Carnival · Jamaica · Travel

SMILE JAMAICA

Going to Jamaica was honestly the best experience I’ve had so far. It was my first solo and international trip. I didn’t think I was going because I was having financial issues and I started to tell my friends I wasn’t going.But I finally started a new job and money was flowing in.If I didn’t go I would’ve been so depressed and angry. Anyways I went and I’m so glad I went but next year I will do some things differently.

The Planning

I’m not going to lie , I didn’t know Jamaica had a carnival until a friend told me about it. You probably didn’t either so don’t feel bad. I’m a huge researcher so after hearing Jamaica had an annual carnival I went straight to Google. Jamaica has been celebrating carnival for over 30 years.

I learned that Jamaica has three major bands , Xaymaca , Xodus , & Bacchanal. So I did what most people do & follow their instagrams and turn post notifications on. Band launch was in November and I patiently waited to see the costumes. I learned the date which was April 28 and I started tracking flights on Google Flights & Hopper to Kingston. I learned the carnival route & I looked at some hotels and Airbnb’s in the New Kingston area. I fell in love with my costume . I chose Band : Bacchanal JA Section : Salacia & Neptune. After picking my costume , I started making payments towards everything. I also joined a few groups and chats to stay informed. I didn’t want to do too much partying this trip so I only bought Bacchanal Jouvert & Baywatch. I’ll do more fetes next year ( Afloat , Soca Brainwash, etc.)

Okay So Lets Break It Down

Flight – $450

NY – Kingston

Montego Bay – NY

10 Hour Layover 😫

AirBnb – $250

I was actually surprised to find an Airbnb so cheap and I bought it two weeks before my trip.

Costume – $450

Frontline , Wire Bra , Feathered Collab

FINALLY in Jamaica , picked up from the airport by my AirBnB host , settled in to my AirBnB, freshened up and headed to the band camp. Okay so this is my first experience playing mas and I can’t compare to other bands. But from my experience, Bacchanal JA was overall amazing and professional with a few hiccups. Although my costume was sold out , I reached out via Instagram and the costume was made available . I’m not sure if any band does this but I’m forever grateful. Distribution was at the mas band camp was easy and fast. I gave my name to a lady and waited. I was offered a free beverage. Waiting time took bout 10-15 minutes. I was called into another room , given my costume in a big box , shown each piece , and then I went to a second table to get my goodie bag and wristbands. Just a tip to put a sign outside that says “Pick Up Costume Here”. Also the big box is not needed , everything could’ve went inside the goodie bag.

The Fete Life

Before carnival , I went to two parties , Bacchanal Jouvert and Baywatch.

Listen JAMAICANS love soca , don’t believe what you hear. In my opinion I feel like the ticket should’ve been included if you’re playing mas although it was only $30. The jouvert started at the mas camp , the crowd was so huge ! Paint was on the side but nobody was throwing paint , powder , water , nothing. There were a few artists , Nailah Blackman and Machel Montano. After partying for a few hours , we were instructed out on the streets behind the trucks. We followed the trucks , dancing and vybing until morning. It was a great jouvert and I will go again.

Let me just commend Captain Jason Benn for throwing a party in another country ! Although there were more popular parties , Baywatch had an amazing turnout . The music was great , the people were fun , and there was a crazy girl dancing in a tree ( wink wink ) . For $65 VIP I enjoyed myself and kept going to the bar and telling the bartender “Put Anything!” I also took a picture with my fav DJ Kevin Crown . To be honest , I’m not even sure how I woke up for carnival the next day.

The Road

“She really love the road , she nuh care bout nothing else but the road” I finally get to truly understand this song. I’m a known stormer so it was definitely different being on the other side. First of all , you need help putting on the costume . Luckily my Airbnb host helped me and took wonderful pictures of me. I was late so I don’t know where the band started but I found my band and just blended in with the crowd. I went straight to the drinks. After getting my drink , I started chipping , dancing , and just carrying on with no behavior whatsoever. I’m still waiting to see videos. The truck was constantly moving. Im used to the truck stopping and I get a chance to show off waist . The times I did stop and wine , I got left . The lunch was around 1 , the line wasn’t too bad , the food was ok , and I definitely needed to rest my feet. After lunch we were back on the road , my energy was revived and I went back to having no behavior . The security played no games ! They were a bit too aggressive and started getting on my nerves. For the music , I expected more dancehall / reggae but it was nice to hear the little that was played. I also wish I heard more newer soca. Overall , I had a great experience!

