Yes, we’re having Trinidad Carnival talk already. Smart stilettos plan ahead and since T&T’s massive carnival is in February, we’re giving you the information you need now to do just that! Use these next two months to map out your flight, lodging, costumes, fetes and most important, how you will train your body to survive several days of non-stop jumping and wining. You may have done Toronto’s Caribana, Houston’s Carifest, Barbados’ Cropover, and NYC’s Labor Day parade, but all those combined don’t come close to Trinidad’s explosive celebration. T&T’s carnival is held annually on the Monday and Tuesday (February 8th & 9th) before Ash Wednesday. More than just a two-day street parade, carnival season officially starts on December 26th with a full schedule of all-inclusive fetes, soca performances and preliminary steel pan competitions that lead up to the main event. Known to have the most colorful costumes and exuberant people, this is by far the largest celebration in the Caribbean, so act fast if you want in.
6 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TRINIDAD CARNIVAL
Each band brings a unique sound to the Trinidad and Tobago streets. For February’s festivities, there will be 10 bands floating down the road for hours, music bumping as the crowd dances to the infectious riddims. Carnival bands must be booked months in advance, mapping out their production takes time. Traditionally, the festival has been associated with Calypso music, however, recently, Soca has replaced Calypso as the most wanted carnival sound. Don’t knock it til you try it!
As the bands makes their way down the street, they usually have a huge crowd of men and women surrounding the float decked in colorful costumes. Each costume goes with a specific float and most are very expensive due to intricate and elaborate detail. Our advice to you if you want to have an authentic experience and be outfitted right—link up with a band ASAP and put in an order for your gear now. Prices range from $200-$800 and typically Mas Camps distribute costumes a few days before the parade.
In addition to the vibrant costumes, stick-fighting and limbo competitions are also important components of Carnival, dancing fused into both, of course. Speaking of dancing, it’s one of the main reasons why people participate in Caribbean carnivals! We’re warning y’all, Trini’s get down, don’t feel bad if you can’t keep up.
Fetes are parties that last all day and night long. Attend as many as your wallet, schedule, and liver will allow. As your booking your airfare and figuring out your costumes, we advise you purchase your fete tickets in advance too. Fetes usually take place the week before carnival. Oh, and we can’t forget about J’ouvert. It is considered the to be the official start of the Carnival street-parade celebrations. J’ouvert takes place on the night before Carnival Monday as people dance through the roads ’til the sun comes up! For more information, visit www.gotrinidadandtobago.com. February is around the corner!
5. WHERE TO STAY
For stiletto-clad travelers, lodging in style is non-negotiable. Our pick for you is the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, which is located at the new Port of Spain International Waterfront Center. Our head-heel-in-charge stayed here when she visited Trinidad and Tobago a few years back and highly recommends it and their in-house spa. Other prime picks include Kapok, The Carlton of Savannah, and Hilton Trinidad.
6. SURVIVAL TIPS
If you’re new to this carnival thing, pace yourself. Remember to stay hydrated, with water that is. For every alcoholic drink you guzzle, follow with at least 8 ounces of water, dehydration sucks. Getting adequate rest in between all the partying you’ll be doing is imperative too. Also, don’t forget to make safety a priority. You will be in an area that you are unfamiliar with so always keep close tabs on yourself and your belongings. If you need to tinkle, the buddy system isn’t a bad idea. And finally, to prevent sunstroke, make use of cool-zones, work a brim into your look, and take a break if you begin to feel fatigued. For more useful tips, go here.