Already in mid-January and we are seeing social media posts of costumes & carnival launches, presentations and fetes. However, with over 100 Caribbean carnivals worldwide. Which carnival do you attend? What one is the best? Better still, just how much can you afford as not everyone can fly around the world going to every carnival or fete. Nevertheless, we do have some fearless soca globetrotters who are always ready to fete!
…. So, what’s the Real Soca Deal’s carnival spotlights for 2019?
I love carnivals and I especially love travelling, experiencing other Caribbean carnival cultures. That said, based on my ventures over the past few years, here are my tips for your carnival ‘must reach’ visits for this year!
Guyana Carnival, Guyana
Guyana carnival is my spotlight for this year. It is also an exciting time for Guyana with its carnival only in its second year. Guyana, keen to promote tourism and increase the popularity of its country, introduced the carnival through a combination of entertainment bodies, the government and other key stakeholders. This new carnival is separate from the well-known Mashramani and is also held later, in May. Guyana has a lot to offer than just the carnival, with its infamous plush rain forests, waterfalls and its indigenous wildlife species.
Ibiza Soca festival
The Ibiza Soca festival was the top of my list for 2018. Originally launched a few years ago, the team pulled off an excellent job with the fetes, artists and locations. A big massive tick. It was literally fete after fete, held in fantastic venues, with top DJ’s and a selection of the finest soca artists performing. If you have not registered for 2019 check out the Ibiza Soca Festival website or the ISF Instagram for more information. Or read the Real Soca Deal Review of the Ibiza Soca Festival 2018
This carnival is going from strength to strength with its fetes that are almost akin to Trinidad with top DJs and artists flying in from around the world to perform. This carnival is firmly on the map and not to be missed. Read last year’s review of the carnival Jamaica Bacchanal 2018
Labor Day, New York
Labor day is little talked about, but it is a big carnival and draws in all the top Soca artists and DJs. Its annual hosting of Sunny Side up and Tipsy fetes are amazing but J’ouvert for me is the pinnacle. For its back to the originality of J’ouvert with no DJ’s on the truck, playing the same old standard soca playlist – just pure pan or percussion beating all night long. New York has costume designers on par with Trinidad with the likes of Ramajay and new bands like Stronjeh, challenging the costume norms and growing in the soca fan base. Read the Real Soca Deal Review: On de Road – Labor Day Carnival
Japan carnival, Japan
It is a well-known fact that Japan holds an interest in Caribbean culture. Dancers descend upon Jamaica for the coveted Dancehall scene and soca is no different. Japan is an interesting addition to the number of countries who celebrate Caribbean carnivals, hosting ‘Soca in Japan’. We have seen the likes of Machel and Bunji performing in Japan and the vision of their own carnival is growing. For instance, this year for the first time, they will host a J’ouvert. The organisers have also put together a package which will include a 4-star hotel, entry and transportation to all fetes, tours and translators! The only thing you must pay for is your flights! Artist signings already include Nailah Blackman, so it’s worth a look in for this year. With this festival held in September, it could be great reward for those with carnival tabanca.
Who didn’t hear about the Ubersocacruise? …because it undeniably blew up Instagram and shot a few fetes of the map! The Ubersocacruise has grown through its sheer social media presence, I mean how many of you didn’t attend last year but signed up as soon as registrations opened for this year? It’s a definite ‘must reach‘ destination for 2019. This year sees a choice of two ships on two different dates. With 5 days, 4 nights and a choice of over 50 events to attend, this event needs no selling. Judging by the social media posts of this event last year, you should not miss out this year. Check out the Ubersocacruise website or their Instagram for details.
Leeds Carnival, UK
If you do not fancy paying out the hundreds of pounds on costumes, or not fussed about having a sun-drenched destination, then consider Leeds. Not for the inexpensive costumes, but the fact that Leeds has been hosting carnivals as long as the infamous Notting Hill carnival and has roots planted deep into carnival culture. Leeds is hosted on the same day as the London Notting Hill Carnival. As a result, this carnival is often overlooked and overshadowed by the might of London carnival.
Without a doubt, I would like to pay homage to my UK roots, by supporting our carnivals and find out more about Leeds carnival and its legacies. Check out their Instagram page Leeds West Indian Carnival.
So that’s the Real Soca Deal’s tips on carnival visits this year! Do you have any carnivals that deserve a spotlight?
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Check out my other articles for informative reads on my other Caribbean carnival travels!