On Carnival weekend the events begin on Saturday. There are wholesome events like Kiddie Carnival as well as competitions like the International Soca Monarch, the Calypso Monarch, the Chutney Monarch and King and Queen of Carnival costume competition.
Also on Saturday is Carnival Panarama. The steel pan drum competition for bands throughout the city. Drum bands with up a hundred members work for months well into the night, practicing their one song from Panarama.
Travel Tip: Many first timers get caught up in the excitement of Carnival Saturdays and party a little too hard. Pace yourself. You want to keep your energy up until midnight Tuesday.
On Monday morning, the official party starts with J’ouvert. Here’s when you realize that Carnival is perhaps the most organized chaos. It’s 4am, streets are shut down, tens of thousands of people are covered in mud, oil and paint and they’re all parading throughout the streets with their bands. For the next two days, each band has it’s own route, it own music trucks, it’s own food and it’s own security team to keep interlopers from drinking on the house.
Travel Tip: Do your hotel a favor and watch your step after J’ouvert. The Hyatt Port of Spain learned that lesson the hard way their first Carnival season when mud-covered guests sat right down on the new furniture. Now guests come back to makeshift luxury showers, robes and slippers right in the hotel driveway.