Every October, thousands of Carnival lovers descend upon the city of Miami to partake in fetes, glittery costumes, mas, and j’ouvert, all while Soca music is in the background reverberating from the speakers. The city, known for its diverse Caribbean heritage — due to its central adjacency to the region —is known for hosting one of the most popular Caribbean celebrations in the carnival circuit, and gets bigger each year.
From exploring Miami’s cultural neighborhoods, to trying local island food, you’re sure to encounter a version of Miami that you never saw during those spring break visits to South Beach. This year’s festivities begin on Sunday, October 7th, and for those who are attending Miami Broward Carnival for the first time, here’s your guide to all of the food, fun and fetes the city has to offer.
Thursday, October 4th
Last year inside Hookie MIA, Miami Carnival Thursday was a scene. This year Hookie returns to its roots, with an epic pool party, in conjunction with One Island Band and Big and Strong Promotions.Taking place at the Grand Palms Pool Grounds from 2-10pm, grab your your swimsuits, organize your crew and get ready to play hookie. Tickets are available at www.hookielife.com and www.oneislandband.com.
Trini Jungle Juice Arrivals
‘Arrivals’ is your official welcome to Miami Carnival. It serves as the beginning of the Miami carnival journey complete with an 80s themed fete (“Arrivals To The Future”) and soca music from some of the best DJs in the world. Expect an awesome party and an all-encompassing escape from the ordinary.
Friday, October 5th
When Aurora and Candy Coated Events get together, it’s a beautiful experience. This year, they welcome a new carnival event called “Citrus” and its sure to be as sweet as it sounds. If you purchase a ticket, you’ll be able to enjoy a premium all inclusive experience like none other, as Citrus brings a tropic experience to the city of Miami. This is sure to be one of the highlights of all the carnival events.
Scorch Duck Work
Scorch Hybird Miami weekend is bringing you 3 events Miami Carnival weekend that you don’t want to miss, and this is one of them. This day rave will take place from 3-9pm and if you purchase an all-access pass, you’ll experience not one, but 3 events for the price of one, all weekend long.
8th Annual Sun, Rum and Soca Cruise
Prepare to get wet at this sun, rum and soca cruise, which will have you in the water for all the fun. The boat, which will dock at a private sandbar, will feature unlimited food and drinks for all attendees to keep the party going all day long. Remember, swimwear is required so if you don’t want to get in the water, this party isn’t for you! Tickets are available here.
Big Phat Fish
Remember when we mentioned Scorch had 3 events that you would want to miss? Well this is the second, and the all inclusive fete will feature premium open bar all night long. Who doesn’t want to hang in Miami’s Wynwood arts district, while vibing to soca and drinking all night long?
Saturday, October 6th
If you have ever been to the D’Original Vale Breakfast party back home in Trini, then you know you were definitely in for a treat at the one in Miami. Lots of food and lots of drinks to keep you going all night/morning long. Not to mention the great vibes of the people and soca artistes that attended.
Miami Broward Carnival J’ouvert
Paint, powder and water — j’ouvert is the highlight of any carnival experience. Starting at 7am, carnival junkies will wake up at the crack of dawn decked in attire that they’re ready to get wrecked. Food and drinks will be flowing all morning as you fete and twerk in the streets along side the truck and band of your choice.
Scorch + Spice
The third and final event to close out Scorch Hybird Miami before the carnival parade begins on Sunday, Scorch and Spice is a cooler fete featuring performances by Skinny Fabulous and Ding Dong along with all your favorite DJs. Purchase a ticket, or cooler package and enjoy a cooler packed with some of your spirits while you enjoy an evening of fete’ing and soca.
Sunday, October 7th
Miami Broward Carnival Parade and Concert
Get ready for the main event. Bands will line up for one of the biggest mas experiences in North America and One Island Band will be the experience of a lifetime. Miami Broward Carnival Parade and Concert is an all day affair with attendees “on de road” from sun up to sun down, decked in costumes galore, beat faces and feathers everywhere. The evening concludes with a concert featuring performances from some of the biggest soca and reggae artists in the world. Remember, the weekend is a marathon, not a sprint, so make sure you muster up the energy to make it to Carnival Sunday — you won’t want to miss it!
What’s carnival without some food right? While you’re in town, be sure to visit these black-owned restaurants to keep your belly (and your spirit) full all weekend long. You’ll need the fuel to keep you going as you bounce from fete to fete!
Lil Greenhouse Grill
This is Miami soul food at its finest. What started as a neighborhood grill around Overtown turned into a dream come true for Chef Karim Bryant and his partner, Nicole Gates. Enjoy smoked, grilled and freshly prepared seafood, barbecue, salads and sandwiches. Stop by for lunch and dinner and try a hearty platter of rubs, the veggie burger, or the seafood cake dinner.
If you’ve never been to the Bahamas, then you’ve been missing out on the taste of delicious island conch. Well fret no more, as Conch Heaven is bringing the taste of Bahamas to Miami. Famous for their conch salad, this restaurant boasts a menu of traditional dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Treat yourself to the fish stew or the oxtails after you inhale a big bowl of their conch salad!
Looking for some of the best Jamaican food in Miami? Recently relocated to the heart of Little Haiti, you must include a stop at Clive’s Cafe in your Miami Carnival visit. Traditional mannish water soup with goat is local favorite along with their jerk chicken and classic breakfast offerings such as ackee and saltfish. They also offer house made beverages, so you can stay cool (and hydrated) while you take a break from the carnival festivities.
The band to play mas with? One Island Band. One Island Band is known for having the most popular mas band during Miami Broward Carnival. Big & Strong Promotions, which launched the One Island Body Paint band for Miami Carnival in 2006, is one of the biggest bands in the bunch, and provides a celebration of Caribbean culture through a parade of the bands on the streets of Miami/Dade County. Founded by band leader Rolando Jarvis, One Island Band has consistently been starting trends since the band launched. “We bring a new level of production when it comes to the carnival itself,” says Jarvis. “Everything that we try to do, we one up ourselves the following year.”
And One Island’s reputation speaks for itself, having won for best band the past three years in a row. How they do it? “Each year we increase on the quality and type of costumes that we bring to the table,” says Jarvis. “We go through various designers. Which brings us to where we are right now. Over the last three years we have won the competition, back to back, so we know there is a bullseye on us, in terms of, “It’s time for these guys to be dethroned.”
What’s going to be different this year? First and foremost the service, says Jarvis. “After doing it three years in a row we decided that this year we want to focus on making sure that our clientele gets the full 5 star experience from start to finish. We’re not forfeiting in terms of design and what we’re bringing to the table — we’re definitely pulling out all of the stops but at the same time we want to make sure that our clients have a true full carnival experience and enjoy to the fullest. It will be a no brainer in 2019 as to why they’ll be coming back to play with one island.”
Obviously it’s hard to continue to set trends, but One Island makes it look sexy, year after year. Jarvis shared, “We started the trend of bringing out the big screens, and pulling out all of the bells and whistles, and now a lot of other trucks have begun to follow suit with that. The same thing goes with upgrading the quality of the costumes. We started upgrading the quality of the costumes by using top noche designers in order to . It shows across the board just as the carnival is building.”