How Martinique Celebrates Carnivale

Martinique may be tiny, but its people sure know how to party.

This Caribbean island is one of 18 regions of France outside the mainland, with most citizens speaking both French and Créole Martiniquais. It became a French territory in the mid-1600s, and was used primarily (by the French colonizers) as a dumping ground for religious traitors and as a collection of sugar cane plantations. Martinique wasn’t officially a part of France, however, until 1946. But centuries of French culture, language, and Catholicism have transformed the island into a fascinating melange of dialects and traditions. Because in any country where indigenous people have been oppressed and enslaved, new and rich flowers will inevitably grow out of reclaimed soil.

In this video by photographer Shelby Knick, you can see how Martiniquais people show up for Carnivale, once a French Catholic holiday marking the week before Lent, and now a glittering, feather-encrusted region holiday that would put New Orleans to shame.