It’s that time again! Carnival season!
After a whole year of waiting, the excitement about Trinidad Carnival is nearing its peak. You can hear it in the music. The music from Barbados Crop Over still lingers in the air and the reverence for the holidays have given way to some great smooth grooves and recent releases of more energetic Power Soca. Virgins and veterans alike have been asking me for advice on how to make the most of their Carnival trips and so I wanted to pass on some tips and point you towards some key resources to help you get ready.
6 Week Priorities
If you are planning to go to Trinidad Carnival, you should have three main things by now:
- A rental car
- Your costume
Rental cars are #1 because the demand far exceeds the supply and prices for rental cars are astronomical if you try to get one last-minute (especially if the vendor hears an American accent.) As tempting as it may be to leave transportation up to family or friends you may be staying with, having your own transport can be very liberating and allows visitors more opportunities to maximize your vacation time there. (Driving on the other side of the road is not as hard as you think it is.) Try Econo Car Rentals for some great deals. Carnival bands started their launches since August 2010 and many are already sold out! I would encourage you to organize your posse to decide on a band that still has room and reserve your costumes as soon as possible. There are not that many hotels in Port-of-Spain in comparison to other Caribbean nations, so if you are not staying with friends or family, it would be best to reserve a hotel room, guest house or room rental quickly.
Travel reservations would be #4. It is true that you get the best prices for your plane ticket if you bought them last year, but at this point you can still get great deals. Try online search engines or go directly to airlines such as Caribbean Airlines, American Airlines, or Delta to get the best deals. There are travel agencies that specialize in getting that hidden Carnival deal. Also, Caribbean Airlines, a carrier based in Trinidad, often adds last minute flights to meet the demand so you can still get great last-minute deals.
Events in Trinidad are different from those you may be used to in the US. They are more like concerts with huge sound systems, open areas, performances by live artists and a lot more crowd participation. That’s why we call them “fetes” and leave terms like “parties” and “clubs” to describe the smaller events that occur during the year. There are new fetes being added to the calendar every day with most concentrated on the 5 days before Carnival. This is the time to secure your tickets and save on advance purchase. Check out the resources listed below for details and recommendations and then contact Caribbean Tix Shoppe at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the tickets you need.
Trinidad Carnival is the ultimate test of stamina and endurance! You may have been to a fete in the US. Or maybe you’ve been to one of the bigger Carnivals for Labor Day or in Miami. Still, nothing compares to the concentration of events, distance traveled, and energy required at Trinidad Carnival. As you know, we are 2 weeks in to our *CARNIVAL COUNTDOWN Workout Series that is a hybrid of our three key classes that will get you ready for the jumping, waving, and misbehaving of Trini Carnival. Feel free to join us any weekend for one of our charged-up routines in Brooklyn and Queens. The truth is, however, that it will take more than a class per week to really get ready in the limited time left. Take advantage of the other classes we offer during the week in Brooklyn and put in at least an hour 3 times a week in order to really feel and see a difference. 6 weeks before Carnival, it may be better to focus on toning up than losing weight. For free exercises that you can also do at home check out SparkPeople for ideas on what you can do at home.
I can’t stress this enough: As important as it is to look your best for Carnival, this is not the time to break in new shoes!
Many fetes are held on open grounds that are uneven, full of grass or unpredictable. You will also be dancing into the wee hours for hours on end, and if you are having a sweet lime, you may want to keep going into spontaneous activities. Boots seem to be all the rage nowadays, although I find their popularity baffling. Boots used to be reserved for Carnival Queens of the Band or individual section leaders to complement their huge costumes. Nowadays, masqueraders are getting their own fancy footwear. Try sources such as Payless, Afro Chic, Neicy’s Custom Designs, Carnival Kicks, and Suga Rush Designs.
Here is a list of websites for you to get even more answers to your questions about Trinidad Carnival:
Go Trinidad & Tobogo ~ This website by the Tourist Board is a great start to get background information, booking info and a list of cultural events and fetes.
Trinidad Carnival Diary – This blog has become a key resource for many preparing for Carnival as Saucy provides lots of information about the events, music, and tips for Carnival preparation
Carnival Feteish – This is another great blog that features great links and the latest information about Carnival
Trini Jungle Juice – This great site is full of event listings and ratings, pictures, videos, links and more to all things Trinidadian. Check out Trini Jungle Juice TV also.
Island Mix– This is the source of a lot of the new soca music available online and on YouTube. Be sure to browse their their event listings and forums for some good info
TriniSoca – Learn more about the history of soca music, Trinidad, and Carnival through this site.
For advice on what not to do for Carnival, check out this article in Outlish Magazine by Karel Mc Intosh.
Look out for our next post about the cultural events of Carnival …
– Onya West, Founder/Director/Instructor