I receive several messages on a daily basis with questions on where to stay, which party to attend, how do I get tickets, etc etc, which could be addressed if everyone did some research before hand. Attending a Caribbean carnival is not as seamless as picking a location, getting your hotel and hopping on a plane.
Please keep in mind that thousands of people are flooding one area for an event and so it is HIGHLY likely that in smaller places like Grenada or even Trinidad, hotels/guest houses will sell out in record time because they simply do not have enough space for everyone to sleep. Now unless you plan on sleeping on the beach or way further than you need to, these 10 carnival tips will be helpful.
- Plan EARLY! And by early I mean, EARLIER than you normally would. Have your budget in tact, and start putting money aside for this asap. The trick to carnivals, especially places like Trinidad, is having your money on hand. First Pay, first PLAY. So if your money is right, you can likely get to put a down payment on housing or be able to purchase your party ticket as soon as it comes out.
- Delegate responsibilities. Everyone on your team might not be as organized but some people can help manage something. Put one person on housing, another on top of transportation, another on top of party tickets. This way, it’s not all left on one person. No time to plan yourself? Hire a concierge service. Pro tip: Choose your carnival crew wisely.
- Get carnival allies. Now this has to be done strategically. You cannot just demand or immediately expect help from carnival veterans, but utilize social media to get tips and/or ask questions that will help you execute your carnival planning.
- Research. Research is SO useful in this case. Check out how much parties cost the year prior (the GlobalCarnivalist fete list can help with this), check flight prices/routes, check out the who, what, when and follow them on social media accounts. Figure out when bands typically launch, that way, yuh money ready. Want to attend a Scorch event? Then follow Scorch updates, you know, that sort of thing.
- Stay in your financial lane. While you might want to do everything and be everywhere, be mindful that carnival is not for the broke. A large scale carnival can cost you $800 for a costume and about $120usd per party. Either cut back on the amount of parties you plan to attend or attend a more cost effective carnival. Qapital (free) is an app I use to save money mindlessly.
- Work toward the fast track. Put a little something on your carnival costume every two weeks when you get paid or monthly. That way, you’re not burdened with a large lump sum come costume pick up day. Yuh playing frontline in Trinidad? Then this tip definitely applies to you. An extra $100 (if you have it to spare) every pay day on our costume will not only cut down on how much you owe, BUT you may be on the fast track for costume pickup AKA LESS WAITING TIME. (time is money)
- Exercise. Please please please! get your Stamina up. you will be going non-stop with little to no sleep. You’re going to need to manage your energy. Working out will help build your stamina, especially if you plan on playing mas, you will need it.
- Fall in love with Soca. Carnival and Soca are intertwined like a PB&J sandwich. You may or may not hear other genres but do not expect to hear rap/hip-hop or plenty dance hall. Carnival is soca heavy so get familiar months prior. The more songs you know, the more fun you will have. Utilize SocaBuzz for the latest soca mixes.
- Choose fetes & mas band wisely. There are PLENTY bands and parties to choose from, choose them well and be mindful of your schedule. Back to back fetes means less sleep. Purchase all your necessities for mas before hand. The GlobalCarnivalist checklist can help with that.
- No Drama. Lastly, Be open-minded. To new people, new food, new experiences. Most importantly, do not judge. Carnival is a judge-free zone. Yuh go see people legs on somebody back — trust me, they have their shit in order. Relax and enjoy the carnival.
Are there tips I missed? Put them in the comments below.