Get ready to walk through a sea of colors, costumes, music and all-around great vibes. The Saint Lucia Carnival is a month long event of nothing but good times and is an experience you won’t want to miss. Saint Lucia is well known for its lush mountain tops and pristine waters so this festival is a great excuse to visit and enjoy all this island has to offer. Read on for everything you must know about the Saint Lucia Carnival.
The history of the Saint Lucia Carnival is pretty interesting. The first recorded celebration or carnival was in 1947 on Shrove Monday and Tuesday after World War II, making it a celebration of freedom and religion. Groups gathered in the streets with make-shift costumes and danced to just about anything they could make a beat with. Saint Lucia is packed with African, French and English history giving this festival a special cultural influence. Just a year after this celebration, Shrove Tuesday was declared a holiday, and the event became a yearly tradition. The costumes would get more extravagant year after year, making this festival a hot commodity.
Now, the festival is known for the heart throbbing live music and the party that never stops. Groups from all over the world gather together to dance in the streets of Castries, Saint Lucia and keep the festival going for a whole month. It stands as St. Lucia’s largest cultural festival with over 10,000 costumed revellers marching in the parade, 30,000 spectators and thousands more watching at home through live feed.
The more colorful, bedazzled and feathered, the better. Leading up to this carnival the hype is immeasurable. Local stylists work tirelessly to create the hottest costumes on the island, and they do sell out so you must act quickly. The African influence takes these ensembles to a whole new level. Women adorn headdresses and even wings made from the biggest brightest feathers and from here it is customary to show some skin with beaded bikinis. The make-up is fierce and vibrant, and you will see people proudly wearing body paint, ornate headdresses, and bright musical jewelry. The costumed revellers march through the streets for everyone to take in the beauty, from here eyes have so much to see with floats also heavily decorated for the occasion and steel drum bands hyping the crowd every step of the way.
What to expect
The Carnival is usually defined by the march that takes place on “Carnival Monday” but this carnival extends through multiple events happening over days throughout the city. If you plan on partying and attending many of these events, there is a lot to expect.
Expect to get wet, many of these parties have a fun way of getting everyone cooled off in the tropical heat. The rain you see will not always be water, as many like to paint each other or throw colorful clouds of powder. The days truly blend together because there is always something to do, so get a good night’s sleep in the days leading up to the event.
Also, expect to be outside and walking most of the day, following the party along the island is most of the fun. The party will go on even if you are not ready, so here is the best list of essential items you need to make the Saint Lucia Carnival the best experience.
Essentials you need:
- Some styling sunglasses – beat the sun and look good while doing it.
- “Vex Money” – this is what the islanders call your get-away stash in case you need a taxi.
- Portable charger – You will want to snap some pictures with your phone. Also, if you get lost or need a ride you do not want a dead phone.
- Your national flag – It is a tradition to see a sea of flags flying proudly in the crowd during the parade.
- Water-proof bag or case – Needed to keep your valuables safe from the water.
- Extra costume, makeup and sunscreen.
- Refillable water bottle – It is important to keep hydrated and a refillable bottle is convenient, plus it reduces plastic waste on the island.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Possible sewing kit, or tape/glue in case of any costume malfunctions.
- Bathing suit and lots of clothing you don’t mind sweating or getting wet in.
Where to Stay
When you first enter the beautiful island of Saint Lucia with your festival gear in tow, you probably need somewhere to rest amid all the partying. The Harbor Club St. Lucia is a tropical paradise overlooking the Rodney Bay Marina, and offers luxurious suites with full range of space to accommodate your long stay for the festivities. The Harbor Club is only a 20 minute drive from Castries, so for your convenience boats and buses are always available for tours.
The beautiful costumes will have you believing everyone is Island royalty, but only one of the revellers will become Queen. The Saint Lucia Carnival Queen Pageant takes place on June 30th, making it the big event to kick off the month-long party. You can see the newly crowned queen at the Road March which takes place on July 16th and 17th.
There is really no set start or stopping date to the Carnival, but most of the main events begin on July 4th. You can find a great guide to the 2019 Carnival here.
Saint Lucia awaits you and all your festival savvy friends. The Saint Lucia Carnival brings people from countries all across the world, so never feel out of place because the vibes are nothing but positive and welcoming. The key to having a great time at the Saint Lucia Carnival is to have all of your essentials and create a game plan so you don’t miss a thing. The parties don’t stop on or off land, so it would be hard to not have a great time. The festival features different bands and parties every year, so it is time to create a tradition.