Updated: Nov 8, 2020
Everything You Need to Know to Plan Your Carnival Fetes + What to Wear
BONUS One fete you CAN'T miss, including your Carnival Packing List
Learn about the Fetes of Trinidad. Get tips on how to plan, what to pack and MUST go events!
“What are Carnival fetes, why do I should you go and what should you pack?"
First of all, you'll need to know, what is a Fete? It's a party or celebration and leading up to Carnival there are tons of fetes to help you prepare for the fun!
So why do I recommend attending Pre-Carnival fetes?
Fete's are a part of the Carnival experience, there’s significance to attending these fetes.
Obviously fetes are to "lime" aka to hang out/gathering
Another, main reason to fete before Carnival is to learn the music.
Music is a BIG part of Carnival; the country awards a “Road March” winner determined by the song played most by the bands as cross the stage Tuesday…
Stage Not Good Again, by one of my favorite Trini artist KES won this year.
Each year new music is released for the Carnival seasons. This music is played or performed at all the fetes leading up to and through Carnival.
Pre-Carnival Fete'in is a way learn the new music of the season and pick their favorite songs for Road March.
Tip: Learn the music, I recommend checking out some of these Soca and Calypso vibes here.
New year’s music comes out around November.
Moral of the story, I recommend making time to come to Trinidad a few days prior to Carnival to attend Pre-Carnival fetes. Learn the music, see performances, practice your wining and meet other people Playing Mas in your band!
Planning Your Fete Schedule
Now that you know why you should attend Pre-Carnival fetes, know that there will be more fetes than you'll be able to attend. A lot of fetes have a similar vibes however there are also some with unique themes, ie: paint fetes, boat fetes, day fetes, brunch fetes, costumed fetes, etc.
In order to get the most out of you Pre-Carnival limin', you'll have to do some pre-planning...
Top 5 Steps To Plan Your Carnival Fetes
Plus: How To Pack!
1. Create A Budget
decide what you want to spend. Fetes can cost between $70-$100 per fete. So they're not cheap
however most fetes are all-inclusive meaning they include drinks and food
but not all do, so make sure you check
2. Create A Schedule
Once you have a budget, create a calendar which includes openings for fetes. Make sure to include time for rest, sleep, getting ready and commuting.
3. Research The Fetes
this site is great and includes a list of all the fetes: here
Determine which fit your schedule, and try cover the various theme's
List out which unique themes you desire.
I recommend incorporating varying themes to get the full experience.
- A night party with live performances, like TRIBE ignite.
- A daytime boat party, like STRUTS Carnival Cruise
- A daytime brunch, like Soca Brunch
- A themed party, like Soca Brainwash
- And DEFINITELY a J'ouvert/paint party, like Soaka Street Fest, J'ouvert Monday
4. Book Your Fetes Early
I recommend booking by January, as they can sell out.
Tip: don't get overwhelmed, it will seem like a lot but it's worth the experience. Just remember to plan, making time for rest and stay hydrated.
Consider this, some local Trinidadians start their Carnival fetes after the new year, with some “liming” aka celebrating even after Carnival Tuesday. Here's a real life spreadsheets to track their hourly moves. I don't recommend this, for a newbie like myself, I died when I saw this but Im showing this because You can do it!
5. What To Pack for Fetes
Depending on the theme's you choose, you'll have to pack accordingly.
Tip: Make sure to check each event to determine where there is a costume theme as well as what the event entails.
Here's what to wear / how to packing per fete:
1. Themed Fete
Example, Soca Brainwash is a themed event. In 2019 it was 70's themed, last year 2020 it was Asian inspired.
Have fun with the theme, people get into this!
This party starts mid-day and runs to the night.
Its will be in the hot sun so plan for this and pack sunscreen.
Its also warm at night so don't worry about being too cold.
Also know you'll be in a field so I suggest comfortable shoes.
2. Boat Fete
You're on a boat. So wear what you'd wear boating.
Most people wear:
- Girls: bikini's, cover-up (either skirt or kimono), sandals
- Guys: swim trunks, t-shirt or short sleeve button, sneakers or sandals.
Don't forget sunglasses and sunscreen!
Heres a photo of our group at STRUT Carnival Cooler Cruise beginning and during haha...
Note: for STRUTS Carnival Cruise, this was a BYOB event so make sure to get your alcohol and mixers, bring in a cooler! They provide cups and have small snacks on board.
3. Brunch Fete's
These tend to be a bit dresser. Think what you wear to brunch ordinarily.
This would be the only time I'd say you could add in a wedge or heeled shoe but keep it comfortable!
Remember your in the Caribbean so get into the vibe.
Most people wear:
- Girls: sundress, maxi skirts, dresser shorts, etc., sandals, wedges or chunky heel.
- Guys: shorts, dresser t-shirt or short sleeve button, sneakers or sandals.
Again, don't forget sunglasses and sunscreen!
4. Night Fetes
These are fair game, honestly you can wear anything you want to these.
I've see people in dresses (as far as sequins) to casual shorts and even swim entire.
Go with what feels right, have fun with it!
I suggest comfortable shoes, again you'll typically be in field and want to preserve your feet!
I went with the festival vibe look, a lil skin, a lil edge and comfy shoes.
Here is a photo of our group at TRIBE Ignite....
5. Paint Fetes!
Head to my bonus section for more details on these events.
Know you will get dirty so packing for these events are a bit more complex.
I've included a packing list below to help you pack to protect your hair, clothes, shoes and skin from dye. Also included are packing extras for Carnival Monday / Tuesday. Take a look.....
Check out the Official Packing Guide for J'ouvert and Carnival here....
BONUS: You MUST attend at least one of these Fete’s!
A Carnival Paint Party is a MUST!
There are multiple paint fetes that happen before carnival. I attended two: Soaka Street on Sunday and J’ouvert Monday (both start ~3am go through sunrise). These are fetes that include getting dirty! You'll be wining the streets, getting covered in paint, mud, water, even other things like chocolate.
This is an experience was like nothing I have ever seen! To be honest, as a newbie, I definitely recommend participating in J’ouvert.
J’ouvert, which means “dawn” or “daybreak”, starts early Sunday morning and runs through daybreak. It is a tradition that is said to take part in remembrance of disruption that occurred at Port of Spain during the Canboulay riots when people would cover themselves in paint and oils to avoid identified by the British.
So what is J'ouvert?
The night (well technically morning) consists of a parade through the streets where masqueraders cover each other with paint, oils, powders, mud and even chocolate. Like Carnival, to participate in J’ouvert you’ll have to join a band which costs ~$100 but includes the following:
T-shirt and goody bags that vary with things like: visors, masks, goggles, whistles, lip balm, chips
Music / DJ Trucks
Snack and Food
Drink Trucks (with top shelf liquor and mixers)
Paint, Oils, Powders, Mud and Chocolate carts for covering other participants
A Firetruck Hose Down following Daybreak
Ohh and it might be your first time seeing a Jab Jab
So how do you participate in J’ouvert Monday?
Click here to learn more about J’ouvert bands.
Oh and don’t forget if you’re attending J’ouvert which could end around 10am, you only have a few hours before you’ll heading out for Monday Mas.
For more details on everything you need to know about Trinidad Carnival click here.
So, now you've got all the tips PLAN & PACK FOR YOUR CARNIVAL FETES, time to lime and enjoy the experience.
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