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Your Carnival Band / Costume - Top 5 Things You Must To Know

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Everything You Need To Know About Trinidad Carnival Band Costumes

How to plan, what you get and how to choose the right band.



Welcome to my first Wine! Planning your first Carnival can be stressful. Learn all there is to know when choosing which band to play and what comes with your costume purchase.


“What's included in your band / costume registration?"


Here Are The Top 5 Things You Need To Know About Carnival Bands & Costumes

1. Research & List Out Your Top Bands


Each year Carnival falls on the Monday/Tuesday prior to lent, this next year, 2021 it will fall on February 15-16. To participate in Carnival, as a "masquerader" you have to register with a band. Your band is the organized group with paraders in same/similar costume designs and accommodations. There are various bands whom offer differing services, values, costume looks and accommodations.


Choosing your band can seem stressful but today most bands offer similar packages which makes the choosing a bit more stress-free.

  • Here is a chart which compares Top / Most Popular Bands for your review. That said, most people choose their band based the costume design and the type of environment they are looking to achieve from the group.

  • I've detailed some this in the chart linked above. However, I also recommend skimming through each bands facebook photos as well to get a better feel for the environment.



2. Plan Early!


Now that you've looked through your top band choices, its time to pick your costume.


June:

  • Bands release their themes & costume design. This is your chance to go through your top bands and decide which costumes you like best. I recommend making your list of top choice costumes and setting reminders when they go on sale.


July/August:

  • Most bands release their costumes for purchase. Depending on the band/costumes you choose, some sell out immediately, which is why you need to plan early and be ready to register as soon as they're released.

  • Some lines like, Samantha Ammon's (S.AM @samantaammon) TRIBE line (which I was lucky to wear) is super exclusive and nearly impossible to get so staying on top of releases and building connections early is recommended!



3. Picking Your Costume Placement


If you checked out costume prices, it's likely you've become overwhelmed. Hopefully some what I have to share can ease some of this concern.


First off, if you haven't check already, costume prices can range from around $400 - $2000.


Pricing varies by band offerings /accommodations (ie: all-Inclusive or not, etc) and your

placement in your band. Ladies, this mainly relevant for us. That's because when you choose your costume, you have more choices. You need to decide the placement you want; Section Leader, Front Line, Back Line, etc. So what does that mean? The larger feathers aka "backpacks" and more add-on's you have the closer you will be to the front and more you will pay. Hence, the terms: Section Leader, Front Line, Back Line, etc.


Tips: To Help You Understand Costumes, Pricing & What You Get:

What is "Front Line"?

Front Line Costumes lead the band across the stage.


These costumes are the most elaborate and therefore cost the most. They include a backpack which are your feathers and can include add-ons (arm pieces, leg piece, headpieces, etc).


Front Line can be broken out by:

  • Section Leaders - Typically includes largest backpack and all add-on's.

  • Front Line Large Backpacks - Large backpack

  • Front Line Small Backpacks - Small backpack

Below photos show examples of each (description on top)...


What is "Back Line"

Back Line Costumes are still beautiful and can have features "backpacks".These costumes are less expensive and to be honest easier to manage. They also vary amongst backpacks, and add-on's.

Back Line can be broken out by:

  • Back Line - Small Backpack + add-on's

  • Back Line - Small Backpack

  • Back Line - No Backpack

Below photos show examples of each (description on top)...



Last but not least you have Guy's Costumes.


Guy's Costumes usually include shorts, hats, arm, chest and waist pieces but again it varies by band.


Below photo shows an example...





4. Pricing & Payments


So I mentioned costume pricing can range from around $400 - $2000. And again, your pricing will vary by band and costume placement.


But there is good news!


When you choose your costume and register for your band, you don’t have to pay in full at this time. So if you are booking your costume in July/August, when they are released, you can pay off the total over time.


When you register, you’ll be asked to put down a deposit, but depending what you put down the remainder can be paid when you arrive to Trinidad, thats not until February.



5. Don't Forget to Schedule Your Pick-Up

As the weeks lead up to Carnival (about a month before) you will start receiving emails to schedule your costume pick-up.


Once you know your schedule and have the location for your costume pick-up, you can map out the distance and schedule your pick-up time.


Tip: Schedule your pick-up as early as you can after arriving!

Why?
  • There can be a long wait time. Last year, I heard some people waited hours, although I also heard this wasn't the norm.

  • Check your costume. You want to make sure you have all your pieces, you also want to make sure you know how to put on your costume (ladies, they can be tricky).

  • Try on your costume. Not only do you want to make sure you know how to put it on, you also want to make sure it fits.


They have staff at these pick-up's there to help with any of these fitting concerns. Again, this is why you want to go early in case there are any issues you can have it fixed with time to spare.


Here is an example of the TRIBE's costume distribution schedule...



6. You Get A Lot With Your Purchase - Surprise!


We talked about costume pricing and how it can varies and I am here to end with good news! You get a lot with your band registration/costume purchase.


I can't lie, I too was a bit stressed when I paid off my costume balance. However, after I saw the costume and all that it came with I was pleasantly surprised with what you get for the price. Besides the beautifully hand-made costumes (which believe me, ladies when you see all gorgeous feathers and work that goes into these costumes, your childhood dreams of becoming a beautiful princess will feel like reality!), you do get a lot!

Here are details to what comes with your band / costume purchase...

(note it may vary by band)


  • Tuesday costume (this is the colorful feathers/beaded costumes I mentioned)

  • Goody Bags

o Example of things that come in your bag (again varies by band)

· Carnival Mug (Don’t lose this, this your drink cup for the days)

· Sneaker (photoed below)

· Gym bag

· Beauty items: Lip Gloss, Lashes, Beauty Tap, Press-on Nails, etc

· Snacks; Local brand: Chips, Drinks, Mints

· Small Carrying bag

  • Your Band (entry wrist band)

o Access to Carnival Monday and Tuesday

o Your band (group) participation

o Security

o Medical Aid

o Music / DJ Trucks

o Potty Trucks

o Food Tickets (both Monday and Tuesday)

· Breakfast truck, Sit-down lunch, Snack

o Drink Trucks (with top shelf liquor)

  • Some bands even include:

o Resting Trollies/Trucks

o After Party Access “Las Lap”

o Cool down zones

o Re-touch Zones (for makeup, hair and costumes)

o Massage Stations

  • And some even provide:

o Monday wear costume

· Well not all band include this, The band I played, SAM of TRIBE did.

· Here's what we wore.



If your band doesn't include Monday wear, Check out this local's site for Monday wear designer contacts.


Your Monday Wear Designer List:

click here for details

Monday wear is more casual and definitely more comfortable/casual than Tuesday. So have fun with your Monday attire.


For your Complete Carnival Packing Guide, click here. Also, for more on everything you need to know about Trinidad Carnival, click here.


So, now that you have ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR CHOOSING & COMPLETING YOUR TRINIDAD & TOBAGO CARNIVAL COSTUME PURCHASE, I can't wait to see your photos and hear your stories!


Please comment and share your photos, let me know if this help ease your costume registration process.

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