Listen I love my country , but please get UBER ! If I didn’t get a nice young man to drive me around , I would be stranded. Have at least 3-5 driver numbers before you go!

Note : There’s some carnival language in here that some people might not understand but I will define some terms very soon.

Smoovee Tips

  • Carnival takes place in Kingston , Jamaica .
  • Carnival is usually in April.
  • The bands all have their own route and won’t meet.
  • Band launch is usually in November.
  • Follow each bands Instagram to stay informed.
  • Look for accommodation near New Kingston.
  • There is no Uber at the moment.
  • Join a few group chats to stay informed.

Check out all of the videos and pictures on my Instagram – @kayysmooveereviews!

Please note this is my honest opinion based on my own travels . Everyone has their own experience.

The post above contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no cost to you. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will benefit my readers.

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MIAMI BRINGING HEAT

Miami carnival is one of the affordable carnivals you can go to. I’ve gone three years in a row but I hadn’t played mas.

In 2019 , I played with Freaks Mas and we won Band of the Year !!!

I decided in August to go to Miami Carnival. I had already went on so many trips and about to take a big trip in November. But I was convinced to go and I’m so glad I went. It was a little annoying planning because of many factors . The major hiccup was my check was about a month late but I worked my part time job to make some extra cash until I received my check. Now I use Digit for times like these.

Choosing A Costume

Everything was at a stand still because I received a check a month late. I originally wanted to play with Savage Mas Jungle Fever frontline option but it sold out before my check came. I’m the type of person to have to fall in love with the costume. I don’t necessarily pay attention to the band until I choose the costume. I received negative vibes from one band and decided they didn’t need my money . Customer service is very big to me and if I feel disrespected then that’s it ! But I saw Freaks Mas Achilles costume and I fell in love with it. Luckily Freaks Mas is in New York and I had the option to pick it up and have it in my suitcase until I needed it. Distribution took less than an hour . I was fitted for my bra and instructed on how to put on all the pieces. The price includes entrance to Jouvert , food and drinks for Jouvert , entrance to Carnival , food and drinks for Carnival , and of course the costume .

Finally Time To Go

The day has finally arrived! Finally all packed and ready , I order an Uber to LGA . I’m always hours early because I don’t like the long lines at TSA and I never want to miss a flight. NEVER !

As you can see I had a layover . I think of layovers as catching the next train but I try my best to fly nonstop going home. However , Charlotte airport is neatly decorated and very easy to maneuver. I found my gate in no time to catch the next flight.

The apartment was amazing, enough space for me and my two friends. The apartment included two bedrooms , two bathrooms , kitchen , and living room.I was a little too hype for a washer & dryer . We also had access to a pool , jacuzzi , gym and other amenities.

With over 100 parties for Miami , people kept asking me which ones I would be going to. Over the years I haven’t really enjoyed the parties in Miami. I wanted to try a few new ones. I chose based on preference and variety.

Let The Pumpin’ Start

With a quick change , liquor store run , and nap , I was ready for the first party. I decided to skip the popular $2 fete and head over to Darkers. Darkers is presented by Freaks Mas.

At first I thought what the hell !!! It was empty but I don’t necessarily need a crowd. The first DJ , whoever you are , you played amazing with the old school reggae and soca. I was pretty much one of the few people dancing and vibing. If the music is good I’m dancing !!!! Around 2:30/3 I blinked and the place was full. The music was really good and I enjoyed myself. I loved the venue , Treehouse. The decor made you feel like you were in an actual treehouse. It definitely filled my childhood dream of being in a treehouse.

After a nail salon dilemma , I was ready for Friday party , Rise & Shine ! I remember I didn’t like the set up at all. I understand you want to separate VIP and general but I prefer small gates or barricades. I didn’t like the “cage”. Other than that from what I remember it was a decent party and I enjoyed myself. From the pictures , the rain didn’t bother anyone at Shine ! I left early to catch Shorts & Shades. Luckily I was only 8 minutes away driving and I showered and changed to head over to the boat. By the time I arrived it started drizzling and then a few minutes after , it was pouring. Luckily everyone was shielded from the rain. With a little delay , we were finally on the boat. Of course I went straight to the food. The boat ride was vibes !!!! I was a little scared though , one push and I could’ve fell into the water. I don’t remember drinking but I got drunk once again and didn’t even realize I won a free trip. Two parties in one day and all I wanted was my bed but I’m going to try and do 3-4 parties in a day.

