Apart from Crop Over and Trinidad Carnival my other Carnival experience has been St. Lucia Carnival. Now, I originally had no plans on going to St. Lucia for Carnival, I just happened to be on the island at the same time that their Carnival was taking place. I have also been in Antigua at the start of their Carnival season and went to a Calypso Tent upon invitation from the Minister of Culture at that time, but I did not stay long enough to experience their Carnival parade.
St. Lucia Carnival when I visited was a small affair; I remember being asleep when my friend who I was staying with at the time came to wake me up to say J’ouvert was passing in front of her house. By the time I awoke and went to the porch, say all of five minutes, the “J’ouvert” had already passed her house! I did go into Castries for the parade and, of course, jumped up behind a band. To me the parade route was quite similar to Trinidad’s in that it was somewhat long (longer to me than in Barbados), we passed all through Castries and they have mas on both Monday and Tuesday. The actual costumed bands are small; some only having 6 sections, but a number of spectators do follow the bands without a costume. I had a great time especially since they played a wide variety of Caribbean music! If you plan on going just keep in mind that it is nothing close to Trinidad in terms of size, but enjoyable for being something different.
There is something special about St. Lucia, even if all the beaches are not white sand being a volcanic island, the scenery is amazing, especially the Pitons! And I really like the lime in Rodney Bay with all the restaurants and bars, though I am yet to experience the Night Life like we have in Trinidad on any of the other islands I have been to, but Barbados comes close! For Carnival there are a variety of parties and limes as well as Boat Rides in St Lucia. Reduit beach, pictured below, is one of my favourites in ; from there you can take a boat to Pigeon Island on just relax on the beach with a Piton beer!
St. Lucia Carnival this Year takes place from July 16th to July 18th and band launchings usually start in May, so look out for more information and updates. The following are some popular bands for St. Lucia Carnival, the websites are still showing the 2006 presentations but you can still have a look at the costumes:
For more information on St. Lucia Carnival check the website Luciancarnival.com
As for places to stay in St. Lucia I personally have stayed with friends as well as at the all-inclusive hotel Almond Morgan Bay. But, if I were to go for Carnival I would want to stay in Rodney Bay area where there are several small hotels, lots of restaurants and bars in addition to being walking distance to Reduit Beach, a Supermarket and the main road for easy transportation by mini vans.