When is the St Lucia Carnival?
What is technically considered the ‘real’ carnival is the two days when the Parade of the Bands, Road March competition and Panorama Steelpan Competition take place. This year what is considered the ‘real’ carnival will take place on the 14th – 21st July, 2021. So, if you want to be in St. Lucia for the ‘main carnival events’ then plan your holiday around those days.
But in the month and weeks leading up to carnival there are loads of carnival events, fetes and non-stop partying! The biggest festivities take place in the days prior to the parades.
What is carnival in St Lucia?
St Lucia Carnival previously known as the Lucian Carnival is a lively and vibrant celebration of St Lucia’s rich culture and heritage! This celebration evolved from the islands unique mix of Catholic, Caribbean and African heritage. St Lucia Carnival is when you can experience local culture and its loudest, brightest, rawest and purest!
It is the largest and most important cultural event in Saint Lucia with over 5000 costumed revellers taking part. As well as 30,000 spectators and a television audience of over 60,000. St Lucia transforms into a massive party.
Saint Lucia Carnival is something to behold. The island is filled with the sound of drums, calypso, soca, reggae, banjos, feathers, glitter, beads, sequins and happy people dancing under the sun! Whether you join in the procession or just spectate from the sidelines you are guaranteed to have an amazing time!
The celebration was originally held before the start of Lent but was moved to summer so it wouldn’t compete with Trinidad & Tobago Carnival.
Where is the St Lucia Carnival?
Saint Lucia is a Caribbean Island located in the Eastern Caribbean Sea, in the West Indies. It is a sovereign island country on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean.
St Lucia Carnival generally takes place on the island’s capital Castries, and in its surroundings area like Gros Islet. Exact locations vary according to where different themed parties take place but Reduit Beach, Rodney Bay Marina and Pigeon Island, host a lot of the action.
How do they celebrate St Lucia Carnival?
Carnival in St Lucia is an vibrant event that can be described as one monumental party! During and in the lead up to carnival there are parties happening everywhere. Events range from fish fries to jump ups, to rich cultural celebrations and vibrant music festivals. You get to learn all about local culture and heritage, all while having the absolute time of your life!
Carnival is celebrated with lively colourful parades, elaborate costumes, wild fetes, pageants, conga lines, non-stop dancing, mouth-watering street food, awesome entertainment, nightly costumes and free-flowing rum!
What is the history of St. Lucia Carnival?
Like numerous other Caribbean Islands, St Lucia Carnival was the result of the Afro-European influence in the region. The celebrations were traditionally held before Lent, which was meant to be a period of feasting and celebrating before the onset of Catholic Lent, a time of sacrifice.
In 1999 it was moved to summer to avoid competing with much larger Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. St Lucia’s carnival continues to get more popular with every passing year, attracting visitors from around the world!
St Lucia Parade of the Bands
What is playing mas? If you are not familiar with celebrating Caribbean Carnival, you can either be a spectator and watch the parades, or you can join in! When you choose to join in it is called playing mas! The Bands compete against each other to win the title off best Mas Band.
5000 costumed revellers will compete in the St Lucia Parades. It is a colorful, vibrant and energetic spectacle. The masquerades are dressed in the most colorful costumes that are adorned with feathers, jewels, headdresses and wings. The soca pumps loud and everyone dances the day away.
If you want to play mas you have to join a masquerade band. If you want to have the ultimate Caribbean Carnival experience we suggest that you play mas! Carnival Monday is the day that you wear your carnival costume and on Carnival Tuesday you can wear whatever you like when marching!
The 2021 St Lucia Carnival Bands!
How to choose a Mad Band for St Lucia Carnival? Well that’s a difficult decision because you have so many good options. Maybe you will select your band based on their costumes as they all pick a theme and design their costumes around that theme. So you may just fall in love with some of the costumes.
Obviously, money can be a big factor when choosing which mas band to choose. So check them out and do some research to find out which mas band you think will enhance your carnival experience!
- Just 4 Fun Carnival Band will have selected “Phobeia” as their theme. Check them out https://just4funcarnival.com/
- Xuvo Carnival have selected “her Majesty” as their theme. Check them out here http://xuvocarnival.com/
- Legends Carnival have selected “Veni Vidi Vici” as their theme. Check them out here http://legends-carnival.com/
- Asari Tribe have selected “Les Perdus” as their theme. Check them out here https://www.asaricarnival.com/costumes
- Taboo Carnival have selected “Wu Zing” as their theme.
