How to plan a trip to Trinidad Carnival 2020

How to plan a trip to Trinidad Carnival 2020

So after all these years of seeing celebs like Ashanti and Trevor Noah gallivanting around Trinidad for Carnival, you’ve finally decided to see what it’s is all about huh? Well Congrats my friend! You’re about to have one of the best experiences of your life!

Anyone who’s tried planning a trip to Trinidad will tell you how hard it can be. Because of the oil and gas economy, Trinidad’s tourism sector is underdeveloped and a lot of the tourist services that you would easily find in other locations around the world, can be hard to find in Trinidad (or they just don’t exist at all). That’s why I wrote this article. I want to help you navigate the ins and outs of Trinidad Carnival! That way, if you don’t actually know anyone in Trinidad or know anyone from Trinidad, you and your crew can still have an AMAZING Trini Carnival experience.

This is a pretty long read because I cover EVERYTHING. You don’t have to read it all in one sitting, just bookmark it and keep it as a reference.

 

Let’s get started!

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Photo credit: IG | @ashanti

1) When is it, and how do I get there?

 

Trinidad Carnival 2020 is on February 24th and 25th.

Trinidad’s Carnival happens on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (the start of the christian season of lent). Some say that carnival started happening on these days because it’s when party-goers get to enjoy things of the flesh for one last time before becoming “ultra holy” for the season of lent. I’ve heard mixed reports, so not sure how true that actually is (read more on actual Carnival history here), but in any case, Trinidad’s Carnival takes place at the same time as Brazil’s Carnival and at the same time as Mardi Gras in New Orleans. So just know, if Mardi Gras is a big deal to you, you’re going to have to miss it for at least one year.

That being said, the dates for carnival change every year. Most times it’s in February, but sometimes it can be in late January, or – as in 2019 – it can be in early March. For future reference, a simple google search of “Trinidad Carnival [desired year]” will let you know the dates. 

How do you get there?… well… by plane of course!

American Airlines, JetBlue, United, Copa, Caribbean Airlines… they all fly there! There are no shortage of ways to get to Trini. Plane tickets can cost anywhere from $500- $1500 depending on the airport you’re flying in from. In the states, direct flights to Trinidad happen from JFK, FLL, MIA and IAH, so if you live in the states you’ll have to connect through one of those cities. Additionally, If you live on the West Coast, Copa Airlines may be a good choice. If you plan wisely, you can spend a day touristing in Panama, before you board your flight straight to Trinidad. 

What is the Weather like?… Hot!

In the tropics, there are only 2 seasons. The rainy season and the dry season. Carnival takes place during the dry season, so the weather tends to be hot and relatively dry (compared to the humidity levels of the rainy season). Although it’s the dry season there may still be some rainfall here and there but those showers shouldn’t last more than an hour or so.

How much vacation time should you take? – At least 10 working days.

Although Carnival is only technically 2 days, the carnival festivities happen for months prior, with the first fetes (carnival parties) starting as early as the day after Christmas. Because of this, I would suggest spending at least 10 days in Trinidad so you can enjoy some of these fetes (I’ll let you know which are the most popular later on in this article), and also so you can recover for a day or two after the actual parade (trust me, you’ll need recovery time). It’s not a bad idea to land in Trinidad some time around the Tuesday or Wednesday before carnival, that way you can get your bearings and start getting used to the “fete land”.

2) What Kind of Music Do They Play?

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Photo credit: thetropixs.com

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Photo credit: IG | @kesthebandofficial

Speaking of the “fete land” (which was a popular song in Trinidad a few years ago)  the music played in Trinidad for carnival is called Soca (pronounced “So-Kah”).

Every year singers release hundreds of songs specifically for the carnival season. As with all genres, some songs are better than others, and you’ll find as the carnival season goes on some songs are played much more often than others.

I personally think you’ll have a much better time if you knew some of the most popular songs ahead of time, but others may disagree with me and say knowing them before you land is not necessary. In my opinion, if you know these songs ahead of time, you’ll be in a better position to get the most out of them.

If you want to take my advice and learn some, I’d recommend following DJ Private Ryan on Sound Cloud. Around November/December he publishes a mix of all the best soca to be released so far, and then he does an updated one a couple weeks before Carnival. Listen to these mixes while at work or at the gym and by the time you touch Trini you’ll be primed and ready to go! If you want to go even further in your music research, frequent the Youtube channel “Julians Promos” in the months leading up to carnival. Every year he has a playlist of all the latest songs as soon as they come out. You can see which ones are the most popular by which have the most views. 

If, after listening, you realize you don’t like soca, then Trinidad Carnival isn’t for you. You’re not going to hear any hip hop, dancehall or reggae. Just pure unadulterated, non-stop SOCA!

3) Where Is The Best Place To Stay?

 

All though carnival festivities take place all around Port of Spain, if your goal for your week in Trinidad is to party as much as possible and you’re not that interested in doing any tourist related activities, then without doubt the most convenient location to stay is in the region of Port of Spain called Woodbrook.

You will be within walking distance of a lot of fetes. Popular fete venues like The Hasley Crawford Stadium, The Queens Park Oval, Nelson Mandela Park, and St Mary’s College Gounds are all 5-15 mins away by foot. You will also be able to walk to meet your Mas Band on Carnival Monday and Tuesday as many popular carnival bands and j’ouvert bands assemble in or close to Woodbrook.

Essentially, you’ll be able to walk to food, walk to drink and walk to almost anything carnival related. No rental vehicle or taxi driver required for the most part.

Without doubt my recommendation as the best location in Woodbrook is going to be the high rise condo buildings called “One Woodbrook Place”. It has the perfect location and depending on the floor you’re on, absolutely KILLER views!

When it comes to carnival accommodations you cannot get more convenient than here. In addition to its close proximity to so many carnival related activities, there are also restaurants and bars on the first floor, as well as a pharmacy and an IMAX cinema. The major downside of this building however is that almost none of the available units are on airbnb, so if you want to stay here, you may have to contact a local realtor. Since this is a condo building, each unit has an individual owner who may or may not be renting it at carnival time. Contact real estate firms such as Terra Caribbean or Tucker Real Estate and ask about availability as soon as possible.

The other downside is that (as far as I’ve been told) a lot of the units in this condo are either unsold or unoccupied, therefore the building is not up kept like you would expect a luxury high rise would be. I’ve personally been inside 2 units while visiting friends, and even though the public areas (hallways etc.) looked run down, the units themselves were sexy AF. But once again it just depends on who owns the unit and if they’ve put some reno money into their property. So make sure you ask for pictures of the actual unit before you book. No surprises.

Despite the downsides, this is still the most CONVENIENT location and also comes with spectacular views.

