Historians say they believe the first "modern" Caribbean Carnival originated in Trinidad and Tobago in the late 18th century when a flood of French settlers brought the Fat Tuesday masquerade party tradition with them to the island, although Fat Tuesday celebrations were almost certainly taking place at least a century before that.
By the beginning of the 18th century, there were already a large number of free blacks in Trinidad mixed with French immigrants, earlier Spanish settlers, and British nationals (the island came under British control in 1797). This resulted in Carnival's transformation from an implanted European celebration to a more heterogeneous cultural froth that includes traditions from all ethnic groups contributing to the celebration. With the end of slavery in 1834, the now completely free populace could outwardly celebrate their native culture and their emancipation through dress, music, and dancing.
These three elements—dressing in masquerade, music, and dancing—remain central to Carnival celebrations. It happens at elaborate balls (the European tradition) and in the streets (the African tradition), with costumes, masks, feathers, headdresses, dancing, music, steel bands, and drums all part of the scene, along with raucous behavior