Tips, Trends, and Answers for Carnivals and Festivals

10 Things to Know About Carnival if its Your First Time!

10 Things to Know About Carnival if its Your First Time!

If you have never been to a Caribbean Carnival or a Carnival Newbie, this post will give you all the essential must need to know information about how to get ready and prepared! 

When are Carnivals?

Carnival parades and festivals occur all around the world. They have grown to be quite spectacular and celebrated with colorful costumes and crazy street parties especially in the Caribbean. In the past most Carnivals were celebrated a few days before the Lent Holiday.

Today the main Carnivals around the world are scheduled in a staggered schedule to allow each island to have the spotlight for its own celebration. 

Each island and/or city offers it own unique experience, however the main Carnivals that are now known (in no particular order) around the world are:

  1. Brazil/Rio Carnival
  2. Trinidad and Tobago Carnival
  3. Notting Hill Carnival
  4. Labor Day Carnival in NYC
  5. Caribana in Toronto
  6. Miami Carnival
  7. Jamaica Carnival
  8. Crop Over in Barbados 
  9. CayMAS in Grand Cayman
  10. St. Lucia Carnival

Every year the schedule may change, but we will do our best to post when events are occurring. 

When planning to attend a Carnival definitely be prepared to know what day the road parade is. That is the main event. You usually also want to arrive a few days before to participate in the local events and parties ("fetes"). As well be able to pick up your costume on the island or city before the day of the event. Usually you will not be able to receive your costume or want to have it shipped. 

What are the Carnival Events?

Most Carnivals consist of fetes, concerts, panorama, J'ouvert and a road parade where the public participates. Fetes are another word for parties or concerts. Think drinks, music and performers. Fetes may be all-inclusive or just entry with a bar. Some fetes are also "cooler fetes" where you can bring your own cooler with your own drinks! When picking what fetes to attend, always check with someone who's been before or look for the reviews. There do tend to be some scam fetes that promise more than they deliver. Also never arrive on time, fetes usually always start 1-2 hours later than advertised.

J'ouvert is an event all its own. Think of a paint party in the street... that sometimes has mud and oil as well! Its definitely an event you will get dirty at! But its a great time. 

Check out of blog on What to Wear and Expect at your First J'ouvert for more information on this topic. 

The main parade is called Road March or Road Parade. That's the day when all the masqueraders come out with your band and parade across the city or town in the streets. Some larger Carnivals you will "Cross The Stage" where the band and carnival masqueraders are all judged for their costume. Smaller Carnivals have less "security" meaning that you don't have to necessarily be a part of the band to join the street parade, however larger Carnivals like Trinidad, Caribana and Rio do keep the bands separate and prevent anyone from joining in. 

When you are part of a band, you can choose different costume options that are called "Sections". For example, a band may have a specific theme, and the different sections are different costume options that represent that theme. So if you are playing with your friends, play with the same band, but feel free to mix up the sections. You will still be able to play with your friends. 

When you are in a band, you will get a wrist band. This is probably the most important thing! Don't loose our wrist band because then you will loose access to the events, road parade, drinks and food that are included in the price of your costume. 

How do I join a Band?

If you are a newbie and want to join a band, look for the country or city that is hosting the event's official Carnival Committee and then look at what bands are registered. Never play with a band that is not registered. 

You can then usually look for those Bands website to see when they will advertise and make available their costumes for purchase. This is called the "Band Launch". Some of the most popular bands can sell out in a day or so, so make sure and be ready to register when they become available. 

Once you register with the band and select your costume, you are ready to go! 

How Much Does Carnival Cost?

Carnivals vary in cost. You will usually have to come out of pocket for airfare, accommodations, food and transportation and the entry and costs for fetes. You will also need some great outfits and that's where CarnivalMW comes in! We are your one stop shop for great looks. 

Bands will cover the cost for the costume and drinks for the day of the parade.

Average band costumes now range from $400.00 US to $1500.00 or more. But its worth it believe me! 

Stay tuned for more information and ideas to make the best of your experience. #carnivalmonday #carnival #carnivalmw

And make sure to follow us on IG @carnivalmw and bookmark this for the latest fashion designs and ideas for your Carnival Monday!