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Image result for one woodbrook place view
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If you procrastinated, or you just don’t like staying in private residences then you have 2 choices.

1) A guest house: there are a few in Woodbrook – I have neither been inside any of them, nor do I know people who have, so I cannot recommend any by name, but if you look on a site like Expedia you will find them.

2) A hotel: Just make sure it’s close to the Savannah.

The Savannah is the cultural epicenter of carnival. In addition to the food stalls and independent shops that line parts of it during carnival time, the Savannah also hosts a variety of carnival related events in the months before the big show. Most important about the Savannah however, is that it is the main judging point for carnival bands (will explain in more detail later), and it has the biggest “stage” for masqueraders to cross in their costumes. If you hear any soca song talking about “the stage”, the Savannah Stage is the stage they’re referring to.

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Image result for hilton hotel trinidad
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Although the Savannah is the cultural epicenter of Carnival, unless you’re there to try some local dishes, or you’re crossing the stage on Monday and Tuesday, you probably won’t be there at any other point.

It doesn’t make much sense to make it the “point of interest” that you stay closest to when looking for carnival accommodations, because you’re either going to have to hire a car to take you everywhere, OR, you’ll have to walk 30 mins or more to get to fetes/carnival band assembly points. Hence why i suggest Woodbrook.

If however you’re looking for hotels there, then my recommendations for hotels around the Savannah would be The Kapok hotel, The Hilton Hotel, or The Normandie Hotel. The Kapok and the Hilton are both visible from the Savannah, and The Normandie is about a 10 minute walk from the Savannah itself. If you stay at one of these you can get away with walking to a lot of activities, although the walk would be much much…MUCH longer since all of these hotels are on the “far side” of the Savannah.  (Walking from Kapok Hotel to Woodbrook would be somewhere around 30mins, but Hilton or Normandie to Woodbrook is at least an hour walk)

If you go any further away from the Savannah than these 3 hotels, (especially to the swanky Hyatt Hotel on the Port of Spain waterfront), you’re going to end up having to hire a driver to take you everywhere. And that my friend is money you could have been using on fetes instead.

If you don’t mind hiring a driver to take you to and from everywhere, then other then these 3 hotels, some nice hotels would be The Hyatt Hotel, Cascadia Hotel, Radisson Hotel, Courtyard by Marriott, The Chancellor Hotel or any other hotel that is within a mile or 2 of The Savannah/ Woodbrook.

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4) Fetes! Yes! Which Fetes Do I Go To?

 

Fetes are the pre-carnival parties and concerts that take place to help get you ready for carnival.

Fetting is one of the absolute best things about Carnival, hands down!  It’s where you’ll hear all the new music and see the best bands and artistes perform their songs. 

When it comes to music, there are 3 types of Fetes:

1) DJ Only – Only DJ’s and no live performances.

2) Live Performances – Mainly DJ’s, but there are also live performances. The singers sing with a background track. No live bands

3) Full Concert – There are full live bands and concert performances, with DJ’s playing sets in between the live bands. These fetes tend to be similar to the music festivals you’d find in the states.

In addition to the music structure, there are alllllllllll types of fetes:

  • Fancy exclusive fetes – You have to know someone to be able to buy a ticket
  • J’ouvert fetes – It gets dutty! Paint, Powder, Water, VIBES! 
  • Drinks inclusive fetes – Free alcohol and chasers
  • Food inclusive fetes – You get a variety of local foods for free
  • All inclusive fetes – Free food and Free alcohol
  • Cooler fetes – You bring your own drinks in a cooler
  • Boat ride fetes – Pretty self explanatory
  • There is even a fete thrown by the Trinidad and Tobago Army

You name it, there is a fete for that, so during your week of fetting, you’ll want to experience a variety.

Make sure you experience each these:

  • A J’ouvert fete
  • An inclusive fete (either drinks inclusive, food inclusive or all inclusive)
  • A fete where there are live bands performing (specifically, a fete where Machel Montano is performing).

 

AS SOON AS you buy your round trip plane ticket to Trinidad you’re going to want to immediately start planning your fete schedule (yup that’s a thing) and start buying your fete tickets. These things sell out fast and you don’t want to be caught outside the party paying extra to scalpers (re-sellers). Go to the Trini Jungle Juice Carnival Events page and click on the link to the upcoming Trinidad carnival. There is a calendar list of every fete as well as a description of the fete and a link to the website that sells tickets to that fete. Some of these fetes sell out as early as the November before Carnival. So I’m going to reiterate, it’s very important that you do your fete schedule as soon as you buy your plane ticket.

When it comes to buying the tickets, some fetes only sell physical tickets that you have to buy from locations around Trinidad (or exclusively from the promoters) and other fetes sell their tickets online. Since this is your first time, I’m going to recommend a few party promoters and specific fetes that I’m pretty sure you will enjoy. All of these tickets can be bought online.

I HIGHLY recommend any party thrown by the group “Caesar’s Army”. You’ll have a good time in any fete they throw. Additionally, look for fetes by Tribe, Candy Coated Events, or Scorch. They are all highly reputable fete promoters who put a lot of time effort and organization into their events.

In the week before carnival, there are multiple fetes every day, it’s entirely possible to go to 3 fetes every single day:

Fete 1: 4am-10am

Fete 2: 1pm – 8pm

Fete 3: 10pm – 5am

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Photo of couple with wristbands from every fete they went to.

 

I would definitely recommend AGAINST that. You WILL burn out, and your body will betray you! Sticking to a schedule of 1 fete a day is a great pace for a beginner. You will get the experience but also ample sleep. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking you HAVE to party 24/7. Nah Bruh… get some good rest in there too. That way you enjoy the party to the fullest and you’re not a sleep deprived zombie. Not enjoying the fetes because you’re too tired, sounds like a waste of your hard earned money to me…

 

The following is a list of 11  fetes that I recommend, all happening from the Wednesday to the Sunday before Carnival

(The week before carnival is called carnival week, that Wednesday is called Carnival Wednesday and that Sunday, Carnival Sunday):

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Photocredit: IG | @jefferscity

1) Punchy Wednesday

 

  • Carnival Wednesday Night
  • Cooler Fete
  • Starts at 10pm
  • Live Bands
  • Dress in comfortable shoes
  • You can walk to this if you stay in woodbrook
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Photocredit: IG | @archeology79

2) A.M. Beach

 

  • Carnival Thursday Morning
  • Breakfast Beach Party
  • Starts at 3am
  • Dress for a beach party
  • All Inclusive (food and drink)
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit: IG | @machelmontano

3) Tribe Ignite

 

  • Carnival Thursday Night
  • Starts at 10pm
  • Live Bands
  • Dress in comfortable shoes
  • Drinks inclusive (alcohol and chaser)
  • You can walk to this if you stay in woodbrook
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Photo credit: IG | @skkanme

