Jamaica Carnival 2019: Best Fetes, Band Reviews and More

The time has come for us to reflect on the amazing time we had in Jamaica for Carnival in 2019. While I, personally could not make it, some masqueraders shared their feedback with me.

Disclaimer: Masquerader photographs enclosed are not reflective of reviews

From what I read, some fetes were amazing while others needed improvement and while there were some costume and communication issues with carnival bands, the road was a blast. So let’s talk about the fetes first…

The Fetes: 

I Love Soca Jamaica 

I Love Soca was the BEST party I went to they,  NEVER fail me. I had an awesome time!

Amazing as I thought it would be. I love the addition of the light up cups, and the overall upgraded decor.

I mean it’s I love soca,  the venue was organized way better this year. I really can’t enjoy it but it’s something to do on carnival Wednesday.

Afloat Barge Party 

There was food and a bar on land prior to boarding, and the door being closed. But once we were on the barge and the door closed was when the foolery began. It was definitely overcrowded. Same songs being played over, and over, and over again. Getting drinks was a 10 to 15 minute process. If it’s on a barge next year, I’ll definitely pass.

Hands down the best fete for this year. They literally had us on a barge in Kingston Harbour. The vibes was on another level. If you can get tickets,  it’s a MUST next year.

Black 2 Blue

It took a little while for the vibes to build, but when it reach, it reach! The whole crowd was lit AF and it stayed that way until the end. Another must do for me next year.

Soca Brainwash 

SBW was a BLAST!

SBW was the usual vibe. The usual djs. Nothing special to report, my crew and I had a great time. Oh, and Private Ryan and his team need to stop playing Jamaica, and give us armbands. They didn’t give out armbands last year either…🤨

The event was supposed to start at 1PM, but when the driver dropped us off at 2:30PM, the people at the gate said they weren’t done setting up. Ended up waiting about an hour before they were ready to go. Beside that hiccup, everything else was great. Drinks flowed, (started drinking johnny on the rocks cause they ran out of ginger ale but no biggie) DJ lineup was good, the food trucks had good food, decorations were cute. Ended up missing Duck Work because we lost track of time but it was worth it.

Caesar’s Army Ambush 

Let me just start off by saying the most import thing… Caesar’s Army SUCKED!!! Worst one I’ve been to! I almost got trampled trying to enter the small gate of an entrance they had for hundreds of people to enter..I spent most of the time hiking through bushes.. they ran out of cups.. we had to go on one side to let the trucks go by just completely trash overall!

They sent out an apology email. I don’t even want to talk about that. From the hunger games of getting approved,  it just wasn’t the same. Towards the end was fun but again last year was way better.

Hands down the worst  party I have been to in years. First of all the entire party was an accident ready  to happen. How the hell did they decide to use that space as the main entrance? Then if you state the party starts at 2AM ,  gates should be open at 2 not 3:30AM. No cups,  my friend was drinking out of a water bottle. The road was so narrow you we literally fighting for space. There was 1 music truck for about 3-4hrs of the party. Vibes was so low. At one point it felt like the team gave up,  they seemed so overwhelmed. It was just a mess and it’s a NEVER do again for me. I won’t be in nobodies bush.

Compared to all the other ambush events I’ve attended in the past, this one was hot garbage. I don’t know what to start with, as so much went wrong. The ridiculous entrance process, them running out of cups, only having one music truck for 70% of the time, and all the damn stormers made for a miserable time.I stayed in front of the one working music truck as I couldn’t deal with the massive amounts of people crowding behind it, and i could barely hear the music as the security guards (rightfully so) made us stay a distance in front. At one point, quite a few people were standing around talking and sitting in the grass on their phones. I’ve never seen something like that at ambush. They need to come correct next year if they come back to Jamaica.

Ehhh it was ok. There was a tent serving coffee and another distributing cups. Got to the front of the line and the last states that I could only have a cup if I got a Heineken, if not, I would have to wait until they opened the entrance. Weird but okay whatever. I feel like we waited for a long time before they actually started letting people into the entrance and then it was a stampede of people trying to get in. Once inside, we passed 2 drink trucks. The ledges to reach them were sooo high. Ended up not drinking as much cause it was so much of a hassle plus they ran out of ginger ale so fast! I think a quarter of the way down is when paint was distributed. We decided to stay with the first truck but also felt like we were hurrying to keep up. Powder wasn’t distributed until we were more than half way back to the starting point, at that point I was done and didn’t care. They said there was a shuttle dropping people back to the starting point but I never saw it so that walk back felt like the longest thing ever.

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Sunrise Breakfast Party 

Sunrise.. the sun was disrespectful AF. It was oppressive. Sunrise provided us with parasols which was good but the sun continued to be disrespectful. There was no break in sight because it was a breakfast party. I was too sun whooped to even pay attention to the performances. Food and drinks drinks were great.

