Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Planning for Carnival 2014

Band launching is usually an indication that you need to start planning for the upcoming Carnival season. For people outside of T&T, we don't have the luxury of waiting and need to make decisions quickly.  If you are in Jamaica, you may find this post useful.  So where should you be in your plans?

Costume
If you intend to play with one of the popular bikini and feathers bands (Tribe, Bliss, Fantasy, YUMA or Island People etc), you should have already registered for a costume and paid a deposit**. You should note that many of these bands have already reported sold out sections.  I've heard people in Ja, either boasting about having a "link" or asking about a potential "link" in the more popular Tribe/Bliss or Fantasy. Please be careful. Don't let your desperation cause you to hand over hundreds of US dollars to a "costume scammer".  Trust me, they do exist.  They masquerade as a friend of a friend's cousin-neighbor-colleague-girlfriend-uncle-niece....

I've also realized that there is a popular perception here in Ja, that if you go to Trinidad Carnival, you MUST play mas with Tribe, Bliss, or Fantasy.   I always urge persons to check out other options.  There are bands that offer a great costume and experience for less.  I am tired of telling people that Trinidad Carnival is not defined by these 3 bands...

****Saying that you are playing in a certain section of a band does not mean that you are.  When you have a receipt for your deposit, then you can update your social media status.

Accommodation
If you have not been offered free accommodation at a Trini friend's house by now, you should secure your own.  Hotel rooms are limited and expensive, and the more affordable guest houses tend to be booked by the end of the previous Carnival.  At this point, if you can't get a hotel or guest house, it may be best to contact a real estate agent.  You can also consider accommodation outside of Port of Spain.

Travel
At this point if you do the Thursday-Thursday, a ticket can cost around US$500 on Caribbean Airlines. Finalize your airfare as soon as possible especially with the current ridiculous exchange rate.  A cheaper alternative is Copa Airlines (through Panama).

Fete Tickets
I don't think you need to worry too much about fetes before the new year.  You should at least have some idea which fetes you want to attend, determine how much of your budget will go towards feteing, and how do you plan to get these tickets once they go on sale.  Also keep in mind that it will be necessary to get tickets very early for some events like Vale Breakfast and Beach House.

Diet and Exercise
Once you have registered for your costume, you basically should stop eating.

For first timers, it is important that you understand that Trinidad Carnival is expensive. Try not to get carried away with the hype. Carnival can easily cost you US$3000.  Decide what aspect is important to you- don't have Frontline taste with a Backline budget...or VIP taste with a general budget