4) Sunrise Breakfast Party

 

  • Carnival Friday Morning
  • Starts at 4am
  • Live performances
  • All inclusive (Alcohol and Food)
  • Dress swanky
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit: IG | @islandbox

5) _uck Work

 

  • Carnival Friday Afternoon
  • Pool and Cabana Party
  • Starts at 3pm
  • All inclusive (food and alcohol)
  • Swimwear only
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit IG | @machelmontano

6) Blue Range Cooler Fete

 

  • Carnival Friday Night
  • Cooler fete – Bring your own alcohol in a cooler
  • Starts at 10pm
  • Live Bands
  • Dress in comfortable shoes
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit IG | @caesarsarmy

7) A.M. Bush

 

  • Highly recommend***
  • Carnival Saturday Morning
  • J’ouvert Party
  • Starts at 2am
  • This is a paint and water party. Wear clothes you don’t mind being stained permanently.
  • Partial All inclusive (unlimited alcohol, limited food)
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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8) Suits

 

  • Carnival Saturday Morning
  • Starts at 7am
  • A Boat Party
  • Cooler fete – Bring your own drinks in a cooler
  • Dress in swimwear
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit IG | @phoenix0910

9) Soca Brainwash

 

  • Highly recommend***
  • Carnival Saturday Morning
  • Starts at 11am
  • All inclusive (alcohol and food)
  • Live performances
  • There is generally a theme every year. Dress in theme.
  • You can walk to this if you stay in woodbrook
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Photo credit IG | @theottfather

10) ValeVibe

 

  • Carnival Sunday Morning
  • Breakfast Party
  • Starts at 4am
  • Food included
  • Cooler fete- bring your own drinks in a cooler.
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit IG | @alexismchin

11) Soaka Street Festival

 

  • Honorable Mention**
  • Carnival Sunday Morning
  • J’ouvert Fete
  • Starts at 4am
  • Food inclusive
  • Wear something that you don’t mind being stained permanently
  • You will be wet with a water hose this entire fete.
  • It is extremely difficult to get tickets to this event. But the vibe is incredible here, so if you can convince a committee member to sell you a ticket you’ll have a great time.
  • You can walk to this if you stay in Woodbrook

An important thing to note is that a lot of fetes now sell separate male and female tickets so that they can control the male to female ratio at their party. Yet another reason to buy your tickets early. More than likely the male tickets will sell out first because there will be less of them. “Scorch” was one of the pioneers of this trend. In addition to this, a lot of these fetes require you to “request” a ticket.  You cannot simply buy it online, you need to select a committee member and write them a message about why you’re requesting a ticket. Only after your request is approved, are you allowed to purchase one. These committee members have been known to request your social media handles so that they can evaluate you before selling you a ticket. If you’re a good looking female buying tickets for you and your girlfriends, this process may be easy. But if you’re a guy trying to go to these fetes with your boys…you may not be successful.

 

**Special mention about Soca Brainwash. If you went to college and there was a Trini in your class, you’ll probably see them at Soca Brainwash. This is an extremely popular fete thrown by a DJ that’s very popular with foreign based Trinis. When the tickets to this event go on sale, they sell out within minutes. So your best bet is to sign up to all of DJ Private Ryan’s social media accounts so that you stay in the loop on the day and time to buy. You can also follow the Soca Brainwash IG account. Checkout the #SocaBrainwash hashtag on Instagram to see what this party is like.

5) How do I find a driver for hire?

 

There are 4 ways you can find a taxi driver to take you around for carnival

 

1) If you’ve used one of the taxi drivers at the airport to take you to your accommodation, you can ask them if they’re willing to take you around for the week. Some may agree and some may pass on the offer. Please note however, that airport taxi drivers tend to be very expensive, so if you use one of these guys all week, they may be severely over charging you for their services.

 

2) Ask for a recommendation from the Hotel you’re staying at. They may have specific drivers that they work with regularly. Additionally, even if the hotel doesn’t, Trinidad is a small place so its likely hotel staff members may know taxi drivers willing to take the job.

 

3) Uber no longer operates in Trinidad, but there are similar ride share apps. One is called TT RideShare and the other called Drop TT. Unfortunately, according to several users, there are not enough drivers on these apps to support the excess carnival demand. However, according to those users, you should use the app at some point during the morning/day when demand is low, then once you get a driver, ask for the drivers personal number and hire him or her directly. If the initial driver you get is unwilling, repeat until you find a willing driver to hire. This method came highly recommended by several Trinidadians as “the best way to find a driver in Trinidad”.

 

4) Use a carnival concierge provider like We Plan You Jam or Carnival Info. They have access to a host of drivers. (More on carnival concierge services later in this article).

6) Which Mas Band Do I Play With?

Before I answer that, let me give you some background info…

In Trinidad, the act of wearing a carnival costume while dancing in the streets is called “playing mas”.

A “mas band” is an organization that designs, makes, and sells carnival costumes.

Mas bands will generally have a theme each year, then design various costumes that fit this theme. Each different costume is called a “section”. So a mas band is made up of multiple sections and you choose which section of the band you want to be in.

 

In addition to the costume, a lot of the most popular bands pride themselves on providing an all inclusive experience. Therefore, in addition to the costume, the fee you pay also gets you:

  • A goodie bag with “free” stuff
  • Multiple meals on Monday and Tuesday
  • Snacks
  • Unlimited alcohol

All of the popular bands will also have “wee wee trucks” (trucks carrying fancy porta potties) that follow the band, so you don’t have to go off route to find a restroom. Additionally, if you’re tired of walking, and you just want to sit for a while, some bands have buses that follow, so you can take a break and sit without the band leaving you behind.

Playing mas can cost you anywhere between US$250 and US$2,500 depending on the band, the costume, and your gender (male costumes tend to be cheaper than female costumes).

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Photocredit IG | @jason.portraits

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Photocredit IG | @jason.portraits

Which band to play with?… well that depends. Carnival is actually a competition. The mas bands are competing to win the title of “band of the year”. This title is generally given to the band with the best designed and highest quality costumes. HOWEVER, these days a few of the most popular bands have decided that they don’t care about the competition and they avoid a lot of the judging points. So while most bands may go through all of Port of Spain, these other ones do not, they stick to Woodbrook and the surrounding areas.

So to answer your question, if you want to play with the band that won “Band of The Year” in 2019, then “The Lost Tribe” is your band. The Lost Tribe has great costumes and a great crowd. But beware, The Lost Tribe is an “alternative” mas band of sorts. While other popular bands generally have designs that are basically glorified bikinis, The Lost Tribe puts a lot of effort to design more unique costumes. So even though the costumes are also bikini based, there is a lot less “nakedness” in this band.

