Bacchanal Tour Guide – U.S. Virgin Islands 

It’s Carnival season in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI)! (my favorite time of year) Revelers from near and far will be travelling to the island of St. Thomas to commemorate the 67th annual carnival celebration! 

I’ve partnered with Bianca (B), the blogger and creative behind the online editorial, MyIslandFever .

B Mariah

Born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bianca (B) is a blogger, content creator, and traveling carnival masquerader based in Brooklyn, NY. 

In February 2019, she launched myislandfever.com – an online editorial destination where island life meets city life. Centered around travel, everyday life, and cultural experiences, myislandfever.com advocates
for work-life balance.

B and I have  provided you with a guide to help you plan for VI Carnival 2019.

2019 Virgin Islands Carnival 

Carn Line up

https://www.vicarnival.com/

Dates:

Prime Travel Dates: April 30th -May 5th
Carnival Season: April 6th – May 4th
Carnival Prime Week of Events: April 26th – May 4th
Parade Day: Saturday, May 4th

Flights:

Destination: STT – Cyril E. King Airport

This is the least difficult, but tricky task because prices change often. Search for flights frequently and track the rates. Search for flights on Tuesday and use Google Flights or Hopper to track flight rates. Google will email you whenever the price of the ticket changes. For instance, flights right now from JFK -> STT are $350-$490. Yes, this is affordable, but don’t wait too long to book, because once a flight is near full capacity, the rates increase. The lowest price you will find is in the $300s, but flight rates can increase to $800, so if you see a reasonable rate, definitely take advantage of it.

Also, ensure that you are searching for the correct destination point. St. Thomas has one airport, so be sure that your destination is STT – Cyril E. King Airport.

Transportation:

We recommend renting a car.

TAXIs are also an option but are not as available in the middle of the night after fetes. If you want flexibility and independence, renting a car would be your best bet. Please note that in the Virgin Islands, we drive on the left hand side of the road, but don’t worry, your rental car will more than likely have a ‘keep left’ sticker on the dashboard to serve as a reminder.

Finding transportation from the airport is pretty convenient. Once you land and make your way to baggage claim, you can pick up your car from the car rentals on site, or if not, you can take a taxi. The taxis are located right outside baggage claim; you’ll see a group of taxi drivers standing right outside the door. Tell them you need a taxi to wherever you’re staying and ask the price.

Car Rentals in St. Thomas:

    • Amalie Car Rental – Phone: (340) 774-0688
    • Hertz – Phone: (340) 774- 1879
    • Budget Rent A Car – Phone: (340) 776-5774
    • Discount Car Rental – Phone: (340) 776-4858
    • First Rent-A-Car – Phone: (340) 776- 3730
    • Avis Car Rental- Phone: (340) 774-1468
    • My Car Rental VI – Phone: (340) 776-9229
    • Paradise Car Rental – Phone: (340) 643-2692
    • Aqua Blu Car Rental – Phone: (340) 776-2782

Accommodations:

We’ve provided a list of hotels and bed and breakfasts. Airbnb is becoming more popular in the VI. If you prefer to stay in an Airbnb, it would be ideal to secure one in the downtown area near the festivities if you want to be in close proximity to carnival events. Please note that Airbnbs are limited, and the good ones will get booked quickly.

The most convenient hotel is the Windward Passage. It’s a two-minute walk to the village, right outside the parade route, and is located downtown on the waterfront. I suggest booking early because rooms get booked quickly due to the convenience of the location. If you stay at Windward Passage, I don’t think renting a car would be necessary unless you plan on attending local jams/fetes later in the night. For places that are further away, you can always take a taxi during the day.

Also, depending on which accommodation you decide to pursue, information on transportation options and availability will be available at the front desk.

