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YOUR TRINIDAD CARNIVAL PLANNING GUIDE

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A First Timer's Guide to Trinidad Carnival

A First Timer's Guide to Trinidad Carnival

Each and every year, many of the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago - living home and abroad, and folks from all over of the world come together on the soils of Trinidad to celebrate the "Greatest Show on Earth". While other countries claim the same of their Carnivals, many who have visited ours have remarked that there is nothing like it in the world! Ready to attend Trinidad Carnival but don't have a clue where to begin? Your planning starts today! Prep your mind, body and bank account. We've broken it down to 7 Steps, of which you will find all pertinent details in the table below.

 

STEP 1: BOOK YOUR FLIGHT IN ADVANCE
STEP 2: FIND A PLACE TO STAY
STEP 3: SORT OUT LOCAL TRANSPORTATION
STEP 4: REGISTER WITH A MAS BAND AND J'OUVERT BAN
STEP 5: PURCHASE YOUR FETE (PARTY) TICKETS
STEP 6: GET IN SHAPE / SET FITNESS GOALS
STEP 7: BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET

TENTATIVE BUDGET (PER PERSON; DOUBLE OCCUPANCY)

  • Flight: $350 - $1200
    Accommodations: $400 - $1,600
    Transportation: $150 - $600
    Carnival Costume: $600 - $1800
    J'Ouvert Band: $100 - $150
    Fetes/Parties: $500 - $1000
    Spending Money: $300 - $600

 

TOTAL: USD $2,400 - $6,950

 

Yes, Trinidad Carnival is expensive. But the experience is 100% worth every penny! Our best advice on how to bring your budget down is simple. Make plans to stay with a local friend, which eliminates hotel and car rental/taxi expense. If you don't have any Trini friends, you will have to bite the bullet in year one, but trust us, you will have several Trinbagoian friends by the time you leave sweet T&T.

Fete Schedule: Where to Party for Trinidad Carnival 2020

CARNIVAL TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO CARNIVAL

GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Duration

Trinidad Carnival is 2 whole days and can be a challenge for those who have never done it before, let's just say NFL players barely made it through this 2 day affair! To give you an idea, Monday starts around 10am, and Tuesday as early as 7am. Train appropriately people.

Getting There

There is only 1 major airport, Piarco International Airport (POS) with many international airlines flying here directly. The airport is 27km / 15 miles from the capital, Port of Spain. You will need to book early to get something less than US$1000, if you're reading this it may be too late to catch that deal.

Temperature

Trinidad & Tobago is HOT! It has an average daily temperature of 28 C/ 85F, dipping to 22C/75F in the evenings. Make sure you bring an endless supply of sunscreen you will need it!

Currency

The local currency is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar. US dollars are widely accepted at an approximate rate of TT $6.5 to US $1. Right now there is a shortage of US in Trinidad causing the exchange rate to be a bit higher than it has been just a few years ago. To get the best rate you can visit any of the local casinos or negotiate with a friend.

Communication / Mobile Providers

Don't be that person searching for WiFi, you will not find it! Get a SIM card at the airport from one of the 2 major carriers on island, Digicel or bMobile. You will need an unlocked device for your phone to work, call your carrier before you leave home to get this done.

Transportation

There is no Uber in Trinidad anymore! The best thing to do is hire a driver for your stay and split cost with your carnival crew. Renting a car can be a great or horrible idea. Having your own ride gives you flexibility and independence, however if you plan to drink like a fish at carnival fetes or dislike driving in unfamiliar countries, then skip the rental idea. Oh, the roads in Trinidad are rowdy.

Best places to Stay

The hot place to stay in Trinidad is the Hyatt, it’s the place to be seen during the carnival season with a hefty surcharge for the season. In recent years there have been AirBnbs popping up that you can share with friends, start checking this now these things fill up quickly, there’s limited supply!

TJJ Recommended Hotel

When looking for a place, be sure that it is centrally located near Port of Spain, this will help you save on expensive taxi fares.

 

Parade of the Bands

Trinidad Carnival has a two-day Parade of the Bands officially celebrated on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday every year. If you want your money’s worth, get to your mas band early on both days! Don’t be that person who strolls into the band during their lunch stop. Make sure you read the information packet included in your costume box, this will tell you everything you need to know! You can also follow your band on Twitter to find out where they are located.

