The excitement is palpable for Carnival with anticipation heightening after each passing day. As I tick off events, sometimes attending two in one day, I simultaneously make plans for a flawless Carnival day execution.

My plans include shopping for carnival boots that perfectly match my costume, confirming an appointment with my favorite professional makeup artist for early Carnival morning, an appointment I booked several months prior, and picking up sparkly skin-toned tights to wear on the road. I’ve also ordered a custom waterproof fanny pack to hold my phone, cash, and car keys while I’m chippin’ down the road.

When the email comes in from my chosen band about costume pick up, things get real. There’s nothing like seeing your costume and trying it on for the first time. I’m early for costume pick up. I want to make sure I get all my pieces and everything fits.

There’s no feeling to describe that first moment when you don your feathers. You can just about hear the music pumping and the libations soaking in as you jump and prance with your closest friends to sweet soca music.

Carnival Day in Jamaica

Xaymaca Carnival

We’re up early on Carnival morning. We’re feathered up and we’ve had our makeup done. Now we’re in full photoshoot mode, taking shots of our costumes before hitting the road. We’re capturing the best of the costumes before the music and the sun take over.

We drive out to the end of our parade’s route, park our rental for easy access to our ride at the end of the day and catch a cab to take us to meet the band at the start of the route. The music’s already pumping and we’re having rum for breakfast. As the band rolls out on the road, cameras are clicking everywhere and the streets are lined with onlookers enjoying the brilliantly flashy display of neon, feathers, and glitter everywhere.

Our group is right behind the music truck and the rhythm of the music reverberates throughout our souls. We can’t help but dance in sync to the baseline, rocking our bodies in the glistening sun. Strangers become friends as everyone wines to the catchy notes floating in the air. 

We’re thankful for the potty truck that follows the band so we can relive ourselves and freshen up without wandering off the route. We’re also now best friends with the guys moving through the crowd with bags of ice water to keep us cool and hydrated on a hot tropical day. 

Soon, it will be time for lunch. Our feet will get a much-needed reprieve from dancing through the streets of Kingston while we fuel up and get our makeup refreshed.

The bands have really pampered us all day long and the lunch stop is no different. There’s a great variety of food options from jerk chicken to Chinese food and everything in between. After close to an hour of rest and recharge for our bodies and our phones, we head back out on the road to enjoy the afternoon session.

The latter part of Carnival day in Jamaica is where the party really gets going. The sideline crowd gets really thick and they’re partying alongside us as we slowly pass them by. By now, the vibe is at a fever pitch as we head into the end of the parade for the final showdown.

As costumed revelers, we have our pick of several carnival parties happening at the end of the night. We stick with the band’s after-party and boogie down to performances from the Caribbean’s biggest stars.

Learn more about Carnival here.