Hotels/bed+breakfast in the area:

    • Windward Passage Hotel – Phone: (340) 774-5200 | Website
    • Bolongo Bay Beach Resort- Phone: (340) 775-1800 | Website
    • Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove- Phone: (340) 693- 4800 | Website
    • Emerald Beach Resort – Phone: 1-800-233-4936 | Website
    • Sapphire Beach Resort – Phone: (340) 775-2600 | Website
    • Bunker Hill Hotel – Phone: (340) 774-8056 | Website
    • Olga’s Fancy- Phone- (340) 643-4247 | Website
    • Pavilions and Pools – Phone: (340) 718-9150 | Website
    • Wyndham Margaritaville – Phone: (340) 775-8300 | Website
    • Sugar Bay Resort and Spa – Phone: (340) 513-4184 | Website
    • The Ritz Carlton Hotel – Phone: (340) 715-9042 | Website
    • Galleon Bed and Breakfast: Phone: (340) 774-6952 | | Website
    • Sunset Gardens Guest House- Phone: (340) 227-4429 | Website
    • Lindbergh Bay Hotel and Villa – Phone: (340) 774-2525 | Website
    • Flamboyan on the Bay Resort and Villa – Phone- (340) 777-6000 | Website
    • Other Accommodations can be reserved through the AirBnb app

Prime Week of Events:

There are tons of events listed on the schedule above as our carnival is a month of festivities. We’ve highlighted major events that take place during the week leading up to parade day.

Below is a list of activities during Carnival’s prime week of events:

    • Carnival Village (April 26-May 4, 2019)
    • Food and Cultural Fair (May 1, 2019)
    • J’ouvert (May 2, 2019)
    • Children’s Parade (May 3, 2019)
    • Adult’s Parade (May 4, 2019)

The Carnival Village:

Village

In the Virgin Islands, the Village is the heart of carnival. It includes performances by local and international artists and bands. It’s a free community event that occurs every night from Friday, April 26th – Saturday, May 4th. You can head to the village to enjoy music, food, and good vibes. The village is located in Fort Christian Parking Lot.

Similar to the Savannah in Trinidad, you can purchase local food and drinks from the village. The hut-like buildings are called booths, and each booth has its own number. You’ll probably hear people saying “I got this drink from Booth #11” or “Booth #5 have some good food.” The numbers are posted/painted on the front of the booths. While the music is free, drinks and food are not, so definitely support local booths/vendors and try our local food and drinks. Be sure to walk with cash in the carnival village. Most of our carnival booths/vendors are not  equipped with electronic card machines, so just keep that in mind. The village is open until about 3:00 am.

The village is also a great opportunity to meet people. It’s like a reunion for us Virgin Islanders because we get to see friends, family, and old classmates – some that we haven’t seen in years.

Connected to the village is Coney Island – also referred to as kiddie carnival. Coney Island has rides, games, and activities along with goodies like candy apples, cotton candy, pizza, and more. If you’re traveling without kids, it’s still worth a visit during a night in the village since it’s really only a few steps away.

Food and ​Cultural Fair:

Carnival Wednesday

The Food and Cultural Fair takes place in Emancipation Garden and the Water Front. It’s a time to celebrate and highlight island food and culture. This is an event that I would strongly recommend if you’re on island. Food fair is your opportunity to get a variety of local dishes, desserts, drinks, souvenirs, etc. Some vendors also sell plants, art, jewelry, clothing, and other island-made goods. It’s a day filled with culture, love, music, and good energy. The food and cultural fair is an opportunity to be immersed in Virgin Island’s culture and community and is an event worth attending.

J’ouvert:

Carnival Thursday

If you’re not familiar with carnival or the term, j’ouvert it’s an early morning event that starts as early at 4:00 am and can go until 10:00 am or even noon. Thousands of locals and visitors dance, drink, and have the best time tramping behind trucks that are blasting music from our favorite local and international bands and, performers as well as DJs. During j’ouvert, we celebrate our music and culture and enjoy ourselves while dancing in water, paint, and more. Wear comfortable sneakers, sunscreen and drink lots of water. And be prepared to get dirty!