A cute vibe, just hot as what I imagine hell fire will feel like. Plenty of drinks and great food options.  The only downside was that they ran out of cups. Did they not know how many of us would be there based on ticket sales?….smh

Sunrise- I mean can you really do carnival in Jamaica and not go to Sunrise Breakfast Party? But that sun really killed my vibe. That party really need a venue with trees.

Pre-Mas Fete 

PM fete.. women were practically naked, which made it good. You can tell folks were tired at PM fete due to Ambush and Sunrise.

I had no expectations for PM fete as I, nor anyone I knew attended in it’s launch year. But it is definitely a bess fete now in my opinion. I got my whole life. From I walked in to the minute I left it was pure sweet vibes. The djs & mic men were stellar. The attention to details were also impressive. I loved the photographer at the entrance taking pictures of everyone, not waiting over a minute at the bar, the food options for purchase, and the clean restrooms all night. Must do for me next year.

Sooooo many ladies went all out with the risqué theme and I loved it. The DJ lineup was good, the little freshen up gazebo area by the ladies bathroom was a nice addition. Shuttle to/from the main entrance to the event was nice as well. Overall good fete.

Xaymaca Beach Lyme 

Fire from the minute I walked in. I had a absolute blast. I didn’t think they could top 2018, but 2019 blew the 2019 version out of the water. Then Riggo Suave took over, he and his constant talking was my cue to leave just like last year.

Xaymaca Beach Lyme was besssss. Ding Dong, Teddyson John and others performed. Bounty Killa and Skinny Fabulous duo performance was hype. BEST final fete before flying out the next day.

Jamaica Carnival 2019 SPICE

The Road 

Xodus Carnival: 

I played with Xodus. As soon as the parade started. There were multiple locals on motorcycles riding in between the masqueraders. Not only was it scary but they were loud and you couldn’t hear the music very well. Later on during the parade, the locals kept jumping inside of the band. We don’t pay to play with non- Masqueraders. Security tried but they kept coming back.

At the end when we got to the entrance, the locals were pushing and shoving us like crazy to get inside of the park. I will say that the security at the gate was good about not letting them in. It was just about getting to them to avoid being pushed on your face.

Personally, I can’t speak for the fetes because I just like to play mas. I did attend the Xamayca cool down beach fete and it had all the vibes. I would never do carnival in Jamaica again because the locals spoiled the road experience for me. My sister got pick-pocketed in the line waiting for dinner but I guess I should credit them for turning in her ID and credit card. The locals are aggressive. I can’t party and worry about gripping my purse that tight every where I go.
The bands can do better with communicating with their revellers though. I followed both Xodus and Xamayca and read the comments under some of their posts and the communication needs work. A piece of my costume was missing and it was never relayed to me. When I went to pick it up, they said the shipment won’t make it. That information should have been emailed. One simple thing has the ability throw off your entire look. I don’t mind a little reggae on the road but it was more than I needed. Give me more sweet soca and calypso.

Also! I can’t stress enough. Please be careful with AirBnB here. The pictures don’t seem to add up to what they look like in person. I see a few folks had this issue.

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Xaymaca Carnival: 

I’ll start by saying this year was a bit different from last year. I played with Xaymaca in the Prima Donna Frontline. We get there and they tell us our backpacks weren’t there and we could pick them up later. Luckily for me and my friend, we got the last two backpacks. Now before we could leave 4 of my feathers came off and the shoulder piece came off of my friend’s costume. Going back to the backpacks not being available. People had Ambush to pick up and other fetes to go to. The inconvenience that was caused was ridiculous. This year wasn’t as seamless as 2018.

Bacchanal Jamaica: 

I played in the Cleopatra section…

Communication: hit or miss .. they left my messages on read all the time, advertised items that they didn’t follow through with and their workers blatantly lied to me several times. I went to mas camp Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the hopes to pickup my backpack, which was poorly constructed and falling apart upon the staff handing it to me on Sunday morning of road march.. pieces were falling off my body wear upon receiving it.. I had burns and cuts from the material used in costumes .. a staff member told me the design of my costume section was so detailed and hard to execute for their production team, that’s why pickup was so late… road march had the same 20 songs to include ‘fling’ being the only Jamaican song being on repeat… food was barely warm & liquor got cut off.. management was outdated, unorganized and had no care for patrons who were not in their personal friends group… pricing does not match the quality… anyone saying that Bacchanal has amazing quality has no way played mas with any high quality mas bands….. I would never recommend anyone play mas with Bacchanal Jamaica & I will never be on the road with them.

