This year's National Children's Carnival parade–or Muestra Nacional de Carnaval Infantil– in Santo Domingo was as wonderful an experience as last year. It was more organized this time, with plenty of street and tourist police to keep traffic and crowds moving, and monitoring the movement of the parade.

Pre-parade in the parks

Members of last year's grand prize winning comparsa "Los Diablos de Grayumbo," from the Sánchez Ramírez province, getting ready. They won the #1 spot for creativity this year.

The Colonial City came alive starting around 2pm, with over over 50 comparsas and their members—aged from five  to 13 years—gathering in Parque Colon, Parque Duarte, and near Plaza Espana to get their costumes on and ready, get their bodies painted, and line up for the parade.

I started at Parque Duarte around 2pm, and from there worked my way to Parque Colon. That's really where the bulk of the fun is, whether you're a photographer or just a visitor — before things kick off and when the kids are pumped for their performance, and have time to pose for extra photos. There's music in the park, as they practice their routines to Ali-baba bands, dance for fun to the sound of Parque Colon's daily merengue musicians, or joke around with a group of clowns. All around good cheer and vibes on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the Colonial City.

Parade on Calle Las Damas

At around close to 3:30pm, the groups were lined down Calle El Conde to begin marching over to Calle Las Damas, and continued on down the parade route all the way to Plaza Espana, where they performed for the judges. You could walk down the sidewalk of Calle Las Damas to observe, watch it all from your hotel room balcony at Nicolas de Ovando for example, or simply enjoy from a distance from Plaza Espana's outdoor taverns.

I caught a few moments of the dance routines performed before the judges (competition is fierce as the winning groups get a cash prize of between 150,000 Dominican pesos to 25,000) but it's more fun to walk down Calle Las Damas and visit with the kids as they work their way down. They are super friendly, lively, and confident, in true Dominican spirit.

Check out this video recap:

I recognized several groups from last year, and my favorites this time were the Guloyitas from San Pedro de Macoris (successors to the UNESCO-protected Guloyas), los Diablos de Grayumbo from Sanchez Ramirez in their costumes made of dried leaves, and las Santeritas Llaneras in their all-white head wraps and dresses. It was hard to pick–so much cuteness and creativity.

And even though the main adult carnival parade on the Malecon (held on the following day) is popular as well, I find the children's one more inspiring–it's like seeing the future of the DR right before you, through the childrens' diversity, creativity, and unity across the provinces.


Here are some of my favorite photographs from the Children's Carnival Parade. Enjoy!




All photos are copyright protected and may not be used or reproduced in any form or shape without authorization. // Estas fotos no pueden ser reproducidas ni utilizadas en un medio comercial sin autorización. Para ponerse en contacto conmigo, favor de llenar el formulario aqui.

Lebawit Lily Girma

A former corporate attorney, Lebawit Lily Girma is an award-winning travel writer, photographer, and author of several Caribbean guidebooks for US-publisher Moon Travel Guides, including Moon Belize and Moon Dominican Republic. Originally from Ethiopia, Lily calls herself a “culture-holic”–fluent in four languages, she has lived in eight countries besides the U.S., including Belize, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. Her articles and photography focusing on culture, adventure, and sustainable travel in the Caribbean region have been published in AFAR Magazine, CNN, BBC, Delta Sky, The Guardian, and others. She is the recipient of the 2016 Marcia Vickery Wallace Award for Excellence in Travel Journalism from the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

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