Carnival Season is one of the most celebratory party seasons of the year where there is nothing short of lush soca music, rum punch, sun kissed skin and whining bodies running wild. After Trinidad and Tobago, and Rio de Janeiro’s massive carnivals in February comes the island of Jamaica’s Bacchanal happening post Easter weekend (April 20th-24th this year). If you missed the other carnivals it’s not too late to trot on over to Jamaica to experience the fun, so we put together a list of the hottest and safest places to fete this year for the last-minute revelers.
There are two international airports on the isle but flying into Norman Manley International Airport near the capital of Kingston is your best bet since Kingston is where most of the bacchanal events take place for the weekend. If hotels are your choice of stay for the weekend, then check out a section of Kingston called New Kingston where the most reputable stays include Spanish Court (from $259), Courtleigh (from $263), The Jamaica Pegasus ($182) and Courtyard by Marriott Kingston (from $279). AirBnB is also a great option for the weekend if you plan on feting sun up to sun down and want your own privacy without the crowds.
If you’re not familiar with Jamaica then getting around may seem like a hassle. The best option for out of towners is to either arrange with their hotels who have contracted drivers to take you and pick you up anywhere you want or link with separate travel companies. Some reputable travel companies include JUTA, Jamaica Union of Travelers Association Ltd, ( [email protected]; 1876-926-1537) and Avalanche Marketing & Sales ([email protected]; 1876-816-5050).
Thursday April 20th
Weeks before the official carnival weekend, major soca infused events start popping up on the island but note that the weekend of is the most anticipated on the calendar. Fresh off your flight starting Thursday April 20th set Afloat on Jamaica’s flagship Soca cruise as your first official fete of the season. Indulge in wave of excitement from 5:00-9:00pm with music by DJ Richie Ras and JW of Trinidad as you sail away on the Kingston Harbour. Later that night head on over to Tribe Thursdays, the biggest collaboration between two of the most popular carnival bands, Tribe and Xaymaca in New Kingston. If you’re looking to hit up one of Kingston’s famed street affairs, stop by Frenchmen’s Blocko street party (email [email protected]), the original soca street party Thursday at 9pm with music from Trinidad’s most famed soca starter, DJ Private Ryan, and musical guest surprises to come. If you’re not ready to head in yet, no worries! As soon as you close eyes for the night you’ll be waking back up on Friday at 4:00am to head to Kingston’s Devon’s House for the Illusions Black 2 Blue Cooler Breakfast Party feting as the sun comes up with all inclusive drinks, breakfast and party fun.
Friday April 21st
After the Illusions breakfast fete, later that Friday evening the Scorch Duck Work day cooler fete hosted by Scorch Magazine held at Hope Botanical Gardens from 5-10pm is the ultimate after work Friday evening turn up. Scorch magazine in Trinidad is the go to source for keeping up with the hottest events and all things pop culture in the Caribbean, so note that Scorch Duck Work is one to stop by.
Saturday April 22nd
Caesars Army A.M. Bush taking place in St. Catherine from 2:00-8:00am is the ultimate jouvert paint party. Jouvert is associated with the emancipation of slavery which allowed slaves the freedom to participate in carnival starting in year 1838 and now the celebration is still glorified today as a worldwide expression of freedom. This year at Caesars Army A.M. Bush expect performances by Viking of Soca- Bunji Garlin and Shal Marshall. Let this be a warning that you will get body paint and colorful smoke bombs, along with rum and possibly other bubbly liquids splattered on you in celebration so make sure your ready for party war if you take it to the bush.
However, if that’s not your jazz there’s an elite breakfast party hosted by Sunnation starting 4am which happens to be the chicest event of the weekend full of fashion, foodie eats and fab entertainment. Expect an array of delicious inclusive international cuisine inspired from America, South America, Cuba, Jamaica, Asia and more, along with premium drinks all included in your ticket purchase. Other than the official carnival road march, Sunnation breakfast party is the most anticipated event of the weekend so step out in your Saturday’s best outfit and party the morning away until its time to get rest for the nights annual Bazodee soca experience at 7pm.
Bazodee (email: [email protected]) is an all-inclusive soca experience, also with an extensive range of food, as well as premium drinks available with ticket purchase. Decor is key at this party as guest show up only to fete in style. DJs this year include Back to Basics, and Renaissance with performance by Peter Ram from Barbados and friends.
Sunday April 23rd
Bacchanal Jamaica Carnival Road March beginning at 9:00am at Mas Camp located at the national stadium is the greatest event of them all as masqueraders start preparing with carnival makeup and costume preparation at dawn to get ready for the road. Depending on which band you decide to jump with (the group of carnival masqueraders in similar themed costumes that have a music and inclusive drink truck for the road, providing breakfast, lunch, air conditioned lounges, makeup touch ups, all the water hydration needed and grants access into the roach march) has a lot to do with how fly you may look on the road. One band to look out for this year is new comer Xaymaca offering a variety of 9 different themed costumes to choose from including a $275 T-shirt package that may be the best for last minute revelers.
See you on di road!