December 15th – January 4th

Held in Saint Croix, this event which unfolds late December to early January has it all. Around this time, expect to find activities all over the island of Saint Croix, as part of this festival which merges Christmas and carnival in a very interesting way.

December 15th – January 4th

Held in Saint Croix, this event which unfolds late December to early January has it all. Around this time, expect to find activities all over the island of Saint Croix, as part of this festival which merges Christmas and carnival in a very interesting way.

November 22nd – January 4th

 

Saint Kitts, the larger and more populated of two island nations (Nevis), is known for its lush rainforests, beaches of white, gray, and black sands, and of course, its carnival celebrations. Carnival in St Kitts, also known as Sugar Mas, typically starts from the second week of November, and spans until the first week of January. There is a packed schedule of activities marking this celebration which includes sunset cruises, jouvert, calypso and soca competitions, beauty pageants and more. The grand parade usually features colorful carnival bands parading through the streets to the sounds of sweet soca music!

December 21st – January 1st

 

This festival starts in December and ends in January. During this time, Montserrat comes alive with its biggest festival for the year. This is a lesser known event, but it is very popular particularly for home-comers to Montserrat who fled the island after the Soufrière Hills Volcano eruption. The love for home despite circumstance can be seen in this event, as people come together and celebrate life.

December 15th – January 4th

Held in Saint Croix, this event which unfolds late December to early January has it all. Around this time, expect to find activities all over the island of Saint Croix, as part of this festival which merges Christmas and carnival in a very interesting way.

December 31st – January 1st

If you’re looking for a good time in Turks and Caicos, Junkanoo is a good pick. Happing within the beautiful islands of Turks and Caicos, this event is known for being a parade of energy. The Junkanoo parade held on January 1 includes horns, drums and revelers in bejeweled masks, and handmade costumes dancing into the wee hours of the morning. This festival pays tribute to African music and dance.

February 19th – 25th

 

Puerto Rico is not left out of the fun. Carnaval de Ponce, also known as Carnaval Ponceño, is held towards the end of February and has a lot to offer. The event is held in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and it is one of the oldest carnivals in the Western Hemisphere. Celebrations in this Spanish territory are frequently likened to that of Rio de Janeiro, but you’ll have to go for yourself to see if they match up!

February 23rd – 26th

A festival with a difference, Martinique’s carnival is perfect for those wanting a more traditional event. Music and authenticity are at the core of this event which pays tribute to the island’s French and African roots.

February 24th – 25th

Trinidad carnival is the mother of all carnivals in this region. It is the carnival event that almost every single person aspires to attend at least once in their lifetime. As the festival continues to grow, these aspirations have extended internationally. In recent times, celebrities of all calibers have made Trinidad their destination of choice in February, primarily to partake in the celebrations. The event has seen the attendance of celebrities including Ashanti, Mya, Lil Kim, Trinidad James, and others.

February 25th

No Caribbean island is left behind on the carnival train, and certainly not Saint Barthélemy. This island is known for its festivals, events, and regattas, and just as much planning and dedication goes into its carnival celebrations which get underway mid-February and end in March.

February 24th – 25th

 

Carnival in the Dominican Republic is a wild time. Much due to Spanish influences, the atmosphere of this festival can be compared to that of Rio de Janairo on a much smaller scale. A vibrant celebration, festivities in this part of the world usually fill the entire month of February. It is a ‘celebration of culture and identity’, which extends throughout the DR. Costumes, masks, and symbolic characters are a big part of this event, and are tied to folklore traditions and beliefs.

an 1st – Feb 25th

 

Aruba’s Carnival is the ultimate party of the year. Carnival celebrations on this island located on the ABC chain typically feature Antillean “tumba” music, steel bands with a mix of pulsating salsa beats, marching bands, and more. According to the natives, ‘you haven’t lived until you’ve been to Aruba’s carnival’, and the island’s two-month long carnival calendar (starting in January) backs up that sentiment!

February 23rd

 

Curacao is a beautiful island, and its people are equally so. Held in March, this festival is a lively occasion which serves as an opportunity to bring people together to celebrate culture, heritage and freedom. The Dutch island of Curacao is part of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao).

March 2nd – 3rd

 

A visit to the ABC islands is incomplete without checking out what Bonaire has to offer. As part of its carnival offering held in February, in Bonaire you’ll find music festivals, parades, and other traditional carnival rituals. The burning of ‘King Mono’ is symbolic in this land, which signifies all the impurities that must vanish before the Lenten fast begins.

Feb 29th – Mar 1st

 

The French islands have a special essence that can be seen in the way their carnival celebrations come to life. Like most of the French speaking territories, the dances, music and other aspects showcased during Guadeloupe’s carnival are something unique, and completely their own. Guadeloupe’s carnival is one of the biggest festivals in the Antilles.

