It’s been a few weeks since the Antigua Carnival festivities have ended so let’s get into this recap.
Land of 365 beaches, Antigua hosts a thirteen day festival of colorful costumes, music and revelry every summer. Often described as the Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival, Antigua comes alive during the last week of July, culminating on the first Monday and Tuesday of August. I arrived in Antigua on Carnival Friday, excitedly ready to participate.
After a seamless airport process, our taxi driver (coordinated through @thecarnivalboutique) picked us up and we headed to get a bite to eat before heading over to Jumby Bay, a luxury resort island off the coast of mainland Antigua. We patiently sailed over on a ferry to a beautiful island paradise with private homes and villas for rent in addition to 5-star hotel experiences. Villas can cost upwards of 35K a night; if you have it on your dream list, @thecarnivalboutique can help.
After check in, we were carnival costume bound. I decided to play mas with Insane Carnival this year, a premium Antiguan band. We headed to Insane Carnival ‘s mas camp around 9pm on Carnival Friday to pickup our carnival costumes and we were in and out. Upon walking in, we checked in with an Insane rep who gave us a form to check off each piece of our costume. After getting our carnival costumes and dutty mas packages, two reps walked us to our vehicles to assist us with loading the feathers. (Kudos to Insane for the customer service). To our amusement, the carnival feathered backpack was collapsable (a new trend I’m noticing in mas making). It’s super convenient in regards to transporting them but the frames are a bit heavier than what I’ve become accustomed too aka much more bruising, I’ll have to add padding or wire wrappings to my carnival travel list.
We kicked off Carnival Saturday at Ripple x Tease, a catamaran cruise. After boarding, English Harbor rum cocktails were made as we got ready to set sail. We eventually anchored and docked 4 vessels side by side at a beautiful beach enclave and continued with a beach party. Lunch was shortly served as party patrons danced under the afternoon sun.
The next day, we attended Top Shelf’s Lemonade, an all inclusive breakfast party at a gorgeous art gallery. The grounds were truly stellar with the décor to match. Party attendees were welcomed by a delicious corn chowder and omelette station. As the day progressed, baristas made sangria and lemon drops and served shots to aid in the process of Sunday afternoon’s litness.
It was time to up the ante for j’ouvert. We began our Monday promptly at 3AM and got ready for Insane Carnival x Dutty Mas, a food inclusive J’ouvert. As soon as we walked in, I headed to the food tent and was served warm bread with butternut squash, a mini salad and saltfish. We were there for no more than 20 minutes before we were joyfully color bombed with paint and powder. DJs played a lot of small island soca, paint and powder was in abundance and many came in to let go and bask in the euphoric feeling of dutty mas.
After taking a beach bath and rinsing off 3 or 4 times from our J’ouvert duttiness, it was time for a nap before the road. Carnival Monday begins at 1PM, so we met the band just at its starting point (but missed out on lunch as that was stationary). We happily chipped alongside two drinks truck, a large music truck, bathroom and VIP truck. The VIP truck came with food on board on day one and provided relief to any tired feet.
As the sun set, the vibes got even better as masqueraders got more hyper into the night. The djs did an amazing job of playing a variety of soca from every island while providing a very authentic Antiguan carnival experience, Antiguan soca definitely dominated. I had such a good time on carnival Monday, I could not wait to put on my costume the next day. The energy from Monday renewed my carnival spirit.
Carnival Monday ended around 10pm for us; we then we headed over to Glow Mas, an after party. Many were encouraged to wear neon colors and paint celebratory style. Once inside, suckah bags of infused cocktails were distributed as Sir Lance and Dj Jime kept party goers engaged.
My favorite day arrived, I was happy to put on my Insane carnival costume. Insane did an amazing job producing our costumes and with presentation, masqueraders received a cute hot pink beach bag to prove it. My golden body wear was well made and looked so much better than pictures could display. Insane also provided a very detailed brochure with information & details about what to expect for Carnival. What a nice touch!
After make-up, taking pictures and getting our backpacks into the vehicle, we were lucky to meet Insane just as the band was pulling off. Insane carnival masqueraders looked so good and joyous in their costumes, we promptly got a drink and joined in on the fun.
To my glee, there were many roaming photographers as we chipped down the road. You could have left your phone home and still had your day documented. We quickly organized into sections, which looked superb seeing so many feathers in uniformity, before reaching the judging point. We let loose shortly after, dancing to Groovy Monarch Claudette Peters’ ‘Stressless‘. She gave us a mini performance on the road which was a highlight to the Insane carnival experience.
I love that there was space to roam with my carnival backpack and stormers were minimal. The day continued well into the night – drinks kept flowing, vibes kept growing and we had an amazing day. Our joyful day concluded around 8pm at the lunch spot where soup , sandwiches and beverages were served to masqueraders. After a second blissful experience in Antigua, I would definitely recommend it. Put Antigua Carnival on your bucket list for 2023. Dates : August 3 to August 10, 2023.
Yours in Mas,