Carnival is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Hundreds of revelers line the streets in gorgeous glittery costumes, while drinking and dancing to the sweet sounds of Soca music. And imagine, this only happens on one day. The other blissful days are filled with fetes, j’ouvert, good vibes and more. What makes the Bahamas special among other carnivals, is the infusion of Junkanoo, which represents the Akan culture of the Bahamas.

This year’s festivities begin on Thursday, April 30th, and for those who are attending Bahamas Carnival for the first time, here’s your guide to all of the food, fun and fetes the island has to offer.

The Basics

Because the Bahamas Carnival bacchanal events take place on the island of Nassau, you’ll want to fly into Lynden Pindling International Airport. Since there’s only one international airport, getting to the island is fairly simple, with non-stop flights from major metropolitan cities such as New York, Miami, Atlanta and more. If hotels are your choice of stay for the weekend, then you’ll want to check out Baha Mar or Atlantis, which offers not only spectacular hotel offerings, but also plenty of activities. Rosewood Baha Mar, which also will be hosting the Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival, starts at $659, while the Cove Atlantis is priced at $407 and Coral at Atlantis $178. Of course AirBnb is a more affordable option if you’re ballin’ on a budget, and want your own privacy without the crowds and price tag.

Getting around Nassau is extremely easy. Because it’s a popular tourist destination, taxis and cabs are regular, and easy to hail. If you’re staying at a larger hotel, they’ll usually just parked right out front, but you can also contract drivers to take you around and pick you up anywhere you want for a fee. Public transport is another option with jitneys that travel throughout the island, making it easily accessible wherever you decide to stay.

The Experience

Thursday, April 30th

Weeks before the official carnival weekend, major soca infused events start popping up on the island but most of the official festivities will take place from April 30- May 3. Like any true carnival experience, your first introduction to the weekend will be j’ouvert.  Jouvert is associated with the emancipation of slavery which allowed slaves the freedom to participate in carnival starting in year 1838 and now the celebration is still glorified today as a worldwide expression of freedom. Bahamas is a little different, where the fete begins at night and goes until the early hours of the morning. Indulge in a wave of excitement with Dutty Crew J’ouvert – Cowboys vs. Aliens, which begins at 9pm and goes until 3am. Expect Premium Drinks, Paint, Powder, Music and vibes. At around 11pm is when you’ll finally hit the road for the J’ouvert Road March, with sweet soca music playing throughout the streets as you chip down the road to local and international DJs. 

Friday, May 1

As part of the official Carnival activities, you’ll want to support the Rising Stars Song Competition. Later that Friday, La Vie’s all-inclusive garden party at the Nassau Botanical Gardens from 4-11:30pm is the ultimate after work Friday evening turn up. Prepare to come dressed and cute, as this will be the most chic event of the weekend. You’ll enjoy top-shelf drinks and delicious food options from around the Caribbean to the backdrop of soca music. This is definitely an event you do not want to miss. If you’re looking for another option, Lagoon Fete is the beach party you need in your life. It overlaps with La Vie’s party, but extends until 1am, and takes place on Pearl Island.

Saturday, May 2

Road March begins at 10:00am at Mas Camp located at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. This is the single best part of the weekend as beautiful masqueraders from all different bands prepare to get ready for the road ahead, which ends around dusk. If you’re unsure which band to join, Bahamas Masqueraders is sure to make all of your carnival dreams come true. Band sections include Golden Empire, Nubian Kingdom, Royal Dynasty and Maya Maya, each of which is beautiful and unique in its own way. Expect sweet soca music, inclusive food and drink on the road, and of course hydration, because it will most certainly get hot while you are out there. Other band options include: Xtasy Mas, Enigma Carnival, Euphoria Madness and Island Rhythms.

Sunday, May 3

The party is not over just yet. Now, it’s time for the cool down. Revive’s morning breakfast boat ride starts at 8:30am, and offers all inclusive food and drink all morning long. This will give you superpowers for your next event, which is Suits by Icebox Entertainment. This is perhaps the most anticipated fete of the weekend, as it is an ultimate floating j’ouvert in the ocean. Boarding begins at 1:30pm, and expect to be on the water until 7:00pm. Let this be a warning that you will get body paint and colorful smoke bombs, along with rum and possibly other bubbly liquids splattered on you in celebration so make sure you’re ready for a party. Waves boat ride is another option for those looking for some fun in the sun, which also boards at 1:30 pm, and leaves from Potter’s Cay Dock at 2:45pm.