Some of the best times I’ve had were traveling for a carnival. The music, food, fetes (parties) and pure joy are worth the planning, long road trips and plane rides. There are so many carnivals to choose from and now is a perfect time to start planning. If you have never been to a carnival, I suggest starting with a state side experience to get a taste then decide if an overseas trip is for you. Many states have carnivals, in some cities like Chicago, LA, Boston, and Atlanta. If you want the tropical vacation you can visit Jamaica, Bahamas, St. Marteen and so much more. The bacchanal (nice time) is endless. Each carnival has a website giving all the details including how to be a part of the festival from music competitions, J’overt and how to get into a beautiful costume. Hashtags make it even easier on social sites leading you right to bands and party promotions, you can plan your entire trip months in advance so you won’t miss a thing.
Here are five carnivals I suggest you start with.
New York City’s Labor Day Parade
Brooklyn, New York hosts a compact weekend of a whole carnival season which would last about a month in an island. With a large population of West Indian residents, it’s pretty close to the real thing, and you get a little taste of every Island. I will say, with the people living in NYC plus the visitors, it is a lot of people, if you are not in a band it would be more enjoyable spectating. 2017 will be the 50th anniversary of the parade and will be a special year to visit.
With Florida’s island like weather, Miami carnival gives you the feel of a tropical getaway without leaving the country. There are many outdoor venues, so the fetes are massive and quite epic. Many visits with days and nights mapped out around the parties. With the relaxed setting, it is easy to join and be a part of the bands without registering (costumes are more fun). Let’s not forget about the beaches, if that alone doesn’t convince you, I’m not sure what will. However beautiful Miami is, the carnival is in October, on Columbus weekend, which is during hurricane season. I would suggest when making arrangements book flexible fights and such just in case.
The city of Toronto, Canada alone is beautiful, coupled with the people and culture, it is a tasty concoction. The men aren't bad to look at either. So now we are moving out of the country but still close to home. This carnival is not during a holiday weekend so each year is different but is typically the end of July to the beginning of August, so the summer weather is close to perfect.
Barbados Crop Over
This is where it gets real, Barbados, the home of Rihanna. The Crop Over celebration is two months long all leading up to The Grand Kadooment, the actual parade, on the first Monday of August. The fetes are grand and sexy, the food is delicious and the music is fun and has its own twist. It should be easy to handle for a Carnival virgin, most of the events are close to one area with many hotels and beautiful beaches.
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival
The mother of all carnivals lives in Trinidad and Tobago taking place the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, (it unofficially begins when Christmas ends). If you want to experience the authentic bacchanal, plan for next year and you won’t regret it. This carnival, being one of the first of the year sets the pace, anywhere you go after, the music will be playing and the energy will be matched. Many of the traditions originated in T&T so I suggest going to the home of it all. However, once there, it is nonstop, there is no time to rest. Sleep on your way to the next fete. Make sure you eat well because the food is one of the best parts of being there and if you can, hop over to Tobago after for the cool down.
Carnival, no matter where you go, is a time to be free and live. It is a time to try new things, get dressed up and be happy. Let us know your favorite carnival experience or which one you would love to go.
Happy carnival and safe travels!
Article by Kristie Fraser
Blog: In Her Own