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Photo credit IG | @nadyakshah

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Photo credit IG | @d.o.photography

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Photo credit IG | @siriandavis_

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Photo credit IG | @nadyakshah

If you don’t care about the competition aspect (most of us don’t) and you just want to shake your half naked ass in an elaborate feather lined bikini, then the most popular bands for that are, Tribe, Bliss and Yuma. Tribe being the biggest most established one.

There are A LOT of carnival bands, and each offers something for everyone, but if you are in the 21-40 age range and you want to play in a band with other sexy people in your age group, then these are the bands you want to be in. One problem you may encounter however, is that Tribe tends to be an exclusive band. The majority of the registration in the band happens through committee members. Only if a section is still available after that process will they put it on the open market. Despite this however, you can use the website Fine ah Band to buy a costume from someone who is selling theirs because they can no longer make it for Carnival (you can also buy sold out fete tickets on this site).

A Lot of Trinidadians will have strong opinions on which of these bands are better, but to be quite honest, as long as you’re with your friends, you’ll have a good time in any of them, so you don’t have to jump through Tribe’s hoops just to have some fun. (Tribe IS the largest of these three though, so infer from that what you will). 

Need some more help trying to figure out which band to go with? Check out this article.

Full disclosure, these 3 bands tend to have an uptown/tourist clientele. So if you’re looking for a more “downtown” experience, I would suggest the bands “Legacy” or “Ronnie and Caro”. They both have a great reputation, are safe, and have a lot of the same conveniences that you would find in the 3 I mentioned earlier. The main difference is the demographics of the masqueraders. The only reason I did not mention either of these two at the top of the list is because, as a first time tourist/visitor, I think you’d probably be more comfortable in a band where there are more people that sound like you. It should help ease the culture shock.

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Photo credit IG | @siriandavis_

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Photo credit IG | @k_corbin

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Photocredit IG | @jason.portraits

Band Launch Season” (the time of year when mas bands show off their new costumes for the upcoming carnival) tends to be around July/August. More than 5 of the most popular bands, including Tribe, Bliss and The Lost Tribe, showcase their new costumes at a joint event called “Festival of The Bands”. You can find out the date for this event by following the social media accounts of Tribe, Bliss or The Lost Tribe.

Once this event has happened, pick the costume you like. Registration will open a few days/weeks after this event, so once registration opens you’ll want to get yours done FAST (just like with fetes, these things sell out fast). You will be required to put a down payment on your costume when you register and the remainder will be due when you pick up your costume in Trinidad.

Once you pick up your costume, included in your package will be instructions on where to find the band on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. As well as other pertinent information related to playing mas with that band.

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Photo credit : IG | @nessytg

Pro-tip: Download the app “D Junction”. It has the GPS location of many major bands and will help you locate your mas band on Carnival Monday and Tuesday – especially if you oversleep and miss meeting them at the assembly point in the morning..

7) OK, If that’s Mas…then what’s J’ouvert?



J’ouvert (pronounced: Jew-vay) marks the beginning of the carnival festivities.

It kicks off at 4am on Carnival Monday. But there are no pretty costumes here. Nope, not at all. Jouvert is all about oil and mud and paint and powder. Some say the purpose of j’ouvert is to make us realize that despite our different races etc we’re all the same, because once everyone is covered in mud and paint, you can’t tell who is white, who is black and who is indian. That’s one way to look at it, but there are also other historical facts about the origination of J’ouvert. If you’re interested in learning more about that, you can read an article like this one.

 

There are 2 ways to do J’ouvert, and I don’t think I can recommend one over the other:

1) The first way is to take a trip to downtown Port of Spain to a place called South Quay.

There is a j’ouvert competition there. You will see all of the traditional j’ouvert characters and costumes, including my personal favorite, the fire breathing blue devil. Going this route is a complete cultural experience, and for that reason I recommend it. You’ll need to hire a taxi driver to take you there and pick you back up. Please note, that the chances of you being pick pocketed etc, will definitely rise if you go into downtown Port of Spain. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t go, but just as you would be aware of those sticky fingered street children in Paris, you should be aware of your surroundings in Port of Spain.

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photo credit: IG | @jason.portraits

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Photo credit IG | @jason.portraits

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Photo credit IG | @jason.portraits

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Photo credit IG | @jason.portraits

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Photo credit IG | @jason.portraits

2) The 2nd way, is to join a J’ouvert band like “red antz”, “dirty dozen” or “yellow devils”.

All of those bands assemble around 3am in the Woodbrook area, and they are all drinks inclusive. The band provides ample paint and powder, as well as snacks, “wee wee” trucks, etc. so that you can revel in the j’ouvert festivities the right way. J’ouvert wraps up around 9am or so, so you can make your way back to your place, bathe thoroughly and get ready for the carnival monday “pretty mas”.

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photo credit: IG | @limejouvert

Pro-tip: Before you leave your house cover yourself head to toe with baby oil or Vaseline. This will make it much easier to wash the paint and mud off as it won’t get stuck to your skin as badly. Without it you will be discolored for days.

8) Bago?

After Carnival, you’re going to need a cool down.

A trip to Tobago is a very popular option. Round trip tickets from Trinidad to Tobago cost about US$50. But don’t procrastinate on buying these. Even though there is a flight leaving every hour, these flights get booked up quickly on ash Wednesday (the day after carnival) as everyone is trying to get over there to relax on the beach. I have a friend who once bought his ash Wednesday ticket to Tobago, before he even bought his flight to go down to Trinidad in the first place.

Tobago is extremely tourist friendly, so I won’t bother going into any detail about how to plan that trip. You should be able to work that out on your own pretty easily.

If you don’t have the ability to head to Tobago for a few days, then consider a 1 day trip “Down De Islands” instead.

When a Trini talks about “Down De Islands” (DDI), they’re referring to the mini islands off the northwest coast of Trinidad. Spending time on the remote beaches found there is a popular day activity for boat owners. You can plan a day trip with a group like HikeNation. They will take you on the trip with some snacks, some finger foods and a cooler full of beers so you can recover from your previous days of drinking… with more drinking (that’s the Trinidadian way).

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photo credit: IG | @chandramaharaj

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photo credit : IG | @Playing_hooky_868

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photo credit : IG | @Playing_hooky_868

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photo credit : IG | @Playing_hooky_868

9) Can’t I Just Hire Someone to do all this for me?

 

Yes! Yes you definitely can.

A company like The LX Experience – run by Howard University Alumn Aaron Humphries, will take all of the guesswork out of your carnival planning. Just like you would tour Europe with a company such as Trafalgar or Europtours.com, for a single fee The LX Experience will take you everywhere you need to go.