Jamaica Carnival 2019

Xaymaca Carnival: 

Loved it, Xaymca is catching up to Tribe Status. I like the mixture of reggae and Soca as per Jamaica. Although I wasn’t on that truck for too long. Shorts could be better for men. No zipper pockets. Cheap material. Same one island shorts lol smh. Drinks truck was not packed, so it was easy to get liquor. Bad part was no Ciroc for those that like it. Johnnie Black label is good. They need to stop serving Johnnie red.

Xodus Carnival: 

So..I played with Xodus. Collections time was breeze. Costume looked beautiful. Goodie bag filled with goodies. Remember the beautiful costumes, yea… gems fell off and leg pieces broke before the road. Music had to be turned down when passing by a church due to service. Songs that were played: Savannah Grass, Famalay, Ding dong (shoulder fling, lehbelehbeh, gas) Party lit and repeat. Lunch.. they ran out vegetarian food while 30 people with vegetarian bands waited in line, including me. As usual, dancing/ chipping with big feathers wasn’t practical.

Photographers took pics of mostly light skin, slim women..So it confirmed that colorism exists in Jamaica carnival also. Just look at the pics on Xodus and Xamayca IG page. They all look the same. They don’t represent the majority of the band. The roads weren’t completely closed for the day. Some folks in Jamaica are still not completely on board with the entire carnival thing. There were several looks of disdain.

Xaymaca Lunch
Xaymaca Lunch

Xaymaca Carnival:

Mas band- I have a concierge business and when first timers ask me what band to play with I always recommend Xaymaca. Some take my advice some don’t which is fine.

First day of pick up, I picked up 15 costumes and I was out of the band house in 23 minutes. I was so shocked by this. Every employee at the mas band was pleasant and willing to help. The building was a little hot so I suggest some fans for next year. And maybe have a vendor selling refreshments onsite.

Road Experience- I got on the road like around 11AM,  just before lunch and can I tell you it was vibes nonstop. Plenty trucks and getting drinks was seamless. I love the new lunch stop, it has a lot of space.

The food Lines were a bit confusing so the lines were long. The food was adequate. Recommendation is to have the food packaged before the masquerades get to the stop.

We went back on the road after 45mins -1hr and it was vibes,  my friends and I just let go and had a time. The route was perfect I was so happy about it.

Xaymaca really need to screen their security personnel or give specific instructions because anybody could get on top of the trucks at some point I looked up I felt unsafe for them either the roof would collapse or the street cables would hurt someone.

In closing, Fetes in Jamaica was my thing I rarely enjoy the road in Jamaica. The fetes failed me big time this year and Xaymaca changed my stance on road experience in Jamaica. Xaymaca I give you a 10/10.

Afloat you were definitely the best fete if I can buy my ticket as soon as they go on sale I am definitely there next year.

Xaymaca Carnival: 

Costume pickup: Was very fast. You get a number, get your receipt and collect your costume. I was in Mendoza, the designer was there distributing the costumes, helping people try it on and making any necessary adjustments. I was very happy with the costume pickup.

Carnival Sunday: The breakfast was saltfish fritters, hot watermelon and bananas, and porridge. The road was nice when it was early and very few masqueraders were on the road. They had a lot of liquor and water which was needed because it was a VERY hot day. The lunch stop was very organized; they had a lot of tents and chairs for all masqueraders. The food was AWFUL for vegetarians and pescatarians.

I literally got little pieces of fish and what seemed to be some kind of provision cut in half. Vegetarians just had a box with a little bit of vegetables in it. After lunch the BAND WAS FULL. The drinks trucks ran out of Hennessy, and water! Also, it was the same eight soca songs ALLLLL day long. It was: famalay, savannah grass, issa snack, hookin meh, practice to name a few. Overall, Xaymaca was OKAY but I DEFINITELY won’t be playing with them next year which sucks because I love the designer for my section.

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Xodus Carnival: 

The road with Xodus was nice, I felt like this year they didn’t have as much amenities as the last. They ran out of vegetarian food so we had to get fish (which taste like it had been left out for too long) OVERALL had a good time on the road.

Xaymaca Carnival:

Costumes: I was in love with several sections from band launch. In my personal opinion there was a costume design to fit everyone’s taste and body shape. Queen of The Nile, Prima Donna, Psychedelic, Dance-hall queen, and Aphrodites were my top 5, and in the end I chose Queen of The Nile. It was absolutely gorgeous on the road.

Registration: Super easy. I was done in 5 minutes.

Communication: Piss poor, bottom of the barrel, a joke. This area needs major work for the 2020 season.

Customer service: Xaymaca completely forgot about this for 2019. Their customer service was horrid. The amazing customer service I experienced in 2018, was night and day compared to the awfulness of 2019.

