The Ultimate guide to Carnival in Jamaica

Carnival in Jamaica.

From relatively humble beginnings almost 30 years ago, carnival has  taken root here and Jamaica now boasts what I think will soon be one of the Caribbean’s most vibrant festivals.

Why come?

You should come to experience our unique local fetes with new concepts and amazing venues in different parts of the island.  Come to experience the great value for money carnival here offers. Come to experience our “Road March” with wide spacious roads, epic lunch spot experiences and ample photography by fantastic photographers.

Once you come, you will understand that while the cultural aspects of carnival are not part of the Jamaican DNA, value for money and having epic events certainly is!

When

Carnival in Jamaica is always the Sunday AFTER Easter.  For 2018 this is April 8th.

Now is a great time to book your flights and accommodation as demand has started to outstrip supply for airline seats and hotel rooms in recent years.

There are several options as to when to arrive and depart the island.

The best option involves flying to Kingston Jamaica on Friday March 30th. This opens up the options of attending great parties in Ocho Rios and Portland over the Easter weekend before returning to Kingston for the remainder of the week. (Look for guidance on the “country run” in an upcoming post)

The best return flight would be April 10th after the road and the Xaymaca beach after party on the Monday.

This would give you the MAXIMAL Jamaican carnival experience.

Fete list

The number of fetes has increased dramatically in the last few years with local and many foreign promoters jumping in.  While it’s great to have a few huge brands here it’s the local events that made carnival here big enough to catch the eyes of the foreign events….support local! I will guide you to ensure you go to the best ones.

Here is a snapshot of last year’s recommended and LEHWEGO attended fetes

LAST CARNIVALS FETE LIST

I will keep an interactive calendar of fetes complete with ALL the info you could need at www.lehwegocarnival.com.  Just navigate to April and check back often for updates.

Where to stay in Kingston

Some hotels in the Prime “New Kingston” area are already booked out of regular rooms for carnival 2018.  If you prefer the convenience of a hotel you have to act fast.  Here are some of the more upscale options

Spanish court.

Marriott.

Pegasus hotel.

Courtleigh hotel.

Knutsford court,

Terra Nova hotel

Less posh but still comfortable options 

4 seasons hotel 

Altamont court,

Alhambra inn.

Crystars villas, 

If you are on the more adventurous side you can try airbnb.  It’s best to stick to certain areas which I have outlined in this post

Transport 

If you are used to driving on the left and have a small group I advise getting a rental car.  It’s going to be about 50usd a day and Google maps as well as Waze works well in Jamaica for navigation.  If not there are several reputable companies that offer taxi services.  See the following link:

Taxi services

Carnival day

Carnival in Jamaica used to be easy with just one band, but the carnival landscape is rapidly evolving.  For now at least there are 4 mas bands to choose from.

Bacchanal

Xodus

Jamaica carnival

XAYMACA INTERNATIONAL

LEHWEGO has been part of Xaymaca International from the start and I can tell you that last year, not only was our road experience a blast, our lunch stop was THE most comfortable and pleasing I have ever had the pleasure of attending in all my years of mas.

Now the 4 different bands have their own security meaning that you have to choose your band and stick with it unless you buy costumes in multiple bands

The road parade usually gets underway at about 930am and runs till 7pm with an hour or so lunch stop.  This gives you ample time to rest after Saturday nights fete activities and gives the ladies time to do hair and makeup early in the am.

Hair and makeup are a must here cause we have an ABUNDANCE of top class photographers on the road who capture a much higher proportion of masqueraders than other carnivals in the Caribbean, and with top class photography!  Look out for upcoming posts with all the makeup and hair services you could ever want!

After carnival day.  

I’ve learned ….the hard way ….not to try to return to normal life and your 9 to 5 the day after Jamaicas road March.  Take a day and come enjoy some rest and relaxation with us at the Xaymaca beach lime!  Take a look below.

 

 

So there you have it.  The basic information you need to have a good time in Jamaica for carnival.  If you have any other questions feel free to DM me on IG or Facebook.

 

See you soon!

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