Having taken the decision not to play Mas for Trinidad Carnival in 2015, a decision made on Carnival Saturday no less. To say that I was looking forward to Carnival in Jamaica was an understatement. The anticipation staved off any post Carnival tabanca as I eagerly made plans to join Bacchanal Jamaica on the road. My first Jamaica Carnival experience was in 2014, I remember being perplexed by the idea of only having ONE Carnival band, how does this work I wondered? Well, the road experience was fantastic, I had such a good time I literally limped to the car and left my boots on the side of the road after a long day of jamishness; my feet had been murdered.
Bacchanal Jamaica might be only one band; however the costumes were pretty, the drinks flowed, the people were welcoming and most of all they had vibes! Fast forward to 2015, I was no longer a Jamaica Carnival virgin, now I knew the ropes… or so I thought. Even though this was my sophomore year, I still had some new experiences that made 2015 even better than the previous year and has cemented Jamaica on my “must do” Carnival list. There are several reasons why I like Jamaica Carnival, personally I think if you are looking for a budget friendly premium experience Jamaica is for you.
- The people – Jamaicans are amazingly friendly, easy going and generally fun loving folks. Soca lovers are a niche set in Jamaica so you tend to see the same smiling faces at most of the events you attend over the Carnival. A bonus to this for me is that it is a nice mix of familiar and non-familiar faces. You will recognize the diehard Carnival chasers, but it is refreshing to escape the usual crowd that I would have been seeing at fetes back home.
- Your pocket will be happy – I maintain that value for money Jamaica fetes are worth it.
Where else can you find a premium all inclusive event for what you would pay as a starting price for a cooler fete elsewhere? Not only are the fetes all priced well below $100.00 U.S., the upscale venues all score points for layout, décor and of course crowd vibe. Not to mention on the road if you do not choose to splurge on a costume you can pay a fraction of the cost to jump in a T shirt section.
- Road vibe – I have to give kudos to Bacchanal Jamaica for the efficient road management, though as previously stated, it is only one band, it is however a very LARGE band with many D.J and drinks trucks. Masqueraders will recognise a familiar size and structure with the trucks as they are reminiscent of what one would find in Trinidad. The added bonus of drinks runners, water and fruits served on the road is a nice touch. The band leaves fairly early, pulling out from the Mas Camp around 9am with the parade ending back at the Mas Camp at around 6pm for last lap. In between there is a stop for lunch, where each lunch tent is separated by section, and there is no sitting on the ground as there are chairs for each masquerader. If you happen to be in the Frenchmen section you also have the luxury of tables, fans and an open bar during lunch.
- Music – I only recently learned that there are a few Jamaican soca artistes, however for me the fact that I do not have to familiarize myself with the soca played at Carnival in Jamaica is a plus. Coming right off Trinidad Carnival the music is still fresh and there is no acclimatization period, you know those first few days of trying to learn all the hot soca after you land.
- The fetes – I absolutely love the variety of events that are on the Jamaica Carnival fete roster, you will not go to the same type of event twice. Your fete itinerary will include a free drinks street party, a cooler fete , j’ouvert party, breakfast party and a premium all inclusive.