History


The Cambridge Carnival International is celebrating 24 years in 2016! Cambridge Carnival is a colorful and festive celebration that is rooted in African traditions. During slavery, the Carnival celebration was originally done in secret, which spawned public communication and cultural bonding for the Afro-Caribbean cultures from as far back as the 1600s. Since the abolition of slavery in the early 1800’s in the U.S. and Caribbean, Carnival today has become a celebration of emancipation, freedom and expression.  Free people could publicly celebrate their native culture, emancipation and, freedom of expression through costumes, masks, music, drumming and dancing. More historical context can be found at this link here.

Cambridge Carnival has come a long way from a small street fair at University Park in 1992, to now one of the most spectacular events in the Greater Boston area. Today, Cambridge Carnival is one of the largest outdoor multicultural festivals in New England and is now the largest festival in Cambridge. After 12 years of growth, in 2004, Cambridge Carnival, which used to take place in August every year, outgrew its Central Square location and found a home in Kendall Square and is now held the Sunday after Labor Day. The annual Cambridge Carnival International festival brings together Cambridge’s diverse community in celebration of all free people of the world for a spectacular annual costume parade.

Cambridge Carnival is one of 24 North American Caribbean-style carnivals that display the diverse cultures of all the countries and Caribbean islands. The event combines wire-bending, costumes, masks, music, steel pan, street parades, dancing, food and craft exhibits. We are a non-profit organization of volunteers, including Cambridge residents from all backgrounds.  Representative of many cultures, Cambridge Carnival continues to follow the traditional models of the Caribbean and Brazil in producing a parade filled with Masquerades, steel drums, dancing, and floats. The Carnival is strategically located in Kendall Square for the festival and travels through Central Square.

Cambridge Carnival International features:

  • Vendors from Cambridge and across the northeast including, local restaurants and caterers, food trucks, and specialty food producers
  • A colorful parade with steel bands and a costume competition!
  • An interactive and hands-on KidsFest that is free for families and includes face painting, arts and crafts, stilt walking, train rides and other activities.
  • Live Music featuring local bands and guest DJs
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