February 23rd

 

Curacao is a beautiful island, and its people are equally so. Held in March, this festival is a lively occasion which serves as an opportunity to bring people together to celebrate culture, heritage and freedom. The Dutch island of Curacao is part of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao).

Feb 24th – 26th

 

Dominicans sure know how to party, and carnival in the nature island is great time to experience that. The Creole speaking Caribbean island is known for day to night partying during carnival and other major events. This event is a guaranteed good time, amid an environment that is refreshing and invigorating. Dominica’s carnival is known as ‘The Real Mas’ because it pays tribute to traditional carnival celebrations.

February 25th

Carnival in this Creole speaking island has come together over the years in a big way, to pay tribute to the roots of this country. While Haiti is known to have several carnival celebrations throughout the year, the main event, Haiti Kanaval, is held in Port-au-Prince from January and into early March.

April 4th – May 2nd

Annually, Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands hosts their carnival celebrations during the month of April. The island hosts hard core parties leading up to the main event, a carnival parade that lights up Main Street. Whether you sit on the sidelines, or jump in a band, you’re guaranteed a fun time in Saint Thomas.

April 11th – 13th

 

Virgin Gorda is a tropical paradise. In late March/early April, the island located in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) heats up for some carnival fun. Easter is party time on this island, so get ready to wine and grind.

April 15th

 

Beach parties, breakfast fetes, parades, and concerts are all part of Jamaica’s carnival, and Ocho Rios is one of the best places in Jamaica to take in the celebrations. With a schedule of activities starting in January and ending in April, you won’t be bored on this rock.

Apr 16th – May 3rd

 

You can have the best of both worlds in Saint Martin, an island which is both Dutch and French. The island is a melting pot of cultures, and for a small island, it is significantly more developed than others in the same category. Most people are unaware of this, and for that reason, carnival in this territory is underrated. With a fast-growing entertainment scene, the event is growing in popularity. Carnival festivities in the French side of Saint Martin typically start in February and end early March.

April 16th – April 20th

 

Starting with three carnival bands in 2000, Bachannal Jamaica is today one of the biggest carnival events held on the island. Events start in December and wind down towards the end of Easter. Loads of activities lead up to the Road March finale, which is hugely popular. The event has featured Caribbean stars including Machel Montano, Destra, Kes, Bunji Garlin, Fayann Lyons, Kerwin Dubois and more. The rich culture of Dancehall and Reggae is fused into traditional carnival celebrations in Jamaica.

May 1st – 10th

 

Held in the Cayman Islands, Batabano is usually observed in the first week of May. This festival is the only carnival held in the Cayman Islands, and features events for adults and juniors.

May 1st – May 4th

 

One of the most beautiful destinations in the world, the Bahamas is a top choice for many travelers. Throw in a spectacular carnival event and you’ll have even more motivation to visit this island to get acquainted with its culture. Carnival in the Bahamas is usually held in the first week of May, though there are lots of other events happening year-round

May 28th – June 1st

 

Off the shores of Antigua, Barbuda’s carnival beckons carnival lovers from all over to an intimate and traditional event. Smaller islands tend to have less crowded celebrations, which are great for those who feel more comfortable in a close-knit setting.

June 5th – 15th

 

Bermuda is that pretty little island in the Caribbean with gorgeous pink sand beaches and amazing people. Carnival in this territory happens in the third week of June and is part of Bermuda’s Heroes Weekend. Though small, this festival is steadily growing, and it is one of the highly recommended events in the Caribbean.

December 31st – January 1st

If you’re looking for a good time in Turks and Caicos, Junkanoo is a good pick. Happing within the beautiful islands of Turks and Caicos, this event is known for being a parade of energy. The Junkanoo parade held on January 1 includes horns, drums and revelers in bejeweled masks, and handmade costumes dancing into the wee hours of the morning. This festival pays tribute to African music and dance.

July 6th

 

There is a graduation of sorts that seems to happen once you set out on the carnival trail. Perhaps you might begin with milder events and end in an epic way at the best carnival of the region. Vincy Mas is somewhere at the top of Caribbean carnival ratings. Held late June to early July, this event in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines includes carnival activities for the young and young at heart. Some of the best Soca stars come from Saint Vincent, so expect great music and parties!

July 17th – 22nd

 

Saint Lucia carnival, now part of the Soleil Summer Festival in Saint Lucia, culminates with two days of revelry through the streets. The island’s carnival celebrations were previously held in February, ahead of Ash Wednesday, but have now been transitioned to July. The move was made by the island’s government in an attempt to be more competitive on the tourism front. Saint Lucia’s carnival has grown and changed since the move, but the island remains one of the top spots for carnival in the region.

