carnival dominican republic, carnival, purple, big teeth, creepy

Fiesta Fiesta – Carnival Dominican Republic

Tis the season to Carnival!!! Currently in the Dominican Republic it’s Carnival season. Cities and towns all over the country celebrate every Sunday for the entire month of February with music, very elaborate (and not so elaborate) costumes, drinking, partying, eating and all that other stuff people in party mode do.

We happened to be very close to the most prized spot to watch Carnival in the Dominican Republic which is La Vega. We spent a few nights in an awesome Eco hostel while we were there and also got to see some epic costumes. We made sure to show up nice and early as this was the first time we’ve been to this event and didn’t want to miss out on anything. After a little walk around we found ourselves a spot and perched up on the balcony for a nice view outside of the crowds. At this point it started raining, but not for very long. After the rain finished I went on my journey with my camera while Jade saw the event from above.

sexy girl carnival dominican republic

When walking around Carnival make sure to watch your back and by back I mean ass….literally, watch it, like a HAWK. The reason behind this is because all of the participants have things that when directly translated form Spanish are called Balloons. They aren’t soft and cuddly like balloons though. They’re filled with different materials and they hit innocent passerbyers, sometimes at full force. If you have a camera you get a lot more respect and you’ll only get some light taps on your butt. Lose the camera though and these guys have no mercy. If you get hit, don’t take it personally, it’s all part of the fun, and they have a LOT of fun doing this. Below is what they look like as well as one of the innocent passerbyers I was talking about to get a little surprise. Look at his face to see how much power he’s putting into that swing.

watch your back carnival dominican republic

For my photography I knew this would be a very cool project. I wanted to give a different twist to the pictures I took because there have been 5 million carnivals and 20 million pictures have been taken (numbers retrieved from a study done by the University of Really Smart People). Soooo I switched it up a bit and took away the color from Carnival “GASP”. I know I know, a lot of you are probably saying “but Carnival is all about the color”! Well, I disagree!! =). Also, on the color note, you’ll see come color pictures accompanying the writing but below the Black and White line it will be very much desaturated.

mud men carnival dominican republic

These kids bathe themselves in mud and go around with a little bucket asking for money. Their tactic is to ask for money for soap to wash themselves off later…..clever little Tigeres.

When you take away the color from the amazingly awesome, handcrafted, locally made costumes you step into an entirely different world. All of a sudden things don’t look so colorful and plasticky. They take on an elegant look (some). Once the colors are gone you can’t tell that they glued Rhine stones all over the masks, instead they look like real crystals. Same goes for many of the different materials used on the masks.

The first two weeks of Carnival Dominican Republic are said to be the “warm up” while the last two weeks EVERYONE goes to party and people bring out their best attire. If you don’t like crowds, go early, you’ll still see a lot of cool stuff. If you love crowds, go during the last two weeks of the month of February.

If you want a little history behind what carnival really is, keep reading. If you just want to see some awesome pictures then scroll your little heart away =D.

What is Carnival?

Simply put, it’s a celebration! People spend days, weeks, months and years making their costumes better and more elaborate to have a full party before Lent arrives. During lent Catholics aren’t supposed to eat meat, party and do a handful of other things, so history tells it that they would have celebrations before they give these things a break from their lives. One theory behind where the name comes from are the words “carne vale” which means “farewell to meat”. There are a few theories as to exactly where the tradition first started but that’s all semantics, fact is that it’s an awesome event that brings thousands of people together and produces creative outlets for many. If that didn’t feel your learning needs you can go a little more in depth on the history of Carnival.


Welcome to the Black and White line, it’s beautiful isn’t it? Just a heads up so I don’t get any “they weren’t all black and white comments”, on some pictures I found that by adding a tiny tiny bit of color the depth of the picture increased greatly so you will see some shots with accents of color, enjoy =D.

big teeth carnival dominican republic
albino gorilla carnival dominican republic
big eyes carnival dominican republic
big smile carnival dominican republic
brains carnival dominican republic
coffin carnival dominican republic
crazy clown carnival dominican republic
crazy design carnival dominican republic
dancing carnival dominican republic
death stare carnival dominican republic
devil carnival dominican republic
devil mask carnival dominican republic
devil punch carnival dominican republic
Giant bug eyes carnival dominican republic
man on stilts carnival dominican republic
monkey men carnival dominican republic
nuns carnival dominican republic
pointy mask carnival dominican republic
posing carnival dominican republic
priest carnival dominican republic
scary clown carnival dominican republic
scary eye carnival dominican republic
scary smile carnival dominican republic
sharp teeth carnival dominican republic
tribal mask carnival dominican republic
tribes carnival dominican republic
white eyes carnival dominican republic
wrinkly man carnival dominican republic

OH, and I can’t believe that I almost forgot this last picture. Without it, all of the other pictures above just don’t make any sense.


Yes those are toothpicks in his hair =P. I got a good laugh out of this and hope you did as well! That’s it for Carnival Dominican Republic. If I manage to make it to another one somewhere else on the island I’ll put together a “Faces of Carnival” photo essay.

I want YOUR opinion!

What did you think about the black and white variations of Carnival?
Did it give you a different insight into the masks?
Does it look creepier, more artsy or anything else you may notice?

Thanks =D


  1. Hello Gabriel,

    Thanks for sharing a cultural insight of DR through your lens! What I understand through your link on the history of the carnival is that the masks represent ancient African traditions and that themes are selected for the costumes. Are the masks depicted frightful in tradition of warding off evil spirits or representative of a theme? What about the horns motif?

    Hope all is wonderful with you and loved ones!

    – Fond reader from NY

  2. Hey Rob, thanks for stopping by =D.

    From my understanding and research of carnival the masks signify various things. They are there to remove any prejudice towards social status or race as well as to mask the wearers identity so they can act as they wish. Sometimes they’re used to ward off evil spirits and other times they are used to contact higher spirits.

    There are many different reasons and origins as to what each style of mask means but really the whole origin and concrete definition is unknown. Seems like Carnival is a festival that evolved to let people be themselves without being judged, bring people of all races and social statuses together, as well as to stimulate and make a creative outlet for many people.

    Thanks for the kind words and same to you!

    -Peace, Love and Happiness
    Gabriel Harding recently posted…Culture Shock Series – Dominican TransportationMy Profile

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