- Fuzion Mas have selected “butterfly effect” as their theme. Check them out here http://www.fuzionmas.com/
- Red Unlimited have selected “Persia” as their theme. Check them out here http://redunlimited.net/
- Island Tribe selected “big bang” as their theme. Check them out here http://www.islandtribeslu.com/
St Lucia Pre-Opening Fest
In the lead up to the parades there are loads of carnival celebrations and festivities occurring. There are lots of evening concerts to enjoy but one of the most highly anticipated carnival pre-parties is the a huge street party called “Color Me Red”. It is a public street party and everyone must wear red!
St Lucia Carnival J’ouvert
The carnival action in St Lucia officially begins with J’ouvert which is the opening street party, that begins before dawn! Yes it actually does, in fact the word J’ouvert stems from the French word for day break. It is a spontaneous celebration where carnival-goers get covered head to toe in mud, body paint, powder or foam. There is loads of fun, dancing and music in true St Lucian style!
Music is a the heart and soul of St Lucia Carnival! During Carnival Soca, Calypso and Steelpan music rein supreme. Local Artists will create awesome musical tracks just for carnival. St Luica Carnival music is varied and apart from soca you will hear reggae, zouk, bouon, Afrobeats and soukous.
St Lucian Fetes
There are also lots of St Lucia Carnival Parties that occur during the and in the lead up to the carnival, which are known as fetes. Fetes start about a month before the Grand Parade. The Fetes features many Caribbean music artists and steelpan and soca bands who put on live performances.
St Lucia Carnival Tips!
- Learn to wine! “Wining“is a local term that refers to a style of dance. This dance move is a rotational swaying of the hips. Have a look on YouTube if you are unfamiliar or want to learn how, because people will be wining all over carnival.
- Leave your valuables at home and just bring cash, but bring enough cash to pay for food and drinks throughout the day as you won’t be able to use cards anywhere.
- Stay Hydrated! Because it is hot and you will be dancing the day away under the Caribbean sun which can create a bad scenario when combined with alcohol consumption.
- Wear light clothing because the weather will often have heavy but short-lived downpours and you want to dry off quickly!
- Where good comfortable shoes! Because you will be on your feet all day!
- Arrive early to find a good spot along the parade route to watch the Parade of the Bands, as there will be big crowds.
- For the Carnival Pageant head to the area in front of the Castries craft market
How to get to St Lucia
There are two airports in Saint Lucia. Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) is located in Vieux Fort, which is about 40 miles south of Castries, the capital city of St Lucia. George F.L. Charles Airport is a smaller inter-island airport that is located just outside Castries. To get a quote for a flight click here.
How to get around St Lucia
We recommend taking a taxi because driving on St. Lucia’s unmarked, bad roads is quite challenging! You can rent a car but it is for the most adventurous. Get a quote for a rental car here. To rent a bike or a scooter get a quote here.
Taxis drivers receive special training that allows them to also serve as guides so you can enjoy your taxi ride! Taxis are unmetered but the government has fixed tariffs for all standard trips, so ask how much before you ride and what currency they accept US or Eastern Caribbean Dollars.
Where to stay in St. Lucia
St Lucia is known for having some of the best hotel and resorts in the Caribbean. So of course that means that a lot of the accommodation is quite expensive, but you do have accommodation catering for all budgets and levels of comfort!
St Lucia Carnival mainly takes place near the Rodney Bay/Gros Islet area of the island. Around 80% of the events taking place at Pigeon Pint.
Check out some of the best offers on accommodation for your visit to St Lucia, or anywhere in the world, here.
What to do and see in St Lucia
St Lucia is a little piece of paradise! It is blessed with incredible nature, geographic and cultural riches! The island has stunning dramatic scenery most recognised by the island’s twin Pitons – the seaside mountains. It also has a simmering volcano and lush rainforest. St Lucia is home to the most down to earth place, friendly and hospitable locals.
You must visit Rodney Bay which is a beautiful bay in the North. In the South visit Soufriere which a gorgeous region of old plantations, hidden beaches, and the geographic wonder of the photogenic Pitons.
For more information about tours, things to do, sightseeing tours, day trips and more click here.
Or if you are lucky enough to have a longer vacation then check out Tour Radar which has lots of different itineraries. St Lucia is the unspoilt gem of the Caribbean! Tropical rainforest, white sandy beaches, beutiful volcanic rock, friendly locals and so much more, it’s easy to see why it is one of the world’s top destinations! Check out some tours here.
Before you go!
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