Their full service package includes:

– Round trip flight from JFK
– Accommodation for 7 nights
– Ground transportation
– 7 catered dinners
– Fete tickets
– A carnival costume
– A j’ouvert costume
– Day trip to Tobago including flight

Spots are extremely limited with LX (less than 50 people each carnival) so if you’re interested contact them to book ASAP.

In addition to The LX Experience, you can also reach out to We Plan You Jam , Carnival info or Soca Islands as they provide similar services.

Check Out This Video!

 

Did you zone out while reading this?

Would you rather watch a cute Filipino girl tell you just about everything I said in this article?

Check out this vid my friend Kat made!

 

So What Have We Learned?

 

Accommodation:

If you stay in Woodbrook you will spend a lot less money hiring cars to take you around because you will be within walking distance of a lot of events (including the carnival parade itself)

 

Fetes:

Once you’ve bought your plane ticket, immediately make your fete schedule (recommend 1 fete a day). Then buy your tickets early or you’ll be paying more to scalpers at the door.

 

Costume:
Pick a mas band and keep track of their website so you will know when the new costumes are revealed and when registration opens. Once it opens put your down payment on your costume asap.

 

Cool Down:

Head over to Tobago after carnival to enjoy a couple days of relaxation on some beautiful beaches. If you don’t have the time to head over to Tobago for multiple days, a day trip “down de islands” is a great alternative.

Awesome! That’s it! You now have everything you need to know to start planning your Trinidad Carnival adventure! See you on de road!

Got any other useful planning tips or have questions about anything? Put them in the comments section below. 

 

This Article was written by our resident Trini and BroBasket Chief Sexiness Officer: Kenneth Connell

Note: This is an extremely in depth article. As such the mobile version (that you’re currently reading) has been shortened for length and has abbreviated content. To read the full version please visit this page on a desktop/laptop.

So after all these years of seeing celebs like Ashanti and Trevor Noah gallivanting around Trinidad for Carnival, you’ve finally decided to see what it’s is all about huh? Well Congrats my friend! You’re about to have one of the best experiences of your life!

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Photo credit: IG | @ashanti

 

Anyone who’s tried planning a trip to Trinidad will tell you how hard it can be. Because of the oil and gas economy, Trinidad’s tourism sector is underdeveloped and a lot of the tourist services that you would easily find in other locations around the world, can be hard to find in Trinidad (or they just don’t exist at all). That’s why I wrote this article. I want to help you navigate the ins and outs of Trinidad Carnival! That way, if you don’t actually know anyone in Trinidad or know anyone from Trinidad, you and your crew can still have an AMAZING Trini Carnival experience.

This is a pretty long read because I cover EVERYTHING. You don’t have to read it all in one sitting, just bookmark it and keep it as a reference.

 

Let’s get started!

1) When is it, and how do I get there?

 

Trinidad Carnival 2020 is on February 24th and 25th

Trinidad’s Carnival happens on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (the start of the christian season of lent). That means it takes place at the same time as Brazil’s Carnival and at the same time as Mardi Gras in New Orleans. So just know, if Mardi Gras is a big deal to you, you’re going to have to miss it for at least one year.

How do you get there?… well… by plane of course! American Airlines, JetBlue, United, Copa, Caribbean Airlines… they all fly there! There are no shortage of ways to get to Trini.

What is the Weather like?… Hot! In the tropics, there are only 2 seasons. The rainy season and the dry season. Carnival takes place during the dry season, so the weather tends to be hot and relatively dry (compared to the humidity levels of the rainy season). Although it’s the dry season there may still be some rainfall here and there but those showers shouldn’t last more than an hour or so.

Although Carnival is only technically 2 days, the carnival festivities happen for months prior, with the first fetes (carnival parties) starting as early as the day after Christmas. Because of this, I would suggest spending at least a week in Trinidad so you can enjoy some of these fetes (I’ll let you know which are the most popular later on in this article). It’s not a bad idea to land in Trinidad some time around the Tuesday or Wednesday before carnival, that way you can get your bearings and start getting used to the “fete land”.

 

2) What Kind of Music Do They Play?

 

Speaking of the “fete land” (which was a popular song in Trinidad a few years ago)  the music played in Trinidad for carnival is called Soca(pronounced “So-Kah”).

Image result for machel montano
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Photo credit: thetropixs.com

I personally think you’ll have a much better time if you knew some of the most popular songs ahead of time, but others may disagree with me. In my opinion, if you know these songs ahead of time, you’ll be in a better position to get the most out of them.

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Photo credit: IG | @kesthebandofficial

 

If you want to take my advice and learn some, I’d recommend following DJ Private Ryan on Sound Cloud. Around November/December he publishes a mix of all the best soca to be released so far, and then he does an updated one a couple weeks before Carnival. Listen to these mixes while at work or at the gym and by the time you touch Trini you’ll be primed and ready to go! If you want to go even further in your music research, frequent the Youtube channel “Julians Promos” in the months leading up to carnival. Every year he has a playlist of all the latest songs as soon as they come out. You can see which ones are the most popular by which have the most views.

If, after listening, you realize you don’t like soca, then Trinidad Carnival isn’t for you. You’re not going to hear any hip hop, dancehall or reggae. Just pure unadulterated, non-stop SOCA!

 

3) Where Is The Best Place To Stay?

 

All though carnival festivities take place all around Port of Spain, if your goal for your week in Trinidad is to party as much as possible and you’re not that interested in doing any tourist related activities, then without doubt the most convenient location to stay is in the region of Port of Spain called Woodbrook.

You will be within walking distance of a lot of fetes. Popular fete venues like The Hasley Crawford Stadium, The Queens Park Oval, Nelson Mandela Park, and St Mary’s College Gounds are all 5-15 mins away by foot. You will also be able to walk to meet your Mas Band on Carnival Monday and Tuesday as many popular carnival bands and j’ouvert bands assemble in or close to Woodbrook.

Essentially, you’ll be able to walk to food, walk to drink and walk to almost anything carnival related. No rental vehicle or taxi driver required for the most part.

Without doubt my recommendation as the best location in Woodbrook is going to be the high rise condo buildings called “One Woodbrook Place”. It has the perfect location and depending on the floor you’re on, absolutely KILLER views!

Image result for one woodbrook place
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When it comes to carnival accommodations you cannot get more convenient than here. The major downside however is that almost none of the available units are on airbnb, so if you want to stay here, you may have to contact a local realtor. Since this is a condo building, each unit has an individual owner who may or may not be renting it at carnival time. Contact real estate firms such as Terra Caribbean or Tucker Real Estate and ask about availability as soon as possible.

Image result for one woodbrook place view
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If you procrastinated, or you just don’t like staying in private residences then you have 2 choices.

