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Carnival in the Caribbean: Here’s What to Expect and How to Get Ready

by Carolyn Lee Feb 15, 2024

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Carnival in the Caribbean: Here’s What to Expect and How to Get Ready
Photo credit: John de la Bastide/Shutterstock.

Carnival in the Caribbean is always a time of revelry. Many countries host spectacular events, attracting locals and tourists who join in the fun, celebrating an essential part of Caribbean culture. Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival is known as the “Mother of Carnival” and features culture, tradition, religion, and folklore.

Across the region, countries celebrating carnival host a series of events, including fetes, parties, J’ouvert, and band parades (Mas). Carnival offers fun, memorable, and highly enjoyable activities, and we are sharing what you can expect during the carnival season.

You’ll dance and have the best time at the fetes.

During the season, countless parties and fetes lead to J’ouvert and the band parades. These events allow partygoers to see legendary and new performers hit the stage to show off their lyrical prowess with new songs and many old favourites. Be prepared for high-energy performances and a lot of action in the crowd.

You can get in shape at boot camps.

Hardcore festival fans understand that participating in carnival festivities requires lots of stamina. Some people will hit their gym to get in shape; others will join a boot camp. Most bands host fitness boot camps leading up to significant events. If you wish to participate, be prepared for activities including aerobics, choreographed dances, and lots of jumping.

There are lots of parties and fetes.

Exclusive parties and fetes are a staple during carnival season. If it’s your first time attending a soca party, be prepared for huge crowds, loud music, and an overall party atmosphere. A soca fete is not the place to stand around and scroll through your phone. You could unexpectedly get swept up in the pandemonium, so stay in the moment. If you sign up to ‘play’ mas with a band, they will provide you with a schedule of the fetes they are hosting. The prices for tickets to many of these events vary.

You will have access to endless beverages.

All the carnival events will have alcohol. You will be full of options, from beers to rum and cocktails. Some organisers will include it in the overall cost for events like J’ouvert, Carnival Monday and Tuesday and other themed parties. It is easy to get carried away, so remember to drink responsibly and have a designated driver.

You won’t regret waking up early for J’ouvert.

J’ouvert is a significant event that precedes Carnival Monday. Participants are on the street during the early morning hours, prancing about to the sweet sounds of music from a live band. One of the things that makes this event a lot of fun is that it involves the use of paint, powder, mud and, in some cases, oil. The outfit for women is usually shorts, a tank top or a t-shirt, with men wearing shorts, tanks, or t-shirts with comfortable footwear. Most bands include these outfits in the cost for J’ouvert.

You will love the display of spectacular outfits and costumes.

In Trinidad and Tobago, Carnival Monday allows revellers to wear an alternative to the spectacular costumes. These outfits are usually comfortable, sexy, and flexible to move in. Carnival Tuesday culminates the season, and what a massive party the carnival parade is!

Wherever you celebrate carnival in the Caribbean, the band parade is the most spectacular event with a vibrant display of colours. When you sign up with a band, you get access to refreshments, food, live performances, and music that makes you stop and dance in the streets. You can expect a lot of fit bodies in stunning carnival costumes. Most places have designated areas along the band route where non-participants can watch the revellers and enjoy the festivities.

Are you excited about this carnival season?

We hope you’ll check out some of the events and experience a part of Caribbean culture that’s always a great time for everyone.

Sources: Carnivaland, Trip Savvy, Suite Life Yachting, itzcaribbean.com, and Islands­­­.