July 18th – 27th

 

A large festival that is as famous as it is traditional, Santiago de Cuba’s carnival happens in July annually. This event is loved because it highlights Cuba’s interests and influences in an authentic way. The parades that are part of this event are nothing short of spectacular, and while attending this event, you’ll literally feel like you’re being sucked into a culture, that welcomes you with open arms.

July 27th

 

This Dutch Caribbean island hosts its carnival celebrations in late July to August. One of the smaller Caribbean events, the Saba Summer Festival features good food, music and a cultural showcase worth taking in.

July 28th – August 3rd

 

Late July into early August the people of Saint Eustantius welcome foreigners to their shores, as well as people born on island who have since migrated. The small Dutch island with a population of just over 3,000 people is a hive of activity during this time with events intended to boost the island’s tourism product.

July 23th – August 4th

 

Saint Kitts and Nevis is a duel island nation. Many people are familiar with Saint Kitts, but slightly less acquainted with the latter. Culturama held late July into early August is an opportunity for Nevis to showcase its cultural identity, and that the little island does well with a series of shows and a grand parade which is one of its biggest highlights annually.

July 23rd – August 8th

 

This island’s Emancipation Festival is held in early August, and this is a great time to visit Tortola as you can expect really good local and international food, music, pageants, parades, and even gospel celebrations. The options are endless for this festival which focuses on celebrating the history and culture of the nation and paying tribute to the freedom of the ancestors.

July 25th – August 6th

 

Antigua features one of the most organized carnivals in the region. Held annually in early August, Antigua’s carnival draws scores of regional and international guests. From convertibles driving past with beautiful carnival contestants, to day and night parties, Antigua is hands down one of the best Caribbean carnivals around town.

July 29th – August 4th

 

Held in early August, Crop Over is known to feature stars like Rihanna, who was born and raised on Barbados. Rihanna’s attendance of this event has significantly raised the ratings for this now high-profile carnival event. Crop over is set apart from other carnival events in the region because its origins have to do with the season marking the ending of the local Sugar Cane Harvest.

uly 30th – August 6th

 

Just off the shores of Saint Martin, Anguilla is a paradise for carnival lovers seeking an experience which is a little different from most. Boat races, pageants and parties are all part of this event which has gained popularity over the years. Be sure to check out August Monday, jouvert and the Caribbean Beach Party while on this island.

August 1st – 11th

 

There’s no going wrong with an event with such a spicy connotation. Spice Mas is one of the best marketed events in the Caribbean, and it lives up to the hype. Held early to mid-August, this event in Grenada features steel pan showcases, parades, beauty pageants, and more.

August 3rd – 15th

 

Cuba is a truly vibrant nation and it is no surprise that the liveliness of the people makes its way into carnival celebrations. Held in August, carnival festivities in Cuba date back to 1573. The first Havana carnival of the twentieth century was held in 1902, and the event has grown leaps and bounds since then.

September 12th

 

Rounding up the carnival trail is Belize Carnival, held in September. This event is a combination of street theatre, music, costumes, and very enthusiastic and friendly people. Mixed origins find the people of Belize paying tribute to their Mayan, African, and European roots, in a celebration that is uniquely Belizean. Even though this celebration wraps up the main events in the region for the year, it doesn’t mean the carnival road map is done. Preparations for most carnivals held in February begin around this time, and by November, some bands would have already hosted their launch parties for the upcoming year!

  1. Plan your transportation early when attending carnival events, so you’re not left stranded after the fact.
  2. Wear minimal jewelry to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
  3. Wear sunscreen, a hat or both.
  4. Stay hydrated. Typically, people drink more alcohol than usual during carnival, which can dehydrate your body.
  5. Keep an eye on your children, especially in crowded areas as they can get lost.
  6. Don’t leave your drinks unsupervised, and ensure all bottled drinks are opened in your presence.
  7. Travel in groups when heading out to activities. Ensure all members of your group are present when you’re ready to leave.
  8. Do not accept drinks from strangers.
  9. People from the Caribbean can be friendly, but remember, not everyone is your friend.
  10. Avoid carrying large amounts of money and keep your wallet or change purse somewhere discreet.

Carnival is a celebration of beauty, as seen in the vivid colors surrounding the event. Women and even men in the region pay great attention at this time to looking their best. Some people go on strict diets and exercise for months leading up to the major events just so they can look stunning on the big day. While some people prefer to just throw on a costume and have a good time, others prefer to look glittery and gorgeous while feting the day away. Either way, carnival in the Caribbean is a good time, so make sure you take lots of photos to memorialize this once in a lifetime event!