So you’re looking to attend Trinidad Carnival? It’s one of the biggest and best Carnivals in the world. If you’ve never been you need to be prepared! Here are my tips for attending Trinidad Carnival.
When Is Trinidad Carnival?
Trinidad Carnival always takes place the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Here are those dates for the next few years:
2021: February 15th and February 16th
2022: February 28th and March 1st
2023: February 20th and February 21st
2024: February 12th and February 13th
2025: March 3rd and March 4th
Save Your Money Because Carnival Ain’t Cheap
Attending Trinidad Carnival and getting the full experience, fetes and playing Mas, flights and hotels can easily add up to $5,000 or more depending on how fancy you are. So start saving now so you won’t get hit with everything at once.
Do Your Own Makeup and Buy Face Gems
One of the biggest expenses of Carnival is getting your makeup done professionally. Instead of spending extra money on this I bought face gems to enhance my look. This saved me a lot of money and was super easy to apply. Honestly it is very hot on di road and you will sweat so to me I decided it was best to save money by eliminating this expense. If you choose to get your makeup done know you need to make an appointment immediately. Artists book well in advance and you’ll most likely have a 4AM appointment!
Book Your Flight As Soon As They Go on Sale
Flights go on sale via Caribbean Airlines a year in advance but if you’re flying JetBlue you’ll have to wait until 6 months before. If you purchase your ticket when Caribbean Airlines releases their schedule you can score tickets from Miami for as low as $200 round trip. However, if you wait you can easily spend $700-$1,000 or more depending on where you are flying from.
When Should You Arrive in Trinidad for Carnival?
While Carnival is technically only two days there are plenty of Carnival festivities happening from even the day after Christmas. To enjoy it to the max I recommend arriving the Wednesday prior to Carnival Monday & staying until the Sunday after. You won’t stay in Trinidad this whole time though, you’ll want to head to Tobago on Wednesday after Carnival Tuesday. If you have the PTO to swing it you can even arrive the Monday before Carnival Monday for the fullest experience possible.
What Do You Do the Days Before Carnival?
There are tons of fetes (parties) to attend. When I say tons I mean you can go to 3 a day if you’re about that life! Ones not to be missed are Soca Brainwash, Beach House Cooler, Beach House All Inclusive, A.M. Bush, Vale & jouvert being my favorite! Global Carnivalist is a great resource for finding out what days each fete is on, costs and the links to purchase tickets. Prepare yourself because these fetes aren’t cheap, remember that $5,000 budget I mentioned earlier? Some fetes cost $250, yes $250 for one party but keep in mind most are all inclusive of not only alcohol but food as well.
Where Should You Stay for Trinidad Carnival?
Any hotel or Airbnb of your choice near the Savannah. This is because this is where all the main events are near. Believe me you do not want to be far when traffic is insane after each fete. People rave about the Hyatt and other big box hotels include the Hilton and Marriott!
Hire a Driver for Your Time in Trinidad
You can get a recommendation from your hotel or Airbnb host. Our driver has several trusted employees & I highly recommend him. His name is Mark & his contact info is +1 (868) 739-9136. Another recommendation from a friend is Sheldon +1 (868) 681-7616. Our driver took us to/from the airport, every fete and anywhere else we wanted to go. Expect to pay about $50-$100 a day for a driver for up to 4 passengers in your car. If you have a larger group you can get a driver with a mini bus.
Hire a Courier Service to Pick Up Your Costume
Depending on when you’re arriving to Trinidad you may not have time to pick up your costume on your sections designated day. If you’re like me you might have gone straight off the jumbo jet, straight from the airport to the fete! For a stress free arrival I hired Kasey’s Costumes Courier to handle my costume pick up. It was great to have one less thing to worry about and the service was exceptional!
How Do You Play Mas and What Does That Mean?
Playing Mas is when you wear a carnival costume and jump in the parade. You play Mas with a specific band who makes and sells you your carnival costume. These bands are all inclusive so you don’t just get a costume but goodie bags, meals on Monday & Tuesday, and unlimited alcohol. They even have a truck that follows along with porta potties.
I played Mas with Rogue, other bands include Tribe, Yuma, and Bliss. Playing Mas will cost you $500-$2,000 depending on if you’re front line or back line. You only wear your costume Tuesday, Monday you create or buy your own. I’m not creative so I bought my Monday wear from Vapzz By Kai. A lot of people hire a make up artist to do their make up on either or both days. However, I sweat a lot so instead I opted to just put some eye shadow on and used face gems to spruce up my attire.
Get Your Workout On- At Least Two Months Before Carnival
Trinidad Carnival requires some serious stamina. You will easily walk 12-20 miles a day so start those work outs now! Besides walking you’ll be jumping up and down and dancing for up to 12 hours straight! I personally completed Massy Aria’s 60 day challenge leading up to Carnival to prepare me.
Come Prepared on Di Road
Attending fetes and playing Mas is an all day event. You will get very little sleep and no time to re-charge your phone so bring everything you need. Ladies a fanny pack is a must, while Rogue, the band I played mas with did provide two in my goodie bag this isn’t a guarantee. You’ll want to bring a waterproof one for Jouvert but understand you might have to throw it away afterwards, so don’t get an expensive one.
Other important items are a portable battery pack for your phone, sunscreen, and comfortable shoes. I know a lot of women wear boots on the road but just make sure if you choose this option over sneakers that they are very comfortable ones. Also when I say sneakers, leave the Converse at home, you need shoes with great support and maybe even some Dr. Scholls.
Everyone should attend Trinidad Carnival at least once in their life. It is truly a bucket list trip. I’ll be attending Jamaica Carnival in April and can’t wait to share tips for it. Did you find this article on tips for attending Trinidad Carnival helpful? If so please share it!