1) A guest house: there are a few in Woodbrook – I have neither been inside any of them, nor do I know people who have, so I cannot recommend any by name, but if you look on a site like Expedia you will find them.

2) A hotel: Just make sure it’s close to the Savannah.

 

What’s the Savannah?

The Savannah is the cultural epicenter of carnival. In addition to the food stalls and independent shops that line parts of it during carnival time, the Savannah also hosts a variety of carnival related events in the months before the big show. Most important about the Savannah however, is that it is the main judging point for carnival bands (will explain in more detail later), and it has the biggest “stage” for masqueraders to cross in their costumes. If you hear any soca song talking about “the stage”, the Savannah Stage is the stage they’re referring to.

Although the Savannah is the cultural epicenter of Carnival, unless you’re there to try some local dishes, or you’re crossing the stage on Monday and Tuesday, you probably won’t be there at any other point.

It doesn’t make much sense to make it the “point of interest” that you stay closest to when looking for carnival accommodations, because you’re either going to have to hire a car to take you everywhere, OR, you’ll have to walk 30 mins or more to get to fetes/carnival band assembly points. Hence why i suggest Woodbrook.

If however you’re looking for hotels there, then my recommendations for hotels around the Savannah would be The Kapok hotel, The Hilton Hotel, or The Normandie Hotel. The Kapok and the Hilton are both visible from the Savannah, and The Normandie is about a 10 minute walk from the Savannah itself. If you stay at one of these you can get away with walking to a lot of activities, although the walk would be much much…MUCH longer since all of these hotels are on the “far side” of the Savannah.  (Walking from Kapok Hotel to Woodbrook would be somewhere around 30mins, but Hilton or Normandie to Woodbrook is at least an hour walk).

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If you go any further away from the Savannah than these 3 hotels, (especially to the swanky Hyatt Hotel on the Port of Spain waterfront), you’re going to end up having to hire a driver to take you everywhere. And that my friend is money you could have been using on fetes instead.

If you don’t mind hiring a driver to take you to and from everywhere, then other then these 3 hotels, some nice hotels would be The Hyatt Hotel, Cascadia Hotel, Radisson Hotel, Courtyard by Marriott, The Chancellor Hotel or any other hotel that is within a mile or 2 of The Savannah/ Woodbrook.

 

4) Fetes! Yes! Which Fetes Do I Go To?

 

Fetes are the pre-carnival parties and concerts that take place to help get you ready for carnival.

Fetting is one of the absolute best things about Carnival, hands down!  It’s where you’ll hear all the new music and see the best bands and artistes perform their songs.

When it comes to music, there are 3 types of Fetes:

1) DJ Only
-Only DJ’s and no live performances.

2) Live Performances
-Mainly DJ’s, but there are also live performances. The singers sing with a background track. No live bands

3) Full Concert
-There are full live bands and concert performances, with DJ’s playing sets in between the live bands. These fetes tend to be similar to the music festivals you’d find in the states.

In addition to the music structure, there are alllllllllll types of fetes:

Fancy exclusive fetes
– You have to know someone to be able to buy a ticket

J’ouvert fetes
– It gets dutty! Paint, Powder, Water, VIBES!

Drinks inclusive fetes
– Free alcohol and chasers

Food inclusive fetes
– You get a variety of local foods for free

All inclusive fetes
– Free food and Free alcohol

Cooler fetes
– You bring your own drinks in a cooler

Boat ride fetes
– Pretty self explanatory

There is even a fete thrown by the Trinidad and Tobago Army

You name it, there is a fete for that, so during your week of fetting, you’ll want to experience a variety.

Make sure you experience each these:

  • A J’ouvert fete
  • An inclusive fete (either drinks inclusive, food inclusive or all inclusive)
  • A fete where there are live bands performing (specifically, a fete where Machel Montano is performing).

Side note: AS SOON AS you buy your round trip plane ticket to Trinidad you’re going to want to immediately start planning your fete schedule (yup that’s a thing) and start buying your fete tickets. These things sell out fast and you don’t want to be caught outside the party paying extra to scalpers (re-sellers). Go to the Trini Jungle Juice Carnival Eventspage and click on the link to the upcoming Trinidad carnival. There is a calendar list of every fete as well as a description of the fete and a link to the website that sells tickets to that fete. Some of these fetes sell out as early as the November before Carnival. So I’m going to reiterate, it’s very important that you do your fete schedule as soon as you buy your plane ticket.

When it comes to buying the tickets, some fetes only sell physical tickets that you have to buy from locations around Trinidad (or exclusively from the promoters) and other fetes sell their tickets online. Since this is your first time, I’m going to recommend a few party promoters and specific fetes that I’m pretty sure you will enjoy. All of these tickets can be bought online.

I HIGHLY recommend any party thrown by the group “Caesar’s Army”. You’ll have a good time in any fete they throw. Additionally, look for fetes by Tribe, Candy Coated Events, or Scorch. They are all highly reputable fete promoters who put a lot of time effort and organization into their events.

In the week before carnival, there are multiple fetes every day, it’s entirely possible to go to 3 fetes every single day:

Fete 1: 4am-10am

Fete 2: 1pm – 8pm

Fete 3: 10pm – 5am

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Photo of couple with wristbands from every fete they went to.

I would definitely recommend AGAINST that. You WILL burn out, and your body will betray you! Sticking to a schedule of 1 fete a day is a great pace for a beginner. You will get the experience but also ample sleep. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking you HAVE to party 24/7. Nah Bruh… get some good rest in there too. That way you enjoy the party to the fullest and you’re not a sleep deprived zombie. Not enjoying the fetes because you’re too tired, sounds like a waste of your hard earned money to me…

The following is a list of 11  fetes that I recommend, all happening from the Wednesday to the Sunday before Carnival

(The week before carnival is called carnival week, that Wednesday is called Carnival Wednesday and that Sunday, Carnival Sunday):

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Photocredit: IG | @jefferscity

1) Punchy Wednesday

 

  • Carnival Wednesday Night
  • Cooler Fete
  • Starts at 10pm
  • Live Bands
  • Dress in comfortable shoes
  • You can walk to this if you stay in woodbrook
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Photocredit: IG | @archeology79

2) A.M. Beach

 

  • Carnival Thursday Morning
  • Breakfast Beach Party
  • Starts at 3am
  • Dress for a beach party
  • All Inclusive (food and drink)
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit: IG | @machelmontano

3) Tribe Ignite

 

  • Carnival Thursday Night
  • Starts at 10pm
  • Live Bands
  • Dress in comfortable shoes
  • Drinks inclusive (alcohol and chaser)
  • You can walk to this if you stay in woodbrook
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Photo credit: IG | @skkanme

4) Sunrise Breakfast Party

 

