The Best Carnival Celebrations Around the World
By Rachel George
In the Caribbean, Carnival is a festival style celebration that originally led up to Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. That day is celebrated in the United States as Mardi Gras.
Carnival’s roots stem from African culture and Catholicism with the first modern-day Carnival parade taking place in Trinidad in the late 18th century. For years and years to follow, the Caribbean Islands have been notorious for connecting cultures and igniting this phenomenon of musical celebrations around the world. From sold out stadium venues to massive all night long outdoor extravaganzas, Carnival has become a huge event celebrated all over. Over time, the festivities have branched out from just being celebrated in February and March. Now, you can partake in Carnival year round.
If your goal is to attend a Carnival celebration, here are some of the best Carnival festivals around the world.
June 14-17, 2019
From sun up to sun down, experience soca music, sun, and the sea like no other at one of the island’s biggest summer carnival-style celebrations, Bermuda Heroes Weekend. Events include a parade of bands, the BHW Raft Up party, food-inclusive cruises and the unforgettable J’ouvert Celebration.
June 27-30, 2019
Skip out on all of your responsibilities and head to Hookie DC Weekend, the only Caribbean carnival in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Can you handle five events over four days? You can expect an outdoor pool party, the ultimate drinks inclusive J’ouvert, a parade and music from the best Soca DJs and artists from NYC, Miami and the Caribbeans.
July 10-16, 2019
Start Off St.Lucia Carnival with performances by Mr. Killa and Kisha Kay. “Put one leg in di air, Turn around & give dem a stare…. show de haters di back view!”
This year’s events will include a candy land experience with treats, cooler and bright colored outfits. Be careful ladies, you might run into St. Lucia’s Mr. White Chocolate and his guy gang.
Barbados Crop Over Carnival
July 31 – August 6
Crop Over Festival is a three-month-long festival celebrating the end of the successful sugar harvest season. Large masquerade bands, people playing mas in exaggerated costumes and stilts, Barbadian music, food, and culture all lead up to the grand parade on Kadooment Day. Some events start early and others end extremely late. Crop Over it sweet fuh days!
Caribana brings in tourists from all over. Hotel packages have been booked since February. Enjoy yacht parties, boat cruises and the best mix of soca, hip hop, r&b, and reggae music. Tickets for the nightlife events and J’ouvert, go on sale Monday, June 17.
We’re about two months away from the biggest summer festival in Anguilla. Anguilla Carnival is equipped with boat races, beach parties, street dancing, and bacchanal. Eyes Wide Shut is what promoters are calling it. Performers include Asa Banton, Farmer Nappy from Trinidad and soca artist/ headliner Machel Montano. If you’re a foodie, enjoy a variety of beachside food shacks and top-notch luxury restaurants.
The Notting Hill Carnival – London, England
August 24-26, 2019
Love was in the air at the Notting Hill Carnival last year with tons of guests showing their love through kisses. It was the biggest street party in the UK, with over 1 million visitors, performers, and steel drummers.
Miami is already known for its nightlife so Carnival fits right in. Experience amazing outfits and high energy right in Miami’s culturally diverse backyard for one of the biggest mas celebrations in North America. This carnival celebration is also family-friendly with a Junior Carnival for the youth.
Nov 1st – Dec 31
If you’re afraid of clowns, you might want to rethink celebrating Carnival here. You’ll catch them at the street dances or colorful parades with the National Carnival Queen Pageant winner.
Dec. 26th – Jan. 4th
Dance all night into the morning while watching the sun on the beach. Christiansted is just that beautiful. The parades are an imperative part of Crucian Christmas Carnival and expected not to be missed, but I’m sure I wouldn’t want to.
Ever since I left St. Croix in February, I’ve been eager to get back for some authentic Caribbean food and stock up on my hair products by Cultured Naturals.
Trinidad & Tobago Carnival
Due to a high number of visitors and hotel accommodations, now is the time to start planning if you want to head to Port of Spain for Carnival. Premium packages for next year have already sold out but if the colorful costumes and exhilarating celebrations are what you desire, you will make a way.
Brazil hosts two of the biggest carnival celebrations every year, one in Salvador and another in Rio de Janeiro. Each year thousands gather in the streets for Salvador Carnival, fueled by axé music. Axé is derived from the Yoruba language, meaning “positive energy.” Watch an amazing performance of Banda Didá, an all-female percussion orchestra during the parade. In Rio, it’s all about the events, street parties and parades, like the Carnival Samba Parade.
You might meet your future bae at this carnival celebration. Melanin, whining, feathers, bathing suits and body glitter will be out in abundance at Jamaica’s Carnival. If you’re worried about where to stay and how to get around, book with concierge carnival service Carnival Jumpers for event and party tickets, housing, and transportation, all in one.
Ashanti and Ja Rule headlined the 50th annual festival celebration on this tropical, French-influenced island this year. St. Maarten has the longest carnival, spanning over 33 days of events and festivities in the Caribbean. Held at Carnival Village, past events include a flag fest, parades, and live performances from adult and children’s bands. Yes, this carnival celebration is family friendly with a cookout and a park of activities.
Two full weekends of soca in the Cayman Islands and a million-dollar view of the world-famous Seven Mile Beach? Sign me up NOW! Batabano refers to the tracks left behind by sea turtles. Carnival became so popular, they created a family-friendly festival, Junior Carnival for kids with their own parade.
Ibiza Soca Festival
What makes the Ibiza Soca Festival so popular is the variety of events and parties coupled with the biggest soca artists in the world. Last year’s lineup featured a breakfast fete, a boat party, a lingerie party and a silent soca headphones party at Ibiza Rocks Beach Bar.
Jamaican artists Shenseea and Koffee shut down the stage at Guyana Carnival last year, attracting tourists and carnival lovers from all over. Immerse yourself in elaborate costumes, festivities, and Guyanese culture and food at Guyana Carnival next year. Also, enjoy an all-inclusive brunch at the breakfast fete.