Jouvert morning I drunk like a fish , I out on the road ! I blacked out at Jouvert . I remember bits and pieces and I wish I had more to say. From what my friends were telling me I had an amazing time! Sobered up and well rested I headed to One Fete. I love concerts! I saw Farmer Nappy , Swappi , Nadia Batson , Kes , and more. I wish I was in VIP so I could be a lot closer but I’m glad it wasn’t a cage ! I could still see the artists clearly and still had a great time. Kes definitely left me feeling inspired and positive about the way music is supposed to unite each other. I almost shed a tear and y’all know thugs don’t cry !

The BIG Moment

Crazy peopleeeeeeeeeeeee ! Finally on the other side of the fence , I was colorful in my costume and ready to party from morning to night ! It was pretty easy finding Freaks Mas. I ate a little bit and I went back to my friends truck. I stayed with them until it was time to move. Originally I was going to stay with my friend but something told me go to my band ! I’m so glad I did ! The vibes were unmatched ! From distribution to the road everything exceeded my expectations! Exceptional customer service with the section leader from the very beginning, he was very patient and understanding. He went around organizing the crowd , handing out drinks , and just vibing with us. Listen I love my belly and I ate about six times! A drink was always in my hand but I didn’t get too drunk cause I had to find my friends. I will definitely play with Freaks Mas again because of the family vibe I received at the Friday showcase , the outstanding customer service , the well seasoned food , no rudeness from anyone , and of course the gorgeous costumes! It was my first time crossing a stage and I’m not sure how we were judged but I’m happy we won !

It’s the day after Carnival and there’s only one party that will make me stay an extra day in Miami ! SSS BLUE ! I’ve been to several SSS parties but this one is my all time favorite! First of all it’s a cooler fete , so bring your own liquor ! Second of all , it’s a get dutty fete with paint and powder! Third of all , the paint and powder is my favorite color , BLUE ! I learned my lesson from last year and just bought my bottle , no cooler. I was only disappointed in the food which is probably why I got drunk really fast. But other than that it was the perfect way to end my carnival experience.

So for Miami I decided to bring about $300 spending money and $200 emergency money. I don’t think I spent $300. Most of the Uber’s / Lyfts were less than $10. If I bought drinks at parties , I only bought one and pregamed before I got there. I spent a little on food. I’m not a newbie to Miami so I know how to spend when necessary.

I recommend Miami Carnival for all the carnival virgins , it’s safe , fun , and a different experience! If you need any help , contact me !

Talk Di Tings

⁃ DJS please stop playing the Top 40 songs.

⁃ I wish there was more in my swag bag for Freaks Mas.

⁃ Even though I stayed with friends , I partied solo for the most part & still managed to meet a fete friend or two , you will never be completely alone .

⁃ I chose parties based on preference , I wanted a variety .

⁃ I washed all of my clothes before I left !

⁃ I did walk around the neighborhood and saw some nice Cuban art and I ate Cuban food.

⁃ I made a friend at the airport and we took an Uber from LGA saving us both money.

⁃ Do what YOU want to do!

Smoovee Tips

1. Most people fly to Miami airport , but you can also fly to Fort Lauderdale airport and take an Uber for $20 or less.

2. Most people like to stay near South Beach and the famous “Strip” but I like to stay near Wynwood since most events are held there .

3. There are tons of bands to choose from , choose by what you like and based on reputation and price .

4. Phone service is horrible at Jouvert and Carnival , have a meeting spot if you get lost.

5. $550 might seem like a lot but it covers the entry to Jouvert on Saturday morning along with food and drinks , your choice of a shirt or bodysuit for Jouvert , your actual costume plus food and drinks on Carnival day. There are payment plans set up .

6. Over the years , I’ve learned on how to spend in Miami , so I would suggest a budget of $2000 just in case.

Check out all of the videos and pictures on my Instagram – @kayysmooveereviews !

Please note this is my honest opinion based on my own travels . Everyone has their own experience.

Check out my travel apparel – HERE

The post above contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no cost to you. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will benefit my readers.