go straight on down Albert Street, turn right into Palm Street and head right again into 5th June Avenue. Until now, trucks and people have either finished up at Freedom Square or continued straight on to return to Bois de Rose Avenue.
Instead, at the distinctive white-winged Twa Zwazo (Three Birds) roundabout, where 5th June Avenue crosses Independence Avenue, the procession will now turn left and left again (to avoid ending up in the delicately scented tuna canning factory). The route passes a colourful wall of stacked shipping containers and passes to the left of the Inter-Island Quay, where fast catamarans skim across the turquoise sea to the lovely islands of Praslin and La Digue. However, mas on the water isn’t part of scheme – maybe next year!
This time, trucks, masqueraders and followers will end up next to Espace, the new headquarters of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB). “Participants,” says STB’s press release, “local and international alike, will have a chance to unwind and mingle in the more relaxed atmosphere of the sunset and sea backdrop.”
It will be interesting to see how this works out in practice. The new judging arrangements are almost certainly going to slow down the carnival, so the sun have set by the time the final groups reach Espace. Will revellers choose to follow the bands to the party at the end of the road, or will they stay in the centre of town?
There will certainly be no shortage of things to do on Carnival Day. DJs will be playing music around town from midday to midnight, Warrior Band and Rampage (presumably not from Luton!) will be in Freedom Square, Ezyd is putting on a Carnaval Fiesta and Cabaret Marathon at the waterfront, invited guests will be plied with cocktails in the NCC and to round it all off there’s a Grand Open Air Disco in the Stad Popiler car park. Alternatively, you can head over the hill to Beau Vallon for an after party at Tequila Boom nightclub.