Trinidad Carnival Mas Bands

While it might seem like there’s only a few bands in Trinidad, there are actually quite a few to choose from, some costing more than others (all-inclusive packages vary). Some bands also require committee member approval to even get in, that means you have to know someone to get a registration link!

 

Trinidad Carnival Monday Wear

Trinidad is a bit unique to other carnivals where in the last few years they have introduced something called Monday Wear. This is where you’ll not wear any of your costume on Monday and either purchase one from one of the many Monday Wear designers or wear a bathing suit or something you create on your own. If you want to purchase Monday wear, here’s a few to consider. You can follow them on Instagram to see when they launch.

 

Trinidad Carnival J'Ouvert Bands

J'Ouvert, the official start of carnival, takes place in the early hours (3AM to 9AM) of Carnival Monday. If a Carnival virgin you can't skip J'Ouvert! It's a type of freedom on another level. J'Ouvert lovers, here are a few bands we recommend.

 

TJJ RECOMMENDED EVENTS

 

Breakfast Party

Vale Vibe Breakfast Party, Sunnation Sunrise

Concert

Machel Monday, Tuesday on the Rocks

All Inclusive

Fete with the Saints, PREStige, Fatima College All Inclusive, Beach House

Drinks Inclusive MENTAL, Soca Brainwash
Cooler Party Cocoa Crew Bayview Cooler Fete, Rise N Roast, Farm House
Cruises Suits, Frazzled Saturday

J'Ouvert

Pick a band, have dirty fun!

Must Do Events

Soaka Til Sunrise, Bacchanal Road

FOOD AND DRINKS

 

 

The most amazing thing about Trinidad & Tobago is the food. As a foodie, there’s nothing more we love than a good Trini meal. What is a Trini meal you ask? Well that’s the beauty of this place you can get pretty much anything, we're talking Chinese, Indian, African or even Arabic. If you go to an all-inclusive fete you are sure to taste a few of these yummy items.

Cost of a 2 Piece Combo

Using our KFC global standard, a 2 Pc. Chicken Combo, which includes individual side & medium drink, cost TT$29 (US$4.29)

Local Food

The food here is glorious. Some of our favourites are Doubles, Bake and Shark, Curry Crab & Dumplin and Roti.

Local Drinks

Rum & Coke is the staple of any island, you can’t go wrong. Most fetes will have the local rum and beer. If you're a beer drinker try a Carib or Stag. If you’re up for it, try Puncheon Rum, just like the name you might feel knocked out after a few shots of this.

Late Night Eats

Be sure to try the "street food", it can be found outside of any fete, the perfect end to any party! Some of the most popular items you might find will be doubles, corn soup, roti, aloo pie, or even BBQ or Jerk chicken! Be open to trying anything, it’s all good... we promise!

TJJ Favourite Restaurants

Street Food / $

Vendors on Aripita Ave, Port of Spain

Vendors on St. James Main Road, Port of Spain

 

Affordable Dining & Take Away / $$

El Pecos Grill – Local Creole Dishes // Aripita Ave, Port of Spain

Annie's – Chinese // One Woodbrook, Port of Spain

 

Upscale Dining / $$$

Sails Restaurant – Seafood

More Vino / More Sushi – Japanese | Sushi

House of Chan – Chinese

Town Restaurant & Bar – Classic grill items to traditional cantonese Chinese

Prime – Steakhouse

Alcohol purchase

Grab a bottle or two at duty free in Piarco Int'l Airport when you land, after clearing Immigration.

FOLLOW TRINIDAD CARNIVAL National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago (NCCTT)
Instagram @ncc_tt
Facebook facebook.com/ncctt
Twitter twitter.com/Ncc_tt
Website www.ncctt.org

Note: TJJ Recommends Events, Food, Mas Bands and Hotels based on where we have been and the services we have used. For events, we recommend the ones with a vibe of 8 or higher.

 

How I Journey contributed to this article. Visit her blog at http://howijourney.com/

 

We Love Carnival ... We Know Carnival ... WE ARE CARNIVAL

 

Disclaimer: Professional and experienced TJJ Fet-a-lot-athon® Party Gurus have rigorously tested these Carnival grounds and are providing said recommendations based on the fundamentals that the audience is a healthy rum drinking islander. If while performing any of these actions you begin to feel any dizziness, fatigue or pain please stop and consult your physician immediately.

 

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