We’ve given you roundups and recaps for some of the biggest and baddest carnival celebrations across the African diaspora. Trinidad, Jamaica, Bermuda anyone? Up next is the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Lucia. St. Lucia Carnival 2019 (July 10– 18) is one of those carnival experiences that have been under the radar for quite some time. With the recent surge in popularity of Lucian Soca music aka Dennery Segment, carnival-goers around the globe are adding this unique Caribbean island to their extensive list of carnivals to attend. Boat rides, cooler fetes, live musical performances, parade of bands, j’ouvert and street parties, here’s everything you need to know about living your best carnival life for St. Lucia Carnival 2019.
All of the carnival events take place in the island’s capital, Castries. There are two airports you can fly into: Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) or George F.L. Charles Airport (SLU). The larger airlines and cheapest flights will most likely land at UVF, which is about a 90-minute drive from Castries. Airport transfers vary based on the transportation company but expect to pay anywhere from $30-$75 USD per person one-way. Direct flights to St. Lucia are available on American Airlines from Miami, Charlotte and Philadelphia; on JetBlue from New York and Boston; on Delta Airlines from Atlanta; and on United Airlines from New Jersey and Chicago. Air Canada and WestJet also fly direct from Toronto year-round, while Virgin Atlantic and British Airways provides weekly flights direct from London Gatwick Airport. When booked in advance, tickets prices to St. Lucia for carnival are affordable. Expect to pay anywhere between $400-$900+ round-trip per person.
Where To Stay
The Gros Islet and Rodney Bay neighborhoods in Castries are the best areas to stay on the island during carnival. Most of the carnival events take place in Castries so it only makes sense to be where the action is. Hotels like Bay Garden Resorts, Coco Palm Resort and Harbour Club are the perfect spots to have as your home base. Airbnb and Homeway are also great options for accommodations during your trip, especially when traveling with a group. You can also use a carnival concierge service like Carnival Jumpers for a one-stop shop to book accommodations, transportation, fete tickets and much more. Bonus Tip: The Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD) is the currency used in St. Lucia. The conversion rate is approximately 2.70XCD for every 1USD. Be sure to have some local currency with you throughout the trip to purchase small items from roadside vendors and merchants. While USD is widely accepted, please keep in mind that you will receive change in XCD.
Arranging a private driver will be your best option for getting around. As previously suggested in our other carnival guides, you should setup your transportation with the taxi driver used for your airport transfer when you exit the terminal. Speak with them during the commute to your accommodations about the different events you’re attending and potential places you plan on traveling to while in St. Lucia for carnival. Agree on a price per trip or a set price for the entire duration of your visit and forward! Bonus Tip: Don’t forget that taxis in St. Lucia are not metered. Confirm your fare with the driver in advance.
We Party Plenty
The fete list for St. Lucia Carnival 2019 is on some next level ish! Choose between cooler fetes, boat rides, all-inclusive fetes and more. St. Lucia Carnival is still growing in popularity, so fete tickets are more affordable than the bigger Caribbean Carnivals. Ticket prices will range from $50-$125 USD. As you know, fetes will always be the highlight of your overall carnival experience so it is important to choose your fete lineup wisely. Kick off your carnival partying with Famalay St. Lucia Carnival, a diverse and exciting combination of popular musical artists like Skinny Fabolous, Bunji Gralin, Mr. Killa, Asa Bantan and Shenseea. All-inclusive fetes include an assortment of food options and premium alcohol, demanding a steeper ticket price than other events. Just 4 Fun Carnival’s Escape and Indulgence Breakfast Fete along with Red Unlimited Brunch are a sure thing and won’t disappoint. Cooler fetes and boat rides are the most popular events. Boat rides are parties that sail around the harbor while cooler fetes are events where you are the bartender and bring your own alcohol & ice. You can’t go wrong with fetes like Remedy, Aura, Take Jam, J.O.B. Boat Ride, Transcend Frass Fest and Silent Morning St. Lucia. The Silent Morning Party series has made its way throughout the Caribbean and the United States in places like Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Washington DC and New York City. For their debut in St. Lucia this year, the event is already sold out! Not to worry as you can find tickets for sold out events on the resell website, Fine Ah Ban. Here you can also find costumes and fete tickets for carnivals throughout the Caribbean. Bonus Tip: Nothing beats comfort for carnival. Comfortable shoes that allow you to jump, wave and dance for hours on end is a must. Break in any new shoes you purchased for the trip by wearing them a few times beforehand. Don’t forget to leave your camouflage attire at home. It is illegal to wear in St. Lucia, like in many other Caribbean islands, and is reserved solely for military personnel.