There’s the option of joining a j’ouvert troupe or showing up and jumping in where you can. While everyone gets to enjoy j’ouvert, some advantages of joining a j’ouvert troupe include a colorful T-shirt, goodie bag, paint, bottle/cup, and unlimited liquor. If a j’ouvert troupe isn’t your style, you can buy liquor on the sidelines, but be mindful that finding vendors to purchase drinks will force you to leave the route to get it.

In terms of drinking, there’s also the option of pre-gaming and/or walking with your bottle of liquor with you – since it’s legal in the VI (yeah, I know! what a life lol) to walk around with alcohol.

If you do decide to join a j’ouvert troupe, please find a list of troupes below.

J’ouvert Troupes

Insomniacs J’ouvert Troupe – www.insomniacsvi.com

VI Feters – www.vifeters.com

Press Play J’ouvert – www.PressPlayJouvert.com

Kuiet Fete’n – www.kuietfeten.com

We Fetein – www.wefetein.eventbrite.com

Til Marn’n – tmjt.ticketbud.com

VI Vybe – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/vi-vybe-jouvert-troupe-tickets-55849782202?aff=efbneb&fbclid=IwAR1ZAEQMfhUMOdJ-iMMcw5JVYLpJPUtl33yeaoMNDfpCp4dt1QjsyyBmBpA

Jouvert Junction –  www.jouvertjunction.com

SKN Entertainment VI – https://www.facebook.com/sknentertainmentvi/

Lomie BBJ- https://www.facebook.com/aloma.barnabas

Parade Days

Infernos

(Photographer: Fotography by Ingrid | Model: Kristi Krieger | Troupe: Infernos Carnival Troupe)

Friday and Saturday

Parade day is the last lap of carnival and the big finale. St. Thomas has two parade days: Children’s parade and Adult’s parade.

Parade Day is also the last day of the village, and the carnival committee aims to close out with a BANG by saving a big artist for the last night. To celebrate the end of carnival, there are also fireworks that happen around 8pm, so be sure not to miss it! Walk across the street from the village to waterfront around 7:40 pm to secure a nice spot to watch the fireworks. This night is your opportunity to get all the local food you want before carnival ends because everything slows down for a few days after carnival as the community takes well-deserved time to rest after weeks of planning, coordinating, and working nonstop.

Children’s Parade

Carnival Friday

In the Virgin Islands, carnival is for everyone; from babies to senior citizens. It’s a celebration of culture.

The children’s parade is a day of celebrating, appreciating, and showcasing VI youth talent. It is shorter than adult’s parade and has about 40 entries. Children perform steel pan, majorettes, dancing, moko jumbies, and more. It’s an opportunity to support young Virgin Islanders and allow children to showcase their talents.

For more information on children’s parade, visit:

https://www.vinow.com/general_usvi/carnival/childrenparade/

Adult’s Parade

Carnival Saturday

As mentioned above, if you’re interested in playing mas, you would be in the Adult’s Parade. If you decide not to be in a troupe/play mas, you can always watch the parade as a bystander.

You’ll see many people with the tents and chairs on the sidelines watching the parade and supporting their family members and friends who are in the parade. If you don’t want to stick in one area, you can also walk around, watch from different areas, grab food, grab drinks, etc. Furthermore, there are areas on the parade route where the barricades aren’t too high, and you’ll be able to ask to take a picture with some of the ladies in their costumes.

While this is the day that adults play mas, you will spot some children troupes in the parade such as steel pan and majorettes. During the parade, each troupe, big or small, will showcase their costumes and routines for the community, judges, and tv.

Please note that VI carnival is not like other carnivals. You cannot crash a carnival troupe and just jump in and party with them or try to dance with masqueraders. Don’t be that person. This might be acceptable for other carnivals, but it is not recommended that you take that risk. It is important that you understand VI etiquette to avoid getting cursed out at all cost.

More information on adult’s parade, visit:

https://www.vinow.com/general_usvi/carnival/adultparade/

Costumes:

Tribal

(Infernos Carnival Troupe | Model: Dignalis Sanchez | Photographer: SeaBreeze Design Studio)

Prices for Costumes can range from $300-$800. For those who are not familiar with carnival, you must join a carnival troupe (mas band) to play mas and participate in the parade which is on Saturday.

