Trinidad and Tobago Carnival 2020: Dates & How To Plan Your Trip

The carnival is a great time to visit Trinidad and Tobago

The carnival in Trinidad and Tobago is probably one of the most well known carnivals in the Caribbean and if you want to participate and organize a trip on your own during this event, you should start planning well ahead of time.

When is the carnival in Trinidad celebrated

The carnival is always celebrated on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, so you can look up the dates for each year and start planning even a year in advance. Yes, it might seem absurd and too far ahead of time, but since prices during that time tend to skyrocket, this is the only way to reduce costs and keep it budget friendly (as much as it is possible).

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival 2020: 24 & 25 February 2020

2020 Dates

  • Trinidad Carnival Monday - 24 February
  • Trinidad Carnival Tuesday - 25 February

Although the official carnival only lasts for 2 days, the city is in full party mode and there are lots of celebrations during the carnival season.

Program and schedule of events during the carnival in Trinidad and Tobago

Carnival Monday 

The carnival starts on Monday morning, very early at around 2 am, with the event that is known as J'Ouvert (translated from French as "break of day").

This is one of the unique characteristics of the carnival in Trinidad, said to have its origins here on the island, although now it has been adopted by other carnivals around the world.

This is a parade that goes through the streets of Trinidad and its participants wear costumes with satirical meaning, while throwing flour, oil, paint and even mud at the other participants. So if you don't want to get your clothes or yourself dirty, you should avoid this moment.

Nonetheless, J'Ouvert is one of the staples of the carnival in Trinidad and if you've come all the way here in order to attend, we recommend that you don't skip it.

The Carnival Monday continues with the parades of the Mas Bands (Mas comes from masquerade) and in the evening there is usually a competition for the best performer of the carnival that year.

Carnival Tuesday

The real party and big celebration of the carnival is held on Tuesday.

Each Mas band has a theme and all of its members and participants are dressed in full costumes according to the theme.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators gather to see the parade, which is formed of around 50000 people, all wearing magnificent costumes, dancing and having lots of fun.

The party then continues well into the night, with many people taking the next day off in order to rest from the big celebration on Tuesday.

How to take part in the Trinidad carnival parade and Mas Bands

If you want to take part in the carnival parade in Trinidad and Tobago you will have to join one of the Mas Bands. This should be done with many months in advance, as some of the bands have their places occupied really quickly.

Some of the bands provide a full service, which means that besides the costume and your place in their parade, you will also have included the drinks and the food.

Keep in mind that the costumes alone are expensive and if you want to be in the front of the band in the parade it will cost around 1500 $ (up to 2000$), while the less intricate costumes, will start at around 600$ and go up to 1000$.

Even so, places for participants in the Mas Bands sell up fast and you need to go on the webpage of each band, see their members and try to contact one of them in order to get in.

The most popular bands of the 2020 carnival in Trinidad and Tobago are:

  • Tribe: the largest band in the carnival
  • Harts: this band offers all inclusive packages
  • Passion: this a small band compared to the rest, with less than 1000 members
  • Carnival Rogue: one of the younger bands in the carnival
  • Ronnie and Caro: a band with fantastic costume, which is why they often win the prize for best costumes
  • Fantasy: one of a kind costumes

Where to stay during the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival 2020

Planning where to stay and booking your accommodation during the carnival should be your top priority.

Most people book one year in advance or at least 7 -8 months before the carnival.

The city is not that big and there are not enough places to see for all the people that wish to attend.

The carnival in Trinidad is considered high season and the prices are usually 2 or 3 times their normal rate.

You will only be able to book at some hotels through travel agents that specialize in carnival packages, this is why you should book many months ahead of time if you want to do everything yourself and save money.

Airbnb can be a good option, as many people open their homes during the carnival and take in visitors, even if they don't usually do business in tourism.

As an advice, before booking on Airbnb, look up the reviews and contact the host to let them know that you plan to book during the carnival dates. See what they reply and if they confirm that what you see is the rate for the carnival, you can book your stay. This way you can avoid a host canceling on you after they later realize that you've booked the carnival dates at a low rate. Some people get greedy and they would cancel on an early booking just to make more money and if you are left without accommodation it would be a big problem to find another for the same price.

Plan your trip to Trinindad and Tobago during the Carnival in 2020

Although we advise to start first by searching for accommodation, you should also look up flight prices, but don't book a flight until you've found a place to stay.

This is because the accommodation will probably be your highest cost of the trip to Trinidad and you have to make sure you find something suitable.

We advise that you fly to Trinidad and Tobago at least 5 or 7 days before the carnival, before the prices of flights go through the roof. This way you'll have more time to enjoy the carnival atmosphere, see the people get ready and visit the island.

Trinidad carnival on a budget - is it possible?

Yes, but only with a lot of planning and time invested in searching for the best accommodation and flights combination.

Since the carnival is peak season, if you want to the carnival in Trinidad on a budget and without breaking the bank, you should start searching for accommodation a year in advance.

If you find something with free cancellation or at least partially refundable, then it is a big plus. Flights aren't usually released with that much time in advance, but they are usually available at least 8 months in advance, so you can wait until then if you have a list of several places to stay from which you can choose.

During the carnival we only recommend to use taxis and Uber to move around. If you are staying in a private house or a guesthouse, talk to your host and see if they will attend the parades and if you can travel with them. This might prove to be more budget friendly and also safer.

Is the carnival in Trinidad worth it?

YES!
It is one of the best and largest carnivals in the Caribbean.

There's nothing else to compare to: the beauty of the costumes, the music and the people - all these create a magical experience that can only be felt when you are present in the carnival.

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