JAMAICA CARNIVAL 2018: A PLANNING GUIDE

We are officially 100 days out until Jamaica Carnival! If you plan on going but haven't started planning already, you better get on it now.

I am neck-deep in planning for Trinidad Carnival but Jamaica Carnival is on the horizon, and time waits for no one. The band launches occurred 4-6 weeks ago so know that prices for flights and accommodations have spiked.

But don't worry. Unlike Trinidad Carnival, you don't have to sell an arm and a leg to experience Jamaica Carnival.

For those who dislike planning and would rather not have the hassle, may I do a hard plug of my company: FestiHopp. Check us out! 🎉

If you would rather put your planning skills to the test, I've got you covered.

 

CARNIVAL: APRIL 8, 2018

PRIME DATES: APRIL 4, 2018 - APRIL 10, 2018

 

WHERE TO STAY

The main events take place in Kingston so that's where you want to stay. You can go the hotel route or if you are feeling more adventurous - and frankly, if hotels are sold out - there are plenty of great Airbnb options to choose from.

Popular hotels in New Kingston include:

  • Jamaica Pegasus Hotel
  • Courtleigh Hotel and Suites
  • Knutsford Court Hotel
  • Spanish Court Hotel
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Terra Nova All Suite Hotel

Their rates range from $135 to $225 per night. 

if you want to find an Airbnb, I've had luck in the following neighborhoods: Norbrook, Liguanea, Constant Spring, Cherry Gardens, New Kingston, Barbican, Stony Hill. Stony Hill is a little out of the way but being nestled in the hills can be a great escape.

HOW TO GET THERE

I remember when flights to Jamaica during carnival time were affordable. Unfortunately, the airlines have caught on and fares have spiked. Unless you are flying out of New York City or Miami, you're likely to find flights between $550 and $700. 

HOW TO GET AROUND

Finding a private driver in Jamaica can prove challenging; On Time Taxi has a chauffeur service that charges by the hour. It gets expensive. For Jamaica Carnival, I would actually recommend using regular cabs to get around.

Another option is to rent a car. Economy cars are going for $350 for the week. If you are going with a group, this might be a worthwhile option but make sure you are comfortable driving in foreign countries, especially in the Caribbean.

HOW TO FETE

The list of Jamaican parties during carnival continues to grow each year. I am curious to see if there are any new offerings for next year's carnival. Popular events include Jamaican staples: Sunrise breakfast party, Frenchmen events, I Love Soca. And several Trinidadian fete imports are making a name for themselves, such as Caesar's Army's AM Bush, Candy Coated Cruise, DJ Private Ryan's Soca Brainwash, Scorch Duck Work. Prices for tickets range from $40 to $100. When party tickets drop, get your coins ready because some of the popular ones do sell out quickly.

HOW TO PLAY MAS

What is carnival without masquerade?

Jamaica now has 4 Carnival bands:

  1. Bacchanal Jamaica
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4. Jamaica Carnival

There are so many lovely costumes to choose from and each band has their own vibe. Next year, female costumes range from $400 to $1100. Men's costume prices average at $500. There are also T-shirt sections if you want the road experience for less.

Check out reviews and make your decision soon before your favorite costume sells out!

GET IN SHAPE

You have 100 days to get your fitness level up. Carnival is for those who can endure staying on their feet for hours and dance in the streets for miles and miles.

TENTATIVE BUDGET

(BASED ON A 2-PERSON TRIP; COSTS ARE FOR EACH PERSON)

  • Accommodations: $200 - $900
  • Flight: $400 - $700
  • Transportation: $200 - $300
  • Fetes: $200 - $400
  • Costume: $400 - $1100
  • Spending Money: $300 - $500

TOTAL: $1,700 - $3,900

 

Happy planning and see you on the road!