As we are gearing up for a new carnival year, there’s no better way to celebrate life and culture than by participating in one of the Caribbean’s most spectacular events: St. Lucia Carnival. Known for its vibrant music, dazzling costumes, and infectious energy, the 2024 St. Lucia Carnival is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience Caribbean culture at its finest. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make the most of this unforgettable event.
When and Where
St. Lucia Carnival, which used to take place in February, has since been moved to July so as not to compete with Trinidad and Tobago. It’s a summer spectacle that lights up the entire island, with the main events happening in the capital, Castries. For this year, the carnival will be July 1-17. Keep an eye on the official carnival website for exact dates.
Where to Stay
The best places to stay would be North of the Island in the Rodney Bay or Gros Islet area since most of the fetes would be up that side. Recommended hotels include:
Most bands are gearing up for launching pretty soon, and there are many competitive prices, ranging from $500 to $1600 (doh quote me, cause prices are always subject to change). Here are some of the bands (I will update, so check back often).
Events and Activities
- Calypso Shows: Calypso music is a vital part of St. Lucia’s culture, and the carnival kicks off with calypso tents where local artists showcase their talents.
- Soca Monarch Competition: This event features the best of Soca music, a rhythmic blend that gets everyone dancing.
- Panorama: Steelpan bands compete to deliver the most mesmerizing performances, filling the air with melodious steelpan music.
- King & Queen of the Bands: A competition where the most elaborate costumes are showcased and judged.
- J’ouvert Morning: A traditional street party that starts before dawn. Participants cover themselves in mud, oil, and paint, dancing through the streets to the rhythm of Soca.
- Parade of the Bands: The highlight of the carnival! Bands in colorful, feathered costumes parade through the streets, dancing to the music and competing for the title of Band of the Year.
Tips for Visitors
- Accommodation: Book your accommodation well in advance. Options range from luxury resorts to cozy guesthouses or Airbnb.
- Costume Participation: If you want to participate in the Parade of the Bands, you must join a band and get a costume. This should be done months in advance.
- Local Cuisine: Don’t miss out on local delicacies like saltfish, green fig, and Creole dishes.
- Stay Hydrated: The Caribbean sun can be intense. Drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen.
- Respect the Culture: While it’s a time of celebration, it’s important to respect local customs and traditions.
- Cell Service: Digicel or Flow.
- Electricity: You will need a converter/transformer. Some hotels may have the outlet in the room, and some may not so walk with your converter/transformer just in case. St. Lucia uses 240 volts.
- Camouflage prints are prohibited in the country, so leave that in your home country.
- Stay in Groups: Always travel with friends or in a group, especially at night.
- Secure Valuables: Use hotel safes for important documents and valuables. When in crowded areas, be mindful of your belongings.
- Transportation Safety: Use licensed taxis or transportation services, especially when returning from late-night events, or find groups to organize a driver for you beforehand.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Enjoy the festivities, but remain aware of your surroundings.
- Emergency Contacts: Keep local emergency numbers handy, including those of the nearest embassy (there is no US Embassy in St. Lucia; the closest is in Barbados) or consulate.
- Health Precautions: As health professionals advise, bring any necessary medications and take precautions against tropical diseases.
Understanding the Currency
St. Lucia’s official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD). However, US Dollars are widely accepted in most places. Here are some tips regarding currency:
- Exchange Rates: Be aware of the current exchange rate between the XCD and your home currency.
- Credit Cards and ATMs: Major credit cards are accepted in many establishments. ATMs are available, but it’s advisable to carry some cash for small vendors or rural areas.
- Budgeting: Prices may be higher during carnival season, so budget accordingly for accommodations, food, and activities.
- Tipping: Tipping is customary in St. Lucia, and it’s good practice to tip for services like dining, taxis, and tours. (Be kind and tip well; that is how the locals actually make their money)
St. Lucia Carnival is more than just a party; it’s a showcase of the island’s rich culture, history, and artistic talent. Whether you’re dancing in the streets during J’ouvert, marveling at the colorful costumes, or enjoying the pulsating rhythms of Calypso and Soca, St. Lucia Carnival 2024 promises to be an unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, bring your energy, and immerse yourself in one of the Caribbean’s most vibrant celebrations.
See you in St. Lucia!