Want to Attend Trinidad Carnival in 2023? Here’s A Planning Guide

Trinidad Carnival is one of THE most anticipated carnivals in the world. Carnival chasers and virgins mark Trinidad’s Carnival as the highlight of their carnival bucket list and it also sets the tone for all other carnivals to follow. Plan to attend for at least a week, February 15 – February 23, 2023 to have the most enjoyable time and attend the best fetes. There are two days of carnival so prepare your mind body and soul for that. Most veterans book their hotel/guest room stays by April/May, if you’re a newbie, you are already late.

Checkout this 2023 Trinidad Carnival Packing List 

Carnival Monday: February 20, 2023

Carnival Tuesday: February 21, 2023

Getting There 

FLY  – Flying into Piacro International Airport (POS) is your ONLY option. (Unless you somehow get into Tobago but that’s just doing the most).  We recommend buying flights before band launch to avoid paying outrageous airfare costs or waiting until November/December when flights go down a bit.

*Travel tip: check for flights during the wee hours of the morning (like 1AM) with your browser in private/incognito mode 

Places To Stay 

Part of what makes planning to attend Trinidad carnival frustrating, is the lack of accommodations. Thousands of people are coming into the country and so the demand is way higher than the supply, which is how you end up with hotels that are $500 a night. Here is a list of some lodging locations to help you plan your carnival experience:

Hotels

Guest Houses

Who You Can Play Mas With

‘Playing mas’ means you will be participating in the carnival parade. You do not need to learn a dance routine, you simply choose the band you like and register. Registration consists of putting a deposit down on the costume you like. You will pickup and complete payment in February of 2023. (I highly recommend paying your costume off before arrival so that costume pickup is faster, most bands allow this via their website.)

There are two parade days in Trinidad. Carnival Monday where you wear whatever you want and Carnival Tuesday, the day you get to wear your costume. I know some of you are thinking it, but No, you cannot just wear your own costume and participate. You must register with one of the bands below.

Here is a comprehensive list of all 2023 Trinidad Carnival Bands.

Unsure which band to play mas with? Checkout the Trinidad Carnival band guide

What You Get for the price of your Costume

While costume prices may shock the newbie carnivalist (prices are in the $700 to $3000usd range), keep in mind you are paying for an experience not just a costume.  Here’s what you get for your money if you choose a premium band:

  • Your Costume
  • The Band – Other masqueraders, vibes, trucks, DJs, speaker boxes
  • Unlimited top shelf alcohol
  • A Goody-Bag
  • Meals and Snacks – Both days
  • Extraction Team and Security
  • Medical aid and ambulance service.
  • *After party (With Tribe’s bands)
  • Mobile Restroom
  • *Amenities – champagne cart, feather holding station, cool down zone, re-touch zone, glue on your gems station, massage station, ice cream or popsicles. *Amenities vary from band to band 

Where to get Trinidad Carnival Monday Wear & Carnival Accessories 

Carnival Monday is come as you like day once you have registered with a band. You have the option of wearing your own designs or purchasing one from a designer. Here is a list of all the designers, check out their Instagram pages for Monday wear options.

  • cANYAval
  • Chandra Maharaj
  • Chez Zen Mas
  • Christian Boucaud Designs
  • Decoteau Designs
  • FonRose The Brand
  • Himaya by Nadia Batson
  • Humzee Designs
  • J’Fab Body
  • Keisha Als
  • Laura Narayansingh 
  • Marie Collette
  • Mika Mas
  • MonDiva by J.Angelique
  • Neil Young & Co. 
  • Rebel
  • Rhion Rhomany
  • Ryan Chan
  • Seatra
  • Shanyvo Designs
  • Sherise Stewart
  • Steffan Lorenzo
  • Vivre By Chelsea

You will also need to order carnival fishnets, whether for j’ouvert, carnival Monday or Tuesday – they upgrade the look of your carnival costume making you look smooth and glam. I usually order my fishnets from Carnivalista, they are regarded as the best and their hosiery tends to last. If you purchase anything from them, here’s a 10% off discount code: Globey2022. PS: They also sell carnival pouches.

Where you can Fete 

Carnival fetes will be the highlight of your experience. Year round, you hear carnival attendees reminisce about the most anticipated events like Soca Brainwash, Caesar’s Army Ambeach and Soaka Street Festival.

Please note: Some fete tickets are harder to get than others, Tribe, Scorch, Caesar’s Army and Soaka are committee member based events. (This means someone will have to pre-approve you for purchase). Soca Brainwash is first come first serve but sells out in record time – 5 minutes to be exact. Budget around $130usd for an all inclusive fete, and $75usd for entrance only.

Touristy Things To Check Out 

Once carnival is done, feel free to check out the island. Most people go to Tobago for a few days to relax before returning back to work. Here are some other things you can do if you have a free day or two:

  • Asa Wright Nature Centre (Trinidad)
  • Tour the Caroni Bird Sanctuary (Trinidad)
  • Maracas Bay (Trinidad)
  • Pigeon Point (Tobago)
  • Snorkel at Buccoo Reef (Tobago)

How Much It Will Cost 

Carnival can be quite costly and with Trinidad’s being the mecca it will be priced accordingly. I highly recommend creating a carnival savings account system or budget accordingly. I use a mindless savings app, Qapital [use code xw2ds8bm to get $25 once you sign up], which rolls over my purchases to the next dollar and saves it for me. For example if I spend $3.40, it will put 60cents in my account. This really adds up! That way I don’t have to be intentional about saving, its done for me. Digit and the ‘Keep the Change’ program with Bank of America work the same way. (these apps are USA based)

Here is a budget breakdown

  • Flight: $400 – 1200usd (depending on dates and location)
  • Hotel: $550 – $800usd  (double occupancy)
  • Costumes: $660 – $1800usd (depending on backline/frontline and band)
  • Transportation: $100 – $700usd (depending on if you hire a driver or get a car rental within a group)
  • Fetes: $500 – $1200usd (depending on how many fetes you choose to attend, fetes are as low as $30usd and as high as $500usd)

Overall Budget: $3,500usd plus

Yours in Mas

 

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