I can still remember my first Jamaica Carnival 5 years ago, back in the olden golden days when there was only ONE band that everyone jumped with and three “must attend” fetes; BlockO, Sunrise and Bazodee.
Fast forward to 2018 and I can honestly say that I haven’t been able to keep up with all the new fetes!!! Not to mention the fact that the majority are “foreign imports”. When Scorch first arrived on Carnival Friday four years ago, who knew that Foreign Fete Friday (a term I liked using since there were no local events taking place on that day) would pave the way for a virtual take over by the most popular fetes from Trinidad Carnival .
If you are waxing nostalgic for Carnival in Jamaica where the fun was sharing the same experiences with the same faces over the week. Thus creating a bond of shared intimacy with the soca loving locals and those in on the secret of blending into an anonymous crowd to fete without judgement or wanting to be seen by those on the scene, then these tips are for you:
Fete local – You did not come all this way to NOT experience fetes Jamaican style. With the attention to detail from venue to music to food to execution, Carnival in Jamaica has given me some of my BEST fete experiences ever! My first BlockO, my first Bazodee and my first I Love Soca were all truly a fantastic introduction into how Jamaican’s know how to fete! On our local DO NOT MISS list : Sunrise Breakfast Party, hands down the most epic fete experience you will have in Jamaica for Carnival. Trust me on this.
Find the foodie in you – If you came to Jamaica and did not savor the mouth watering deliciousness of curry goat and white rice, shame on you. Add to your culinary adventure Jamaican specialties such as a true Jamaican breakfast with ackee & saltfish, oxtail with rice & peas, escovitch fish & festival, pan chicken wrapped in foil topped with white bread ( don’t kill me but I prefer it over jerk!) and of course sample all the many delicious Jamaican Tastee patties with fillings you will not find anywhere else . When you are done take a trip over to Devon house and indulge in their amazing ice cream , who cares if you have a costume to fit into, Jamaican food is the best part of the trip!
Embrace being a tourist – Sure you are on the island for Carnival with the fetes pumping fast and furious, typically you barely have any time to recover with sleep before you are on to another one. However it would be remiss of you to not explore a little and see what makes Jamaica one of the most visited islands in the Caribbean. In Kingston you can easily set a side a few hours to visit the Bob Marley Museum, a few more hours and you can visit the famous Hellshire Beach for fresh seafood prepared on the spot. And if you have a day, you can even find the Blue Hole, Frenchman’s Cove or the Blue Lagoon. However, if you really do not want to miss out on a day of feteing I can recommend visiting Maiden Cay (one of my favourite places in Jamaica) with Candy Coated Events “Wine Up” catamaran cruise for a day out filled with good vibes, good people and good fun in one of the most beautiful sandbars in the world! Get tickets here.
Get DUTTY – If you are lucky enough to be in Jamaica for Easter weekend you MUST do Beach J’ouvert! Where else in the world will you be able to be covered in paint in the wee hours of the morning on a stunning beach ? Billed as the Caribbean’s largest beach J’ouvert on the beach, this is a staple on the calendar for Carnival in Jamaica. And if you simply cannot get on the island in time, do not worry, you can enjoy Bacchanal J’ouvert on Carnival Friday, with a pre -party, then hit the streets of Kingston. We love the fact that it’s an easy trek back to the hotel, to head out to Sunrise Breakfast Party (clean) without missing a beat!
Create a Bacchanal in Jamaica – While we do think that growth in Carnival Jamaica was not only inevitable but necessary as the island Carnival continues to draw more Carnival chasers each year, there is something to be said for experiencing Carnival with the powerhouse that is synonymous with Carnival in Jamaica. Bacchanal Jamaica was my introduction to the Jamaican road experience, I was so impressed by this well oiled machine that I could not stop raving about the excellent time I had. Imagine SPACE on the road to fully enjoy playing your mas in costume, servers bringing you water and snacks while you are jumping so you do not miss a beat, a lunch stop with chairs, tables AND cooling fans, not to mention that everything ran on time and with clock work precision. Bacchanal Jamaica boasts the biggest names in Soca, the hottest Soca D.J.s from around the globe and a rocking after party with live performances and dinner, plus some smoking costumes! It is always a pleasure for me to be among the Jamaicans who truly love, appreciate and enjoy Soca, to feed off that vibe is amazing; honestly being with those people is the number one reason why I love Bacchanal Jamaica !
See you on the road!