If you’re looking for a Carnival that has fun, sun, creativity and culture all in a stunning setting then Saint Lucia is for you.
The Saint Lucia Carnival runs from 1st-18th July. If you want to be in Saint Lucia for the biggest festivities from 11th-18th July, then plan your holiday around these dates. There are national events and fetes (ticketed parties) organized in the countdown to the Parade days on 17th and 18th July which mark the culmination of the Carnival.
You’ll hear music everywhere from steel pans, drums, Calypso and Soca with people taking to the streets to dance. There are national competitions to select a Groovy, Power and Calypso Monarch champion as well as Steel Pan.
Here is our guide to the Saint Lucia Carnival along with tips on the best parties and things to do, see, eat and drink when you want to ease up on the revelry.
The main events take place in the north, in Castries and Gros Islet. Many of the districts around Saint Lucia also have their own community carnivals in the weeks leading up to the National Parade which offer a more affordable and intimate option for revelers.
The most colorful elements of Saint Lucia Carnival are the costumes. If you want to take part in the National Parade, there are two days when locals and visitors can join a band (17th and 18th July). When you join in, this is also called ‘playing mas’ and you can choose the section that you jump with. Each band has a theme which comes to life in the costumes with different colors, patterns, gems and feathers. The King and Queen of the mas bands can be easily spotted with their 30 ft high costumes as they lead the bands in the streets.
There are 7 main bands:
Just 4 Fun
Legends Carnival Band
Tribe of Twel
Bands like Legends, Fuzion and Just 4 Fun have a mix of locals and visitors, regulars and first-timers so there is a place for everyone. Legends is a premium band and has been going for seven years. Their 2023 theme is ‘The Essence of Time’ celebrating the heritage of Saint Lucia and life today. Xuvo is celebrating Alice in Wonderland with ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ as their theme and Fuzion’s look and feel for 2023 honors the music of Carnival with Fuzion FM. Tribe of Twel usually has more modestly covered costumes if preferrable.
It’s a good idea to register early so that your costume can be measured and made. You’ll also get an ID wrist band to wear so that you’re officially part of the event. The cost of joining a band includes your costume, unlimited food and drinks and security during the parade, mobile comfort stations and some fetes. Depending on the band and the section of your costume, you may get tickets to other events. Registration is via the band website.
You can also have a great time as part of the crowds lining the streets to watch the parades. Look out for all the different country flags to see how far some visitors have come. No tickets needed.
Fetes are essentially parties that are planned across the Carnival period. They take place in the days or evenings. The fetes vary in prices and offerings but all feature brilliant Soca artists including some stars from across the region.
Some highlights include:
You could also go to a J’ouvert (day-break) party where everyone gets covered with colourful paint, chocolate and water so it gets messy! They take place during the early hours of the morning into sunrise.
For more information on how to book tickets visit https://carnivalsaintlucia.com/
What to bring:
If you’re planning to enjoy the revelry from the side bring cash, sunscreen, a hat, umbrella and comfortable shoes. Consider bringing a lounge chair and find a shaded spot next to a food stall along the route to enjoy the day’s festivities. You don’t need to bring your own food and drink as there are approved vendors, but you can bring a cooler of drinks if you’d prefer. Leave your valuables at home or at your accommodation.
Around Saint Lucia:
At only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, fringed with soft sandy beaches with a rainforest at the centre, it’s easy to get around. There are plenty of brilliant things to see and do in Saint Lucia. Here’s just a few suggestions:
Where to Eat:
Saint Lucian restaurants offer an eclectic mix of African, American, European, Indian, and Caribbean cuisine. From hearty stews to fresh seafood dishes, healthy options and farm-to-table experiences, the food is second to none. Look out for variations of the national dish of green figs and salt fish.
Some of our top recommendations are: