St. Lucia Carnival 2024

Castries
Practical Tips

Everything you need to know to plan your trip

Date: June/July 2024

Budget: about $1000 for the road march and J’óuvert

Stay: Harmony Marina Suites or Coco Palm Resort 

I have to admit, after my first carnival in Tobago, I got addicted and started to explore more Caribbean carnivals. In 2024 I am attending Jamaica, St. Lucia and Barbados carnival

After visiting several carnivals I realized that the carnival celebrations are as different as the islands themselves. 

So after planning my trip to Jamaica carnival 2024, I am now ready to start prepping for St. Lucia. 

Follow me!

1. Budget and start saving

Carnival is expensive. But it’s totally worth it, and if you get Early Bird Tickets to the parties, you’ll be able to save some $$$.

Here is a rough overview of the costs you should expect:

– Costume: around $550

– Backpack “The Feathers” (optional): $200-$300

2. Know the dates and plan accordingly

So, here’s the deal when you’re gearing up to jump with one of St. Lucia’s carnival bands – you gotta be in the know about the key events and dates. Even if you can’t make it for the big road march itself, there’s still a chance to catch some major pre-carnival parties that can give you a flavor of the carnival vibes.

January/February 2024

Costume launches

Costume launches are my absolute favorite! They kick off the carnival countdown with a bang. But let me tell you, as much as I adore them, they don't make choosing a costume any easier – the options are just too incredible! Luckily, the excitement doesn't stop there. After witnessing these breathtaking launches, you can swing by the bands' showrooms to intimately explore the costumes. It's an opportunity to marvel at every intricate detail and fully immerse yourself in the magic they exude. Plus, you can even register with your preferred band and personally select the costume that perfectly resonates with your Carnival spirit.

soca party

June 1st - July 16th

PRE CARNIVAL PARTIES & EVENTS

In the Pre-Carnival season, Castries comes alive! There's a constant buzz of Soca and carnival-themed events happening nearly every day, making it the perfect opportunity to mingle with fellow revelers. During carnival season you’ll find national events, private (as in private sector) parties, music events at the Calypso & Soca Tent and Community events where all bands come together.

Some of the most traditional events such as the National Queen Pageant, Calypso Finals take place quite early during the season!

costume pick up for Jamaica carnival

2nd week of July

PICK UP YOUR COSTUME FOR St. LUCIA CARNIVAL

Unless you are using a carnival concierge, you’ll have to plan a day to pick up your costume. Your band will let you know the exact pick-up time and location.

me covered in paint during jouvert

July 13th

J’OUVERT

My favorite and wildest party of the year! The paint and color party traditionally takes place the night from Friday to Saturday and starts Saturday 2 am till 5 am. In St. Lucia, J'ouvert is one of the National events!

Caribbean Carnival

July 15th & 16th

TWO PARADES OF THE BANDS

July 15th & 16th, are the big days in Castries as all the bands unite to take over the streets!

With countless mas bands, each boasting its own unique theme and music truck, you're in for a mesmerizing spectacle. Get ready to groove, jump, and revel in the festivities as you join the parade route winding through the vibrant streets of Castries.

Monday, July 15th is the first day of the parade where you get to wear the costume.

Tuesday, July 16th is day two of the parade. Revelers will come out with day 2 wear. Most bands will provide you with a monokini style option.

St. Lucia Carnival Events

After July 17th

Post National Pardae Community events

July 20st and 21st: Anse La Raye Carnival

July 28th and 29th: Soufiere Carnival

August 3rd and 4th: Micoud carnival

August 3rd and 4th: Gros Islet carnival

August 4th: Canaries

August 10th & 11th: Mabouya Valley Carnival

3. Book flights and accommodation

Carnival in St. Lucia takes place during the low season which makes it a lot harder for international travelers to reach. Make sure to check flights early, otherwise they might end up getting crazy expensive. Carnival in St. Lucia is very popular so accommodation sell out quickly, so book it with your flight!

me recovering from jamaica carnival 2023

4. Know St. Lucia’s carnival bands

Let’s delve into the dynamic world of St. Lucia’s Carnival bands – it’s time to choose your band and your show-stopping costume! 

These bands are participating in St.Lucia’s carnival 2024:

5. How to choose your carnival costume

Picking the perfect carnival band is your golden ticket to dancing through the streets of Castries come July. You’ll need to align yourself with a band and slip into one of their breathtaking costumes to truly immerse yourself in the festivities. These costumes are typically unveiled during glamorous costume reveal events held in January or February, igniting a wave of anticipation and excitement.

But here’s a valuable tip: the most coveted costumes and sizes tend to disappear quickly, so it’s wise to secure your spot early in the game!

How to choose a costume:

Caribbean Carnivals offers a myriad of costume options tailored to diverse preferences and comfort levels, ensuring everyone can fully engage in the spirited celebrations according to their individual style and comfort.

Frontline: The Frontline costume stands out as the epitome of extravagance and allure. With its extravagant designs, intricate details, and vibrant colors, the Frontline costume is a true showstopper. Inspired by the theme of the Carnival band, Frontline costumes take center stage during the parade, exuding drama and craftsmanship in every detail. Often larger and more ornate, Frontline costumes may feature elaborate headdresses, and other striking elements, commanding attention at every turn.

Backline: For those seeking a balance between style and practicality, the Backline costume offers a fitting choice. While still vibrant and spirited, Backline costumes are generally simpler and more comfortable to wear. They maintain the essence of Carnival with their colorful designs but provide ease of movement for revelers. With more understated decorative elements compared to Frontline options, Backline costumes offer a popular choice for participants who desire to join the festivities without the extravagance.

Full Coverage: Embracing the Carnival spirit with a touch of modesty, Full Coverage costumes cater to individuals preferring additional coverage. These costumes feature more fabric and cover more of the body while retaining the colorful and festive elements of Carnival attire. Ideal for those seeking a bit more modesty, Full Coverage costumes provide a comfortable option for participation in the Carnival celebrations while still embracing the vibrant atmosphere.

me choosing my costume for jamaica carnival 2024
Me at carnival in Jamaica

6. Things to know about the road march

  1. Costume Collection: Prepare for either a delightful or time-consuming experience when picking up your costume. Here’s how to make it smoother:

   – Allocate a day for costume collection.

   – Energize yourself with food and drinks beforehand to ward off hunger.

  1. Road Marches are All-Inclusive Experience: Leave worries about drinks and snacks behind during the Road March – it is covered by accompanying trucks!
  2. Sideline Spectator: You’re not obligated to join a specific band – enjoy the Road March from the sidelines if you prefer.
  3. Carnival Season: Remember, Carnival is more than just a single day!

Especially in St. Lucia many traditional events such as Calypso Finals are taking place before the road march. Make sure to check out all types of events from parties to traditional, cultural events which make St. Lucia carnival so special!

7. Social Media channels to follow

Follow the most important Social Media channels to be in the know

Here is a quick list of Social Media channels to follow for carnival season in St. Lucia 2024

Bands

royalitesxtreme

just4funcarnival

xuvocarnival

fuzionmas

redcarnivalband

legendscarnival

Others

St Lucia Princess

St.Lucia is paradise

Laura Beee

Carnival Sabrina

Island Gurl

Carnival Saint Lucia

caribbean carnival costume for st. lucia
Man playing steel pan

8. The Vibrant History of St. Lucia Carnival

St. Lucia’s carnival began in 1947, right after World War II. It started with a small but lively parade of people in ragged clothes, creating music with bottles and steel pieces, ending at Derek and Roddy Walcott’s home on Chaussee Road.

By 1948, inspired by Mardi Gras, locals were dressing up in makeshift costumes and parading through the streets. The event grew so popular that Shrove Tuesday became a public holiday. Steel bands, calypso music, and colorful costumes became essential parts of the celebration, despite some controversies over song lyrics.

In 1950, the carnival introduced the King and Queen competition, with winners parading to Victoria Park. Since 1952, only a Carnival Queen has been crowned, always an unmarried St. Lucian national.

Calypso music, influenced by various cultures, evolved to reflect social issues and personal stories. Steel bands, introduced in 1948, became a cultural symbol. Over the years, St. Lucia Carnival has become a global attraction, especially after changing its dates to stand out from Trinidad and Tobago’s carnival, solidifying its place in West Indian culture.

9. Learn the carnival slang

  • Mas: Short for masquerade, it refers to the art of wearing costumes and participating in the Carnival parade.
  • Fete: A lively party or social event often featuring music, dancing, and food, which is a prominent aspect of pre-Carnival celebrations.
  • J’ouvert: The pre-dawn opening of Carnival, characterized by paint, mud, or oil-covered revelers taking to the streets for spirited celebrations.
  • Soca: A popular genre of Caribbean music, known for its upbeat tempo and infectious rhythms, often associated with Carnival celebrations.
  • Calypso: A traditional Caribbean music style that often features witty and humorous lyrics, played prominently during Carnival.
  • Mas Band: A group of participants who wear coordinated costumes and perform together during the Carnival parade.
  • Costume Designer: An individual or team responsible for creating the elaborate and colorful costumes worn by Carnival participants.
  • Road March: The main parade during Carnival, where mas bands and revelers take to the streets to showcase their costumes and dance to soca music.
  • Bacchanal: A term used to describe the wild and raucous festivities and revelry associated with Carnival in Jamaica. Also the name of a carnival band.

Jamaica carnival road march
me at Jamaica's carnival in Kingston wearing an Xodus costume

10. What to pack for a carnival in St. Lucia

As you embark on your Carnival adventure, anticipate a delightful surprise waiting in your costume bag. Packed with small essentials, it ensures your comfort throughout the exhilarating day ahead. From deodorant to chewing gum, snacks, and a handy vanity bag, you’ll find all you need for an unforgettable experience.

However, to truly elevate your Carnival journey, don’t overlook these must-have items:

  1. Sturdy and Comfortable Footwear: Expect endless dancing, walking, and carefree revelry. Ensure your footwear is up to the task for a seamless experience.
  2. Sweat-Resistant Sunscreen: Shield yourself from the relentless Kingston sun with a compact, travel-sized bottle of sweat-resistant sunscreen. Protect your skin while enjoying the festivities.
  3. Hair and Makeup: Treat yourself to professional hair and makeup services for an expert Carnival look. Embrace the spirit of the event and indulge in pampering to enhance your experience.
  4. Nipple Pasties: Opt for comfortable, reliable nipple pasties to ensure a worry-free day of celebration.
  5. Body Powder or Glitter: Add an extra touch of sparkle and flair to your Carnival ensemble with body powder or glitter. Shine bright and stand out in the vibrant festivities.

11. Get ready for the road

I hope you’ve had a chance to recuperate from the Pre-Parties on Saturday night and are now ready for the road ahead! The road marches typically start early in the morning, so expect some traffic as you head there.

On the morning of the road march, gather with your friends, enjoy a delicious breakfast together, and begin the exciting process of getting carnival-ready.

Carnival makeup and styling can be intricate, so if you’re not confident in doing it yourself, consider booking an appointment at a Glam Hub well in advance. This way, you can ensure you look and feel your best for the festivities ahead!

me getting ready for jamaica carnival

Practical travel tips for St. Lucia

Which language is spoken in St. Lucia?

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The official language of St. Lucia is English. However, a French-based creole called Saint Lucian Creole French, or simply "Creole" by locals, is widely spoken as well.

What is the currency in St. Lucia?

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The official currency of St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD), which is abbreviated as EC$.

What is the best time to visit St. Lucia?

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The best time to visit Saint Lucia is generally during the dry season, which runs from December to April. This period offers sunny weather with lower chances of rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, beach outings, and exploring the island's attractions. Additionally, the peak tourist season coincides with this time, so you can expect lively events and festivals. However, keep in mind that prices may be higher and accommodations may be more crowded during this period. If you prefer to avoid crowds and are willing to tolerate some rainfall, the shoulder seasons of May to June and November can also be good times to visit, offering fewer tourists and slightly lower prices while still enjoying relatively good weather.

Is St. Lucia safe for travelers?

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St. Lucia is generally considered safe for travelers, but like any destination, it's important to exercise caution and take common-sense precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Public Transport in St. Lucia

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Public transportation in Saint Lucia primarily consists of buses and minibusses, which are commonly referred to as "vans" by locals. These vans operate on fixed routes throughout the island and are a popular and affordable option for both locals and tourists alike.

The bus system is relatively informal, with vans stopping to pick up and drop off passengers along their routes. Fares are generally inexpensive and paid directly to the driver upon boarding. It's important to note that buses may not adhere to strict schedules, so be prepared for some flexibility in travel times.

In addition to buses, taxis are also available for hire and are a convenient option for travelers who prefer a more personalized and direct mode of transportation. Taxis can be found at designated taxi stands, hotels, and tourist areas, and fares are typically negotiated with the driver before the journey begins.

Can I drink tap water in St. Lucia?

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Yes, you can! If you have a sensitive stomach, use your self-cleaning water bottle.

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Packing List St. Lucia

As you see, there are plenty of things to experience in St. Lucia. To come fully prepared, check out my packing list for St. Lucia, which includes everything from eco-friendly toiletries to sustainable fashion and even the coolest travel gadgets!

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Carnival glossary

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