Distribution: Based on what I read on social media, the first few days were great. Several people reported they only spent 15 to 30 minutes at pick up. Then it fell into the trash can on Friday. First they changed the pickup times to be convenient to their damn selves cause they knew they didn’t have a lot of things ready. Then my backpack, nor my friends backpack were made as yet. We were told to come back on Saturday to pickup our backpacks. How do you not have the things I paid you for, on the day you told me to come and pick it up?

Road: They redeemed themselves big time on the road. It was VIBES! PURE NICENESS! I honestly didn’t want it to end.

Lunch stop: The people who were lucky enough to get food, were fed what looked like scraps. Then to add insult to injury, they also ran out of food.

I also saw several people from other bands inside the lunch stop. Hell, even my friend who was in no band, and had no arm band was inside the lunch stop.

These people then had a costume fixing station and when I went over to it, no one working there. KMT

Overall I give Xaymaca 2019 a 6/10.

If you would like to include your experience, please include it in the comments!
Jamaica Carnival will take place on April 19, 2020!

Yours in Mas, 

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Carnival from a masquerader perspective - Where to fete? Band reviews? What to wear? I got you!

2 thoughts on “Jamaica Carnival 2019: Best Fetes, Band Reviews and More

  1. I feel soooo sorry for all the persons who had bad experiences especially the ones who played mas with Xaymaca cuz my experience was great definitely 9/10.

    It sucks that the customer service experience was so inconsistent from person to person, my experience was definitely another 9/10. Especially when I went to pick up my costume, it was quick and easy took less than 10 mins, then I got help to try on my costume and the lady hyped me up and made me feel soooo great about my body and how I would look on the road (I was worried and self conscious cuz I hadn’t lost enough weight).

    The only downside I had was that the main gem to cover my pums fell off before I went on the road and I didn’t get the lunch I wanted (chicken) I ended up with fish but it was great and my belly was FULL!! Dinner was great as well I ate a whole heap and was able to sober tf up. The road was AMAZING nuff vibes nuff rum nuff niceness.

    I would like to say though for persons complaining about hearing Reggae and Dancehall you guys are ridiculous Carnival in Jamaica isn’t Trinidad Carnival Jr. Carnival in Jamaica is its own spin on the Carnival experience and they should be free to and expected to play the music that comes from their island.
    Do you complain when you go Barbados and they play Bim Music???? or when St. Lucia play Dennery Segment???? are foreigners allowed to complain when they are in Trinidad and Soca Chutney start play???? You can’t come to Jamaica and demand that music from all the other Caribbean islands are played except Jamaican music 😒😒😒

  2. Having been my first international carnival, Carnival in JA 2019 was a nice experience but I know in my heart of hearts it wasn’t the bess!

    +TRIBE – I wont attend anymore.. they are all the same and the bess part of it was the Soup!
    +AFLOAT – Don’t need to do again. Was mad stush for a cool 1-2 hours… then it became extremely crowded and had vibes for the last 1.5 hours. It felt really long. Took way to long to dock back, a fight broke out, food was minimal served on dessert plates *side eye*… don’t need to do this one again.
    +HOOKIE – skipped it for my bed *shoulder shrug* but my friends said they could have missed it and “it wasn’t fun for me”
    +AMBUSH – now the entrance, yes… a mess. Cups distributed in the pitch black dark section of entrance. BUT my friends and I ended up having a time regardless of all the little quirks the fete had. There were 2 music trucks, 2 drink trucks, and an extremely narrow road. Trying to find a bathroom truck which was way at the back was a joke… so releasing in de bush definitely happened FOR MOST. The open field that we randomly passed was greatly welcomed because the road was certainly narrow and I don’t know how many scratches and such we got passing on the side… too many to count. Paint came fairly early, powder showed up at the end when it was time to “wet it up” under the hose… this delay sucked but we made the most of the fete due to me being tall and having no issues of getting drinks (for everybody) LOL. The end was extremely sad having the police literally shut everything down 5 mins after we got back at the start. The food lines had confusion as to what was the entrance, exit… it certainly could’ve been better.
    SUITS – It was cool…..not the most memorable… & that’s all I have to say about that.
    +XODUS ROAD: Vibes on Vibes. We reached our band right before lunch so we got to see the 2 other bands pass us and the size AND vibes were weak… once xodus came thru the energy just shifted and you could tell the people were ready for pure wotlessness! ENVY section was A1. The road after lunch was big fun. At the end the motorcyclists and stormers was wack as hell but they also added that “jamaica vibe” with them dancing in the streets that kind of made it unique. I guess it all depends on your perspective but what i CAN say is… I saw plenty of Xaymaca revellers over on the Xodus route getting their life soooo………..
    +XAYMACA BEACH FETE – BESS FETE OF THE WEEKEND! I’d do it every weekend.

    Would I do Carnival in Jamaica again? Not before I check out others to compare… I’m glad I did it, but I’m not in a rush to double up and go again within the next 5-7 years…

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