  • Carnival Friday Morning
  • Starts at 4am
  • Live performances
  • All inclusive (Alcohol and Food)
  • Dress swanky
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit: IG | @islandbox

5) _uck Work

 

  • Carnival Friday Afternoon
  • Pool and Cabana Party
  • Starts at 3pm
  • All inclusive (food and alcohol)
  • Swimwear only
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit IG | @machelmontano

6) Blue Range Cooler Fete

 

  • Carnival Friday Night
  • Cooler fete – Bring your own alcohol in a cooler
  • Starts at 10pm
  • Live Bands
  • Dress in comfortable shoes
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit IG | @caesarsarmy

7) A.M. Bush

 

  • Highly recommend***
  • Carnival Saturday Morning
  • J’ouvert Party
  • Starts at 2am
  • This is a paint and water party. Wear clothes you don’t mind being stained permanently.
  • Partial All inclusive (unlimited alcohol, limited food)
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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8) Suits

 

  • Carnival Saturday Morning
  • Starts at 7am
  • A Boat Party
  • Cooler fete – Bring your own drinks in a cooler
  • Dress in swimwear
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit IG | @phoenix0910

9) Soca Brainwash

 

  • Highly recommend***
  • Carnival Saturday Morning
  • Starts at 11am
  • All inclusive (alcohol and food)
  • Live performances
  • There is generally a theme every year. Dress in theme.
  • You can walk to this if you stay in woodbrook
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Photo credit IG | @theottfather

10) ValeVibe

 

  • Carnival Sunday Morning
  • Breakfast Party
  • Starts at 4am
  • Food included
  • Cooler fete- bring your own drinks in a cooler.
  • You’ll need to hire a taxi to take you to and from this fete
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Photocredit IG | @alexismchin

11) Soaka Street Festival

 

  • Honorable Mention**
  • Carnival Sunday Morning
  • J’ouvert Fete
  • Starts at 4am
  • Food inclusive
  • Wear something that you don’t mind being stained permanently
  • You will be wet with a water hose this entire fete.
  • It is extremely difficult to get tickets to this event. But the vibe is incredible here, so if you can convince a committee member to sell you a ticket you’ll have a great time.
  • You can walk to this if you stay in Woodbrook

An important thing to note is that a lot of fetes now sell separate male and female tickets so that they can control the male to female ratio at their party. Yet another reason to buy your tickets early. More than likely the male tickets will sell out first because there will be less of them. “Scorch” was one of the pioneers of this trend. In addition to this, a lot of these fetes require you to “request” a ticket.  You cannot simply buy it online, you need to select a committee member and write them a message about why you’re requesting a ticket. Only after your request is approved, are you allowed to purchase one. These committee members have been known to request your social media handles so that they can evaluate you before selling you a ticket. If you’re a good looking female buying tickets for you and your girlfriends, this process may be easy. But if you’re a guy trying to go to these fetes with your boys…you may not be successful.

5) How do I find a driver for hire?

 

There are 4 ways you can find a taxi driver to take you around for carnival

1) If you’ve used one of the taxi drivers at the airport to take you to your accommodation, you can ask them if they’re willing to take you around for the week. Some may agree and some may pass on the offer. Please note however, that airport taxi drivers tend to be very expensive, so if you use one of these guys all week, they may be severely over charging you for their services.

2) Ask for a recommendation from the Hotel you’re staying at. They may have specific drivers that they work with regularly. Additionally, even if the hotel doesn’t, Trinidad is a small place so its likely hotel staff members may know taxi drivers willing to take the job.

3) Uber no longer operates in Trinidad, but there are similar ride share apps. One is called TT RideShare and the other called Drop TT. Unfortunately, according to several users, there are not enough drivers on these apps to support the excess carnival demand. However, according to those users, you should use the app at some point during the morning/day when demand is low, then once you get a driver, ask for the drivers personal number and hire him or her directly. If the initial driver you get is unwilling, repeat until you find a willing driver to hire. This method came highly recommended by several Trinidadians as “the best way to find a driver in Trinidad”.

4) Use a carnival concierge provider like We Plan You Jam or Carnival Info. They have access to a host of drivers. (More on carnival concierge services later in this article).

6) Which Mas Band Do I Play With?

 

Before I answer that, let me give you some background info…

In Trinidad, the act of wearing a carnival costume while dancing in the streets is called “playing mas”.

A “mas band” is an organization that designs, makes, and sells carnival costumes.

Mas bands will generally have a theme each year, then design various costumes that fit this theme. Each different costume is called a “section”. So a mas band is made up of multiple sections and you choose which section of the band you want to be in.

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Photo credit: IG | @jason.portraits

In addition to the costume, a lot of the most popular bands pride themselves on providing an all inclusive experience. Therefore, in addition to the costume, the fee you pay also gets you:

  • A goodie bag with “free” stuff
  • Multiple meals on Monday and Tuesday
  • Snacks
  • Unlimited alcohol

All of the popular bands will also have “wee wee trucks” (trucks carrying fancy porta potties) that follow the band, so you don’t have to go off route to find a restroom. Additionally, if you’re tired of walking, and you just want to sit for a while, some bands have buses that follow, so you can take a break and sit without the band leaving you behind.

Playing mas can cost you anywhere between US$250 and US$2,500 depending on the band, the costume, and your gender (male costumes tend to be cheaper than female costumes).

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Photo credit: IG | @jason.portraits

Which band to play with?… well that depends. Carnival is actually a competition. The mas bands are competing to win the title of “band of the year”. This title is generally given to the band with the best designed and highest quality costumes. HOWEVER, these days a few of the most popular bands have decided that they don’t care about the competition and they avoid a lot of the judging points. So while most bands may go through all of Port of Spain, these other ones do not, they stick to Woodbrook and the surrounding areas.

So to answer your question, if you want to play with the band that won “Band of The Year” in 2019, then “The Lost Tribe” is your band. The Lost Tribe has great costumes and a great crowd. But beware, The Lost Tribe is an “alternative” mas band of sorts. While other popular bands generally have designs that are basically glorified bikinis, The Lost Tribe puts a lot of effort to design more unique costumes. So even though the costumes are also bikini based, there is a lot less “nakedness” in this band.

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Photo credit: IG | @nadyakshah

If you don’t care about the competition aspect (most of us don’t) and you just want to shake your half naked ass in an elaborate feather lined bikini, then the most popular bands for that are, Tribe, Bliss and Yuma. Tribe being the biggest most established one.

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Photo credit: IG | @siriandavis_

There are A LOT of carnival bands, and each offers something for everyone, but if you are in the 21-40 age range and you want to play in a band with other sexy people in your age group, then these are the bands you want to be in. One problem you may encounter however, is that Tribe tends to be an exclusive band. The majority of the registration in the band happens through committee members. Only if a section is still available after that process will they put it on the open market. Despite this however, you can use the website Fine ah Band to buy a costume from someone who is selling theirs because they can no longer make it for Carnival (you can also buy sold out fete tickets on this site).