Here’s a comprehensive list of carnival troupes to choose from for St. Thomas Carnival:

    • Hugga Bunch
      Phone: (340) 690-4442
      Email: huggabunchcarnivaltroupe@yahoo.com
      Website | Facebook
    • Real Mas
      Phone: (340) 776-4486
      Email: real_mas09@yahoo.com
      Facebook
    • Eagles Carnival Troupe
      Phone: (340) 690-3077
      Phone: (340) 998-1715
      Application: Contact to Apply
    • Made to Pwhile Carnival Troupe
      Phone: 340-690-3552
      Website | Facebook | IG: @MadeToPwhile

    • Ultimate Legacy VI Carnival Troupe
      Website | Facebook | IG:UltimateLegacyVI
    • Rhythms International Carnival Troupe
      Website | IG: RhythmsIntl
    • Elskoe and Associates
      Facebook
             

Events:

Please note that while some fete tickets might be available for purchase online, many tickets require in-store/in-person purchase, so you can get them when you land in St. Thomas or you can pay at the door.

List of Events during Carnival (Updated Weekly)

  • Saturday, April 27, 2019

         Caribbean Rock Throwback

         Krush Nightclub | $25 before 12 am.

         Entertainment: DJ Avalanche, Jammerz HP, Pumpa & Unit ,
         DJ Malie, Uncle Sasso

  • Sunday, April 28, 2019

         Platinum Promotions 2nd Anniversary Celebration

        Illusions Night Club | $25 before 12am.

        Entertainment: Poizon Band, Shaw HP, Big Band,
        Sisa, DJ Kuntry

  • Monday, April 29, 2019

         Midnight Brunch Fete

         Sabroso Restaurant | 10pm-4am

         Click here to purchase tickets!

  • Friday, May 3, 2019

         Bright Noon Boat Ride

         Kon Tiki Boat | 11:30 am

        Entertainment: DJ Avalanche, DJ 62, Supa Trakz Intl, DJ Pete,
        DJ Supa-tek, DJ Kegg

        For tickets, contact, 340- 643-7575

       ESCAPE – the Ultimate Day Party

       Entertainment: DJ Avalanche, Supa Tek , Malcolm Vex,
       One Drop, General Kuntry

       Paradise Point Tramway | 4pm-10pm

       For tickets, contact 340-690-4591

      St. Thomas Carnival Cooler Fete

     Lionel Roberts Stadium | 5:00 pm-12:00 am

     Entertainment: DJ Mato Cora, Selecta Jeaucar, Deejay Blak,
     Supratrakz, Intl, and  Surprise Guest Artist

     For tickets, contact 340-626-7591

     Other ticket outlets: Urban Threadz, Men’s Corner,
     The Club Fashion (STT)

Post-Carnival

The Sunday after the parade is a day of relaxation and a Beach Day. There are also events that take place the Sunday after parade day. Endless Karnival is an all-inclusive day sail, and more information can be found below.

If you’ll still be in town, and are interested in going to the beach, definitely visit the beautiful beaches listed below.

  • Lindquist Beach
  • Lindbergh Bay
  • Coki Point
  • Magen’s Bay
  • John Brewers Bay

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Endless Karnival USVI All-Inclusive Day Sail

https://www.endlesscarnival.com/

——————————————————–

For information and updates on VI Carnival, visit the VI Carnival page on Facebook or

https://www.vicarnivalschedule.com/stthomas/   and https://www.vinow.com/general_usvi/carnival/


Many thanks to B for inviting me to be part of this collaboration.

B photo

Be sure to subscribe to www.myislandfever.com because whether you’re interested in receiving information and tips on international and domestic travel, learning about carnival experiences  around the world, exploring New York City, West Indian culture, or self-care, myislandfever.com is aiming to inspire scholars and young professionals to live a balanced, authentic life.

Go follow this carnival chaser and creative on Instagram @_islandfever +
@myislandfever

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You can contact B, at : myislandfever@gmail.com 

 

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