Trinidad Carnival truly is the greatest party in the world. I had the good fortune to go this year and man - those were some of the best 8 days of my life. I had such an incredible time last year that June and I bought flights to go back for Trinidad Carnival 2017 shortly after we got back this year. We already have our costumes, flights and hotel booked, so the only thing left to do is decode where to fete (aka party). You will not find much about food here (I'll save that for another post), but it will be a comprehensive review of what parties I think are worth your hard earned dollars.
BEACH HOUSE (Thursday before carnival) - This is a fancy fete held in Chagaramus, known for well-dressed attendees and premium food/liquor.
- Rating: 4/5
o This was a great warm up fete. It got us into the carnival mode with incredible music, unlimited drinks and food, without making us wukk up too hard and sweat out our fresh braid ups. For an idea of the vibe check out the video from 2015
o Incredible food and drink options: Premium liquor was available as far as the eye could see. The plentiful wait staff made sure that I never waited more than a few minutes in line for a drink or food. In fact, someone handed me a glass of Moet when I walked in. The doubles tent was the only place with a long line.
o Venue: It was held in a wide open field with multiple partying areas. There was an area set up with white tables and chairs, allowing us to eat greedily without getting channa all over my front (very, very important). A separate area closer to the DJ booth gave me more than enough room to dance. There was plenty of space to eat, drink, dance and still find your friends if they wandered away.
o Stush crowd: People are not dressed to fete. Save your fanciest outfit and your cutest wedges for this one. As the sun went down people got more hype, but overall it was a place to be seen.
o Location: There was only one road in an out, so traffic was an issue. I recommend arriving early to avoid huge delays
- Worth the coin?: HELL YES! Even with the high price of $225 I will be back. Perhaps it is my New York state of mind, but I like getting dressed up for at least one fete. The pictures were incredible and vibes nice.
o Use the washrooms early ladies. Port-a-potties ain’t cute.
o Rent a mini-bus to come with your crew. It reduces traffic and makes for a fun ride down
o Doubles. EAT THEM.
TRIBE IGNITE (Thursday night) – Fete for thrown by the Tribe mas band (considered to be one of the most fun bands on the road). This fete is known for featuring the biggest soca stars n the world, Machel Montano
- Rating: 3.75/5
o Machel Montano & KES the Band. These are MUST SEE performers when at TnT carnival, and how better to see them than with the “allegedly” livest mas band on de road. Full disclosure – we missed KES, but were there for Machel’s full set. MAD.
o No food: There were tons of places to get drinks but either the food was done when we got there or there was none. That was a problem. I think we ended up grabbing corn soup from the man outside but we were hangry by then.
- Worth the coin? Absolutely. Because of when we arrived in Trinidad, this was our only opportunity to see Machel, and that is always worth it. I would be happy to return to fete in 2017, but may try another fete Thursday night just for variety.
o Don’t come here hungry
A.M. BUSH – This is widely considered an alternative to j’ouvert. J'ouvert is a street party that starts at around 2am Carnival Monday. Paint, powder, mud and sometimes other celebratory mess-making ingredients are thrown around as you dance to the soca beat. This means that you fete in the street from 2am until 8 or 9am, then go home to get ready to parade in the sun all day. This fete is like J’ouvert but happens the Saturday before. For those of you worried about having the stamina to make it to Monday Mas after being soaked to the bone in paint – this is for you. It happens at a secret location in the bush and runs from 2am to around 9.
- Rating 4.5/5
o VIBES: Vibes GALORE. I have to give it to Caesar’s Army. They know how to create an atmosphere of fun and mystery. You are corralled in your sections in a large lot, where shuttle buses drive you to an unnamed location. Once there, we got a quick shot of liquor (perhaps is was fireball?) then boarded a smaller RV van that was blasting music at high volume. When you reach the final party location there are drink trucks, music and revelers ready to fete.
o Package pick up. This is the only reason why I knocked 0.5 of a point off the rating. The day before the fete you need to go to the Caesar’s army camp and pick up your wristband, cup, t-shirt and shorts. It sounds so simple, but somehow it was incomprehensibly complex. If I knew I would be spending my precious time in Trinidad waiting 3 hours in the hot sun for a cotton t-shirt and panty, I would have brought some libations to pass the time.
o The food situation after the road was disorganized. Long lines and hungry bellies gave way to some bouts of anger from masqueraders. I grabbed a couple of doubles and headed home.
- Worth the money (and the trouble with pick up)? 100% YES! This was one of my favorite parties because of the quality of the music, energy of the other party goers and the vibes all round.
o Pick up your package early
o Skip the insane food lines at the end of the party and find food at home.
SOCA BRAINWASH - An all-inclusive fete brought to you by the carnival king himself – DJ Private Ryan. The goal and theme for the party is to bring folks from all countries and backgrounds together for wicked fete.
- Rating: 5/5
o EVERYTHING!! The music is incredible, the food is top notch and liquor premium. No lines for anything. There was even a station to get sprayed down with sun screen. Watch the post party video and that will tell you everything (me and my friend Chanel make a cameo at 1:28)
o It ended. I would have feted for at least 3 more hours without batting an eyelash
o Watch DJ Private Ryan’s IG like a hawk to find out when tickets are released then STOP EVERYTHING to buy one. This thing sold out within minutes, so be ready.
VALE – Breakfast fete and the most coveted ticket of them all. Breakfast fetes start around 2-3am and until 9-10. People general start by filling their bellies, then the party gets going as the sun rises.
- Rating 3/5
o The set up with beautiful. The DJs are set up on an elevated platform with a grand staircase behind them.
o The music was great. Voice, the 2016 Soca Monarch, showed up and the crowd went mad
o The crowd was not as live as at the other fetes. I got the feeling that folks were still waking up.
o Getting tickets was a mission. Apparently the committee members give tickets to their friends and sparingly to others. Because this party has been going on for such a long time it is the same people who always get tickets, which may also explain why the crowd can be on the older side (mid 30s-mid-late 40s)
FUN MUDDERS J'OUVERT – This was the j’ouvert band associated with Fantasy mas band. Instead of throwing paint they had mud.
- Rating: 2.5/5
o Well organized
o Minimal vibes. It seemed that all the “bros” that had come to experience carnival joined this j’ouvert band. There were people smashing paint cans against their foreheads and wining out of turn. Not sexy.
- Worth the money? Nope. Perhaps if this was the only or first fete that I attended it would be acceptable, but we had already knocked five fetes off our list by then. This was a definite let down. My time was salvaged because of the wicked friends that came through.
o Bring the vibes. Grab a fun crew to get wet and wild with because the vibes are fleeting.
BAE WATCH – Cool down fete featuring American video models Amber Rose and Black Chyna. It was a cooler fete – meaning that we could bring a cooler with our own alcohol. Mixers and cups were available on site. This was our cool down fete since we missed the chance to go to Tobago.
- Rating: 3.5/5
o The music and performances were great. Lyrikal killed is as usual as did cutie Aaron Duncan, Dexta Daps and others.
o The food was delicious.
o The VIP section was not what I expected. It was a large grass area set away from much of the crowd with easy access to food and mixers.
o The vibes were in the non-VIP section. I was torn between wanting to party with the masses and my concern for bodily safety.
o I feted so hard that I walked out with a broken toe – literally.
o Arrive early
o Bring a crew. This is not a party for solo-travelers.
Do you have any favorite fetes for Trinidad Carnival? Anyone planning on going in 2017?