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Photo credit: IG | @anthmauphoto

A Lot of Trinidadians will have strong opinions on which of these bands are better, but to be quite honest, as long as you’re with your friends, you’ll have a good time in any of them, so you don’t have to jump through Tribe’s hoops just to have some fun. (Tribe IS the largest of these three though, so infer from that what you will).

Need some more help trying to figure out which band to go with? Check out this article.

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Photo credit: IG | @k_corbin

Band Launch Season” (the time of year when mas bands show off their new costumes for the upcoming carnival) tends to be around July/August. More than 5 of the most popular bands, including Tribe, Bliss and The Lost Tribe, showcase their new costumes at a joint event called “Festival of The Bands”. You can find out the date for this event by following the social media accounts of Tribe, Bliss or The Lost Tribe.

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Photo credit: IG | @nessytg

Once this event has happened, pick the costume you like. Registration will open a few days/weeks after this event, so once registration opens you’ll want to get yours done FAST (just like with fetes, these things sell out fast). You will be required to put a down payment on your costume when you register and the remainder will be due when you pick up your costume in Trinidad.

Once you pick up your costume, included in your package will be instructions on where to find the band on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. As well as other pertinent information related to playing mas with that band.

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Photo credit: IG | @nadyakshah

Pro-tip: Download the app “D Junction”. It has the GPS location of many major bands and will help you locate your mas band on Carnival Monday and Tuesday – especially if you oversleep and miss meeting them at the assembly point in the morning..

7) OK, If that’s Mas…then what’s J’ouvert?

 

J’ouvert (pronounced: Jew-vay) marks the beginning of the carnival festivities.

It kicks off at 4am on Carnival Monday. But there are no pretty costumes here. Nope, not at all. J’ouvert is all about oil and mud and paint and powder

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Photo credit: IG | @jason.portraits

There are 2 ways to do J’ouvert, and I don’t think I can recommend one over the other:

1) Take a trip to downtown Port of Spain to a place called South Quay.

There is a j’ouvert competition there. You will see all of the traditional j’ouvert characters and costumes, including my personal favorite, the fire breathing blue devil. Going this route is a complete cultural experience, and for that reason I recommend it. You’ll need to hire a taxi driver to take you there and pick you back up. Please note, that the chances of you being pick pocketed etc, will definitely rise if you go into downtown Port of Spain. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t go, but just as you would be aware of those sticky fingered street children in Paris, you should be aware of your surroundings in Port of Spain.

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Photo credit: IG | @jason.portraits

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Photo credit: IG | @jason.portraits

2) Join a J’ouvert band like “red antz”, “dirty dozen” or “yellow devils”.

All of those bands assemble around 3am in the Woodbrook area, and they are all drinks inclusive. The band provides ample paint and powder, as well as snacks, “wee wee” trucks, etc. so that you can revel in the j’ouvert festivities the right way. J’ouvert wraps up around 9am or so, so you can make your way back to your place, bathe thoroughly and get ready for the carnival monday “pretty mas”.

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Photo credit: IG | @limejouvert

Pro-tip: Before you leave your house cover yourself head to toe with baby oil or Vaseline. This will make it much easier to wash the paint and mud off as it won’t get stuck to your skin as badly. Without it you will be discolored for days.

8) Bago?

 

After Carnival, you’re going to need a cool down.

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Photo credit: IG | @chandramaharaj

A trip to Tobago is a very popular option. Round trip tickets from Trinidad to Tobago cost about US$50. But don’t procrastinate on buying these. Even though there is a flight leaving every hour, these flights get booked up quickly on ash Wednesday (the day after carnival) as everyone is trying to get over there to relax on the beach. I have a friend who once bought his ash Wednesday ticket to Tobago, before he even bought his flight to go down to Trinidad in the first place.

Tobago is extremely tourist friendly, so I won’t bother going into any detail about how to plan that trip. You should be able to work that out on your own pretty easily.

If you don’t have the ability to head to Tobago for a few days, then consider a 1 day trip “Down De Islands” instead.

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Photo credit: IG | @playing_hooky_868

When a Trini talks about “Down De Islands” (DDI), they’re referring to the mini islands off the northwest coast of Trinidad. Spending time on the remote beaches found there is a popular day activity for boat owners. You can plan a day trip with a group like HikeNation. They will take you on the trip with some snacks, some finger foods and a cooler full of beers so you can recover from your previous days of drinking… with more drinking(that’s the Trinidadian way).

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Photo credit: IG | @playing_hooky_868

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Photo credit: IG | @playing_hooky_868

9) Can’t I Just Hire Someone to do all this for me?

 

Yes! Yes you definitely can.

A company like The LX Experience – run by Howard University Alumn Aaron Humphries, will take all of the guesswork out of your carnival planning. Just like you would tour Europe with a company such as Trafalgar or Europtours.com, for a single fee The LX Experience will take you everywhere you need to go.

Their full service package includes:

– Round trip flight from JFK

– Accommodation for 7 nights

– Ground transportation

– 7 catered dinners

– Fete tickets

– A carnival costume

– A j’ouvert costume

– Day trip to Tobago including flight

Spots are extremely limited with LX (less than 50 people each carnival) so if you’re interested contact them to book ASAP.

In addition to The LX Experience, you can also reach out to We Plan You Jam , Carnival info or Soca Islands as they provide similar services.

Check Out This Video!

 

Did you zone out while reading this?

Would you rather watch a cute Filipino girl tell you just about everything I said in this article?

Check out this vid my friend Kat made!

 

So What Have We Learned?

 

Accommodation:

If you stay in Woodbrook you will spend a lot less money hiring cars to take you around because you will be within walking distance of a lot of events (including the carnival parade itself)

 

Fetes:

Once you’ve bought your plane ticket, immediately make your fete schedule (recommend 1 fete a day). Then buy your tickets early or you’ll be paying more to scalpers at the door.

 

Costume:
Pick a mas band and keep track of their website so you will know when the new costumes are revealed and when registration opens. Once it opens put your down payment on your costume asap.

 

Cool Down:

Head over to Tobago after carnival to enjoy a couple days of relaxation on some beautiful beaches. If you don’t have the time to head over to Tobago for multiple days, a day trip “down de islands” is a great alternative.

Awesome! That’s it! You now have everything you need to know to start planning your Trinidad Carnival adventure! See you on de road!

Got any other useful planning tips or have questions about anything? Put them in the comments section below. 

 

 

This Article was written by our resident Trini and BroBasket Chief Sexiness Officer: Kenneth Connell

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