A fresh carnival season is upon us! Below you will find answers to a hefty list of carnival-related questions that have been asked over the years.  I have done my best to provide you with informed responses based on my experiences as a carnival veteran. I’ve plugged some of my friends and their businesses in this post as well so please be sure to check them out; you won’t be disappointed. If you have any questions that are not on the list, feel free to comment and I’ll be sure to get back to you. Cheers to all the carnival virgins…Ready, set, read!

PLANNING AHEAD

How early should I arrive before carnival day?

  • Most people like to arrive at least 5 days prior to the actual parade. Many of the popular events will take place during what is known as the core weekend. If your pockets allow, feel free to arrive earlier to attend other staple events.

Where should I book lodging?

  • The goal should be to stay as close to the action as possible. If you are unsuccessful, look for locations directly on the outskirts of the main town/parish near the events. Here are some ideal locations in these countries I’ve visited:

    • Barbados – Anywhere in or near St. Lawrence Gap

    • Grenada – Grand Anse Beach area

    • Guyana – Georgetown
    • Jamaica – New Kingston

    • St. Lucia – Gros Islet

    • Trinidad – Woodbrook, Port of Spain

Are hotels better than private rentals?

  • Not necessarily. If you want to do less work and have access to consistent resources, then hotels may be right for you. Just be sure to inquire about hotel policies prior to booking as there may be limitations to what you can and cannot do on hotel premises.

  • Private rentals allow for a more home-like feel but this comes with additional responsibility. If you are travelling with a large group, private rentals are a good way to go.

How do I get around in a foreign country?

  • There are numerous options. You can hire a reliable driver prior to your trip, hail a maxi cab as needed, car pool with friends/associates nearby or take public transportation if available. Depending on your level of comfort you, may also rent a car (not recommended in Trinidad).

How do I communicate with friends and family while traveling overseas?

  • WhatsApp seems to be the most popular way to communicate nowadays. For this, you will need cellular data or Wi-Fi.

  • Many providers now offer free global roaming. Call your service provider to inquire. Sprint allows free texting and 2G data while traveling internationally. Works like a charm for me!

  • If you have a GSM service provider you can simply purchase a chip and a temporary plan upon arrival and use it to text and make calls.

PARTY BASICS

What is a lime?

  • A lime is an unofficial gathering of individuals with a common purpose of enjoying music, drinking, eating and basking in each others company.

What is a fete?A fete is simply an official party. There are different kinds of fetes in the carnival world. Here are some:

  • Wet Fete: A party where guests are sprayed with water throughout the party.
  • Foam Fete: A party where guests dance in large amounts of foam.
  • Powder Fete: A party where guests throw colored powder on one other.
  • Breakfast Fete: A party held early in the morning and provides breakfast to guests.
  • Cooler Fete: A party where guests are allowed to bring their own coolers filled with drinks of their choice. Glass bottles are usually not permitted.
  • Boat Ride: A party on water!

What’s the difference between “All Inclusive,” “Food Inclusive” and “Drinks Inclusive?”

  • All Inclusive Fetes: Parties where guests are able to partake in food and beverages without any additional costs.
  • Drinks Inclusive Fetes: Parties where guests are only able to partake in drinks without additional costs. Food can be purchased if available.
  • Food Inclusive Fetes: Parties where guests are only able to partake in food without additional costs. Drinks may be purchased at the bar.

Is there any time to sleep between fetes and carnival action?

  • How much sleep you get depends on the schedule YOU create. If you want the full experience, then sleep does not exist. Think “power-naps.”
  • If you don’t plan on having a jam packed schedule then, sleeping is possible. It’s all up to you.

PURCHASING FETE TICKETS

How do I purchase fete tickets overseas?

  • Some fete tickets can be purchased online; however, depending on the promoter, this may be a challenging task.
  • Many individuals seek the help of friends who live on the island to purchase or reserve hard copy tickets in advance. Hard copy tickets are generally less expensive and allow ticket holders to enter the event quicker.
  • Some people seek the help of concierge companies obtain fete tickets for them. These services come with associated fees.