Where To Eat
Do not leave St. Lucia without experiencing the island’s delicious food! From green fig and saltfish to fresh seafood and hot oven bakes, there’s no shortage of yummy, mouthwatering dishes to try. Stop in at The Coal Pot Restaurant for authentic Lucian dishes like saltfish and breadfruit and St. Lucian Crab Back and pumpkin soup. Add an ice-cold Piton beer to your meal for a true Lucian foodie experience. For a friendly spot that the locals flock to, Hardest Hard Restaurant & Bar will fill you with dishes like fish creole, goat peleau, pigtail bouillon and grilled pork chops all served with a heaping side of rice and plantains. Don’t miss the Gros Islet Street Party on Friday night. The most extensive display of authentic local foods will be found here, from barbecue meat to freshly caught fish, conch and lobster. Be sure to bar hop during this street party to find the perfect vibes for you and your crew.
Feel The Music
Outside of the epic fetes, gorgeous Caribbean backdrop and beautiful people, the music for St. Lucia Carnival is truly what makes this experience one of a kind. Known as “Dennery Segment,” this infectious, fast-paced style of music features aggressive drums, high-speed beats and strictly Kreyòl lyrics – the language widely spoken in St. Lucia. While it may be hard to understand, there’s no doubt that the music’s energy can be felt with every pulsating rhythm and instruction-driven lyric. Watch the people around you and follow the crowd. Close Connections Lucian Vaval Vybz has all of the hottest tracks for St. Lucia Carnival 2019. Be sure to have this playlist on repeat in preparation for your Lucian Carnival experience.
Paint, Oil, Mud & Water
What’s carnival without the mud, oil, paint, and powder of j’ouvert? J’ouvert (pronounced jou-vay) is a large street party whose name comes from the French phrase “jour ouvert,” which means dawn or daybreak. St. Lucia Carnival 2019 offers two j’ouvert experiences. Drinks-inclusive Soak’t is a combination beach party and j’ouvert with live performances to keep the party going from 3am to 10am. For the ultimate j’ouvert party, do Jab Jab with Just 4 Fun Carnival. Revelers are free to jump, dance and get on bad alongside music trucks blasting the rhythmic sounds of Soca music starting at 3am until they can no longer feel their feet. Bonus Tip: Be sure to wear shoes and clothing you won’t mind throwing away when j’ouvert has ended. You will get dutty!
Get In Your Section!
St. Lucia Carnival is a two-day costumed parade that takes place on the third Monday (July 15th) and Tuesday (July 16th) in July. Revelers wear their full costume on Carnival Monday. Carnival Tuesday is the day when you wear whatever you like such as parts of your Carnival Monday costume or create something new like a blinged out monokini or decorated wire-bra. For the guys, they often wear the shorts from Carnival Monday and a t-shirt of their choice. There are a number of bands to choose from for St. Lucia Carnival with each being different from the other. Band options include Xuvo Carnival, Fuzion Mas, Legends Carnival, Red Unlimited, Island Tribe, Asari Tribe, Taboo Carnival and Just 4 Fun Carnival. Registration with one of these bands ensures that you will have the best carnival experience on the road. Perks included are alcoholic & non-alcoholic drinks, music, lunch & dinner, security, on-site paramedics, mobile restroom, and your costume. You can also elevate your road experience for St. Lucia Carnival with some bands. For example, Just4Fun Carnival offers two top tier levels - Indulgence and Eminence - that includes platinum amenities like cold towels, air-conditioned lounges, ultra premium drinks and expedited costume pickup. Some bands also include a final fete with their registration where masqueraders can attend this last hurrah before heading back to reality at no additional cost to them. On Wednesday, July 17th, Xuvo Carnival offers a Live N Colour Band Party and Just4Fun Carnival’s Las Lap Mas on the same day is a drink-inclusive event free to all 2019 masqueraders and open to the public at an additional cost. The cost of your costume depends on which band you choose, section selected, and any add-ons included. For the ladies, backline costumes range from $350-$600 USD whereas frontline costumes can come in between $650-$900 USD. Male costumes are usually within the $300-$400 USD range. Bonus Tip: Please be sure to drink responsibly. As mentioned in our previous carnival guides, you cannot outdrink the drinks truck. They will always win! Wear high SPF sunscreen and stay hydrated throughout the day because that St. Lucian sun is not to be played with. Also, be sure to follow the 1:1 rule – one bottle of water for every alcoholic drink consumed. Pack your bags because you’re ready to conquer St. Lucia Carnival 2019! Keep safety first always; travel in groups, use the buddy system at all times and be aware of your surroundings. Use the tips and suggestions provided in this guide to ensure your St. Lucia Carnival is epic.