Bermuda is an archipelago consisting of 181 islands just northwest of North Carolina. Despite not being geographically in the Caribbean, some aspects of Bermudian culture align and many enjoy soca and dancehall just as much as West Indians – plus they belong to Caricom.
Finally After two years of waiting, we were finally able to cross the Bermuda stage. Carnival in Bermuda took place on the third weekend in June with a variety of fetes to choose from. Breakfast fetes, jouvert, concerts, all white parties and what they do best – raft up.
WHERE I PARTIED
We flew in carnival Friday to begin partaking in the festivities. After checking into Newstead Belmont Hotel, we left to go handle our administrative tasks (costume pickup, stocking kitchen and bar and getting a bite to eat) we took a nap to get ready for Swizzle at Sunrise. Swizzle is a breakfast fete, starting at 3am under the Bermuda morning sky. Elephant Man and Problem Child were the headliners for this event; Elephant Man was well received by the crowd as dancehall dominated the hearts of many in attendance. For $130usd, rum swizzles were included but you had to pay for food or other premium drinks.
Upon leaving Swizzle, we headed back to the hotel for rejuvenation before Raft Up. Around noon, we boarded our vessel and begun our long day of dancing under the sun. Held at a new location, there was no beach access so many needed to coordinate with friends to arrive. Offlevel BDA hosted an experience for those who may not have boats or access to any. On board were several talented DJS, while food and drinks were unlimited. You can imagine the vibes on board by hour 3 of shots, soca and pristine blue water. I did miss seeing all the people from the beach front on their floaties but we still had an amazing time swimming and partying nearby other patrons on their boats.
Euphoria took place later that night and was one for the books! dare I say the best of them all. The party promoters moved the event to the beach and it was a vibe parting under the midnight sky at a beautiful location. DJ Mystro and DJ Rusty G did their thing – that tornado circle was fuego!
In previous planning guides, I’ve mentioned how Bermuda is the optimal location for “vacation & carnival”. We took that personally, on Sunday we decided to explore the island a bit before getting ready for our next fete. We drove down to Horseshoe Bay Beach, the most photographed beach in Bermuda. Against the advice of the beach signs, we climbed the rock cliff for a better view of the beach and it was worth it! The Crystal Caves and Unfinished Church are some of my favorite touristy things to checkout as well. After spending some time at Ranger’s Club, and taking in a quick cricket game, we got back to Newstead Hotel to get ready for Glow Bermuda.
Glow is an all white, all inclusive affair and arguably one of my favorites. I have seen this event grow from my first time in 2017 to now and they continue to reset the bar. Speciality bars like Johnnie Walker and Grey Goose were well decorated under the Bermuda night sky with tented areas for food surrounding the main stage and dance floor. Additionally, nothing beats seeing beautiful West Indian people adorned in their best white outfits Lord Hype and Tony X started their segment with some Whitney Houston hits and slowly built the vibe from there. Who could deny the power of Whitney’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody?”
THE ROAD EXPERIENCE
This was my first time experiencing jouvert in Bermuda, and I am happy I decided to attend – it was one for the books! I believe this is the first time jouvert took it to the streets and you were able to chip alongside the truck. Once there is a truck with an amazing sound system. I’m happy.
Additionally, there was breakfast awaiting jouvert patrons, as well as a large water hose and truck park experience at the end of the route.
We began getting ready for carnival around 11AM. Figuring out costume pieces, panicking about if the bra has enough support, setting makeup to ensure it’s sweat-proof — you know all the small details that make carnival what it is. I love that my costume looked exactly as advertised if not more beautiful. The gold against my skin created an angelic glow, the gem and feather work were also well executed.
Our Party People goodie bag was also so well done! In our boxes were pringles (who doesnt love these chips?), honey pot wipes and feminine products, sunnies, bio-oil, a fan, a towel, chapstick, lotion, and my favorite – a clutch to match my costume (excellent touch!)
Getting Ready Details
- Carnival Boots: Stretch Bootie
- Makes my makeup almost sweat-proof – Mehron MakeUp Primer
- SPF Used Over Makeup: Habitat SPF Mist or Resetting Powder
- Carnivalista Fishnets: 10% OFF Discount Code: GLOBEY2023
We got to the road around 230PM and immediately joined the vibe after getting our cocktails. There was a variety of drinks on board, at one point the drinks truck held a hydration hour where they only served water so that masqueraders were forced to take in H20 — I really appreciated that. Some people will drink for hours and never once ask for water. Nice touch!
For this year’s carnival, the route changed from the 2019 location but it was gorgeous chipping alongside the beach and through smaller Bermudian neighborhoods. Due to the location change, there were a lot more spectators than usual – I love that they get to see Carnival growing on their island, it will encourage them to register in 2023, as they surely joined the band. This year had an unusual amount of stormers, and the streets were much narrower, causing the road to feel confined.
The band staff held ropes to separate masqueraders from unpaid spectators but that was difficult to maintain at some points (Remember we’re nearby a beach or no sidewalks). At one point we were literally being shoved out the way by stormers. While I don’t mind if they chip alongside the band ON THE SIDE, I do take issue when a spectator is infringing on my experience as a paid masquerader. I paid to be in the band, you didn’t — why am I fighting you for space behind the truck?. (But I’m an optimist so I’d like to see those stormers converted to masqueraders in 2023 and a bigger band means another music truck right?)
Once my carnival backpack came off, we turned up the pace. Problem Child gave a stellar road performance while DJ Rusty G, DJ Puffy and Mystro kept masqueraders engaged and hyped. I loved the longer route (more time to enjoy and pace yourself) and loved the ‘rest stop’ at the end. The truck pulled into what I’ll call a carnival park with seating, tented areas for eating and washrooms – masqueraders were able to eat and relax before [or dance some more] heading home. The food was delicious! Whoever makes those veggie pies — yum!
My biggest observation of the crowd were the non-soca lovers at these events quite literally standing while some of the most popular 2020-2022 soca songs played. We still have a lot of work to do as well as learning the newer soca. I felt like we were in a bit of a time warp (Famalay literally dominated the weekend). If it was a 2018/2019 soca song the crowd moved but anything newer, people were just standing around. While the DJs are there to teach us new music at times, we have to do our due diligence as well with staying abreast to the new soca hits and keeping the culture thriving.
Here are some 2022 soca mixes to get up to speed for the other upcoming carnivals:
- Jelinthemix – 2022 Carnival CoolDown
- ThisIsJester – Escapism 2022
- DJ Riddim Master – 30 in 30 Minutes
I had a blast and loved my Carnival in Bermuda experience and would really like to thank the team for picking up the torch – I can’t imagine the logistics that goes into putting on a carnival so thank you.
Bermuda, until we meet again…