Batabano Carnival Scheduled for April 25-26 in George Town

Reed Travel Features

GEORGE TOWN -- The 14th annual Batabano, the colorful Carnival celebration marked by parades, masqueraders and music in downtown George Town, is set for April 25 and 26.

Festivities begin on Friday night with a traditional street dance at 7 p.m., followed by the appearance of contestants vying for the title of Carnival King and Queen.

Masquerade trophies are presented at 8:30 p.m.

The Batabano parade at 4:30 p.m. the next day brings together costumed troupes that wend their way from Thomas Russell Way along the harbor and Fort Street in George Town.

The Grand Finale street dance features a bar and a variety of booths serving local dishes.

Visitors are welcome as participants and spectators.

Other events to pencil in on vacation calendars include:

* Earth Day Celebrations, April 19. The Cayman Islands' Deptartment of the Environment will conduct a Reef Watch survey to mark this year's designation as the International Year of the Reef.

Every diver (visiting and resident) will be invited to complete a questionnaire detailing observations and perceptions on the health of the reefs in the Cayman Islands.

The information will help supplement the department's coral reef monitoring and tracking programs.

* Discovery Day, May 19, a public holiday. This commemorates the day in 1503 when Christopher Columbus first spotted the Cayman Islands.

His son Ferdinand noted in his diary "two very small and low islands full of tortoise as was the sea about, insomuch that they looked like rocks."

It was for this reason that the Cayman Islands were originally named Las Tortugas (The Turtles).

Obviously, the original name did not stick and, after briefly being called Lagarotos, the name Caymanas was used.

Caymanas is a derivative of the Carib Indian word for crocodile.

* Queen's Birthday Observance and Parade, June 17.

* The ninth annual Taste of Cayman All You Can Sample Food Festival on Grand Cayman, July 5.

* The 10th annual Taste of Cayman golf tournament at the Links of Safe Haven Golf Course, July 6

* The Annual Chili Cookoff, July 7.

* The fourth annual Cayman Madness dive promotion begins Aug. 28.

The 21st annual Pirate's Week festival is launched on Oct. 24, a weeklong swashbucklin' event that features costumed pirates on the streets, in the shops and restaurants all over Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Many activities that week are free of charge.

For information on packages that are tied into these events, call the Cayman Islands Deptartment of Tourism at (800) G-CAYMAN. For general information, call (800) 346-3313.

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