Some ticket sites ask me to select a committee member? Why do I need to know someone? What do I do if I don’t know anyone?

  • This is an ever growing trend. Promoters have instilled this feature to get a stronger grip on who attends the fete. According to some, the motive behind the process is to ensure that “troublemakers” do not spoil the event.
  • If you don’t know any committee members, simply select at random. If you are a female I recommend selecting a male…and vice versa.

Can I purchase tickets when I arrive?

  • Depends on the fete. I recommend walking with cash if you’re going to take a chance at the door. You should certainly expect to pay more than the original cost of the event.

ROAD BASICS

What is Jouvert?

  • Jouvert is a lively parade held early in the morning where participants get “dutty” on the road with paint, powder, mudd, chocolate, water and oil in some cases. Participants follow big trucks and dance to music as they get drenched in the elements.

What is a mas band? Do I have to be a professional dancer or play an instrument?

  • A mas or masquerade band is a group that participates in the parade with the objective of winning, “Band of the Year.” These groups are responsible for providing costumes, drinks and other services for clients while on the road.
  • Each mas band presents a variety of costumes. These costume variations are known as “sections”.
  • Anyone can sign up to join a mas band as long as there is space available. No dance or prior experience necessary.

What is a band launch?

  • A band launch is a fete miked with a fashion show. It’s the bands debut of carnival costumes for the season.

How do I join a band?

  • Register at the band launch: Normally, at the end of the band launch participants have the opportunity to register for the section of their choosing if space is available.
  • Register Online: Most mas bands have individual websites which allow you to register online. Many require an up front deposit to secure your costume.
  • Register via Committee Member: If you know a committee member associated with the band you may be able to register under them before general admission opens.

How do I pick a costume?

  • Picking a costume can be difficult if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It is recommended that you consider style, comfort and cost. Think about what is most important to you and go from there.

What’s the difference between, “backline” and “frontline?”

  • Backline costumes are the simpler versions of a design. They are generally less expensive and more “dancer –friendly.”
  • Frontline costumes are exclusive costumes with a “wow-factor.” Front line packages may come with additional perks and services such as photo shoots, make up sessions or VIP seating.

What’s included with my costume package?

  • Packages vary by organization. Generally speaking, packages include the costume, drinks on the road and wristbands for the parade. There is often a goodie bag filled with snacks, a mug, rag and other fun treats.

What is Monday wear and where can I get it?

  • Monday wear are outfits worn on the casual parade day either the day before or after “pretty mas”. This is an opportunity for participants to get creative and flaunt their stuff. Some people go all out while others keep it simple.
  • You may create your own Monday wear or enlist the talents of a costume designer. You’re welcome to place an order through T’ingz Nice Designs but I also encourage you to check out my friends at below!

Shop Evolve – evolvebycrys@gmail.comAhsek Designs – ahsekdesigns@gmail.comChez Zen Mas – chez.zen@hotmail.comDIY Tools of the TradeDIY Simple Tiara 

PREPARATION

Where can I get my face beat for carnival?There are MUAs in every country! My top recommendation is to search Instagram for MUAs, look at the portfolio on their feed and reach out to a few whose work catches your attention.

  • JevoisCouleur: Based in Trinidad –  jevoiscouleur@gmail.com
  • Kiss and Make-Up: Based in St. Lucia kissandmakeupslu@gmail.com

Where can I go to get carnival boots designed?

Where can I go to listen to the latest Caribbean music?

  • Soundcloud – Follow popular Caribbean DJ’s like Dei Musicale, DJ Private Ryan, Dj Puffy etc.
  • Team Soca – Where Soca Music Lives
  • Spotify – Conduct a search for playlists “Soca 202_”
  • YouTube – Be sure to follow Julians Promotions

Where can I go to get fit for carnival and vibe to Caribbean music in the process?