The large official public celebration of carnival in Haiti started in 1804 in the capitol of Haiti, Port-au-Prince.
Kanaval celebrations were traditionally considered “sinful” to Protestant Haitians, who were advised by their ministers not to participate. The Kanaval celebrations were criticized for condoning sexually-suggestive dancing, profanity-filled plays, music lyrics mocking authority, and Vodouand kompa music rhythms.
Kanaval celebrations were greatly curtailed by the 2010 Haiti earthquake, although they still took place on a much-reduced scale, with only one quarter of the usual budget. There was disagreement among Haitians about whether or not it was appropriate to have Kanaval at all in early 2011. The 2011 Kanaval featured many costumed performers satirizing darker themes than usual, such as the post-earthquake cholera epidemic and the need for humanitarian relief. In 2012, Kanaval was held on a larger scale and was a success.
Haitian Carnival is a celebration held over several weeks each year leading up to Mardi Gras. Haitian Defile Kanaval is the Haitian Creole name of the main annual Mardi Gras carnival held inPort-au-Prince, Haiti.
The parade is known in Creole as “defile”. Haiti’s largest annual carnival is held in the capitol and largest city, Port-au-Prince, with smaller celebrations taking part simultaneously in Jacmel,Aux Cayes, and other locations in Haiti. The annual Kanaval celebrations coincide with other Mardi Gras carnivals around the world.
Haiti also has smaller carnival celebrations during the year that are separate from the main Kanaval. These include Rara, a series of processions taking place during the Catholic Lent season, that has bands and parades like the larger main Kanaval, and also an annual Kanaval de Fleur that takes place in July.