In 2015, when Jamaica Carnival had only one band, I called it. There were several reasons why any carnival chaser/virgin should attend Jamaica Carnival but now it is certainly a staple. I even know some folks who skip the mecca carnival, Trinidad Carnival, all together and venture to Jamaica. Jamaica is not only affordable, the carnival have vibes [and some really great fetes].
In 2017, we saw the introduction of two new bands, Xaymaca International and Xodus, and the re-vamp of an old band, Jamaica Carnival.
Unlike years prior, the bands will be launching much earlier in the season, hence why this article is being written, earlier than usual. Xaymaca International plans to launch their 2018 presentation, Luxe on November 11.
Jamaica Carnival 2018 events are on the following dates: March 31 – April 8, 2018. The parade will take place on April 8.
WHERE TO PARTY
Jamaica Carnival offers most of the popular parties we’ve come to love from other carnivals. Scorch, Caesar’s Army, Candy Coated, and Roast are some staple promoters that will be there during carnival week. At a budget of around $1500 – $2000 USD, you can fete to your hearts desire then go home.
Based on our experience, this is a list of the best carnival fetes in Jamaica. This may change from year to year as some new fetes come on the scene and some previous contenders lose their sauce. Please check the 2018 Jamaica Carnival Fete List
- I Love Soca Fete
- Friday Night Blocko
- Caesar’s Army AMBush
- Sunrise Breakfast Party
- Bazodee Frenchmen Fete
WHERE TO GET COSTUMES
With several bands to choose from, masqueraders now have options. Amenities, costume quality, vibes and customer service should all play a major role in the band you select. Backline costumes can cost you about $300-$400usd, while a frontline costume can cost you about $500-$1000usd, depending on the band of your choice. For a veteran like me, it’s more than the costume, amenities are a BIG DEAL! Don’t you want your lunch stop to be in A/C? What about a vanity tent for your makeup? That’s Xaymaca International. Check out my review from 2017 and why I’d play mas with them again in 2018. Your band options are
WHERE TO STAY
Most of the reputable hotels are in a section of Kingston called New Kingston. Some hotels to check out are, Spanish Court, The Jamaica Pegasus and Courtleigh, located about 5 minutes away from the old Bacchanal Jamaica Mas Camp. AirBnB is also an option for apartment rentals if a hotel reservation will not fit your needs.
Be mindful of the neighborhoods you might stay in and walking outside at night – Kingston can be dangerous. I highly recommend using notable taxi services and/or hired drivers for your transportation to and from parties. Some reputable taxi services are Mortec, City Guide, Express, El Shaddai and On Time. Check NetSearch Jamaica for contact information.
It’s time to start planning! Don’t feel like planning on your own? Nomadic Escapes can help. Email them for great carnival packages at firstname.lastname@example.org. Is there anything else you want to know? Ask me in the comments below.
Yours in Mas