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El Carnaval de Trinidad y Tobago es la fiesta de carnaval más grande del Caribe
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival
El Carnaval de Viareggio es uno de los más grandes de Italia y Europa
Viareggio Carnival, Italy


What is Jamaica Carnival?

Jamaican Carnival is a large annual celebration held in the Caribbean country south of Cuba. Jamaican Carnival has all the characteristic elements of traditional Caribbean carnival, but with some elements that make it unique and particular. Jamaican Carnival is a continuous party that starts in December, but has its peakdays before the Road March, extending until April. The Reggae is the Reggae Festival.

Reggae is one of the distinctive rhythms of Carnival in Jamaica, after all the Caribbean country is thecradle of the musical genre. The Reggae is the genre par excellence in carnivals; however, it is inevitable to count with influences of soca and calypso. The island becomes a greatmusical stage from December with musical events, spanning weekly events until their culmination.



Thismix of genres and rhythms such as soca music, calypso, reggae and dancehall can be heard at every moment throughout each event. In addition, the DJs for Jamaica Carnival do an incredible job mixing these genres of music effortlessly so that all revelers and participants havethe best party of their lives..

Carnival in Jamaica has nothing to envy from the rest of the parties in the Caribbean, as you’ll be dancing, partying and walking for long periods of time. No matter which town or place you decide to celebrate the festivities in, the whole island is in for a big celebration during the carnivals, each one as good as the next.


Jamaica's Carnival is one big celebration filled with music, food and dancing

Jamaica’s Carnival is one big celebration filled with music, food and dancing



When is Jamaica Carnival

Carnival in Jamaica is a particular festival, as it does not take place during the traditional Carnival months. Carnival on the island pmay begin as early as December or January, but it does not reach its peak until well into Lent, culminating in late March or early or even mid-April.

TheJamaica Carnival will be taking place from approximately April 16 to 20.



History of the Carnival of Jamaica

Jamaican Carnival is relatively young, as it began as an initiative by some young people, who wanted to recreate the carnival festivities of the rest of the Caribbean islands. This group of young people decided to represent the Caribbean festivities of the Eastern Caribbean through festivities including some Jamaican elements. Showever, they were not considered fully carnivals; but festivities with carnival elements.

It was not until 1990 when the ccarnival was officially established with the help of Byron Lee, a Jamaican musician. Since then, it has continued to grow exponentially, reaching a high level and international recognition. This first edition of the carnival had only 1,400 revelers who participated in a large masked parade; however, by 1998 the carnival had reached around one million visitors.

Carnival in Jamaica was growing more and more, beginning to integrate Jamaican elements to achieve a positive image that could represent the identity of the islanders. Little by little, the carnival began to organize itself better and better, and the groupings and bands that today form a fundamental part of the carnivals in the country and the rest of the Caribbean began to emerge.

Currently, the carnival in Jamaica encompasses various Mas Band competitions and features the participation of several international artists who come each year to attract hundreds of thousands of participants until flooding the streets and cities of the island.


Where is Jamaica Carnival

Carnival is experienced intensely in every corner of the island; however, the places where they are performed with much more force in the capital of Jamaica, Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.


Jamaica's Carnival is a celebration full of color and music

Jamaica’s Carnival is a celebration full of color and music



How Jamaica Carnival is celebrated

Jamaican Carnival bears some resemblance to the rest of the Caribbean carnivals, however, being the cradle of Reggae, it has other particular elements that make it unique and particular. As is customary in theCaribbean carnival, the party is present from the beginning, creating a great atmosphere of celebration from the first day.

The celebration of theCarnival festivities in Jamaica intensifies as Lent arrives, presenting highly festive elements in the last days of the celebration.

Jamaica Carnival features the following festive elements that can never be missed:



Fetes, popularly known as “fetes” are big events that can be seen regularly in each of theCaribbean islands during Carnival. The Jamaica Carnival parties have grown quite a bit in recent years. These festivities are highly anticipated events and have the participation of the bulk of the population and tourists who come to the island every year.

Each of the festivals can have a particular theme, which makes them very famous and anticipated by the whole world. Some of the most popular parties are I Love Soca Jamaica and Sunrise Breakfast Party. However, as we have mentioned, the parties have different themes, shapes and sizes and the only thing that limits them is your imagination.

The ticket prices for the parties vary, they can range from $50 to $125. The price of the parties can change depending on the type of entertainment, whether national or international artists, DJs, drinks or food included. It is also determinant where the party is held, since celebrations on boats can be somewhat more expensive than on the beach or in an event hall.



The fusion of soca, calypso, reggae and dancehall music is one of the clear hallmarks of carnivals in Jamaica, which can be heard throughout each event. Soca music is generally thedominant musical genre at each of the Caribbean carnivals, but as Jamaica is the birthplace of Reggae, you will also get a good dose of this genre, including the subgenres and mixes that DJs are responsible for producing.

The music is usually accompanied by the fetes, but you’ll also find it at parades, the J’ouvert and street parties. Along with the music come together various dance steps known as Jump-up, which are distinguished by repeatedly jumping from one side to the other taking as a reference the rhythm of the music being played. If you attend some of the parties, just watch how the rest of the people move and imitate them.



Food can never be missing in theJamaican Carnivals. The Jamaican food has been and is one of the frequently repeated elements of Caribbean carnivals, as it is one of the best and most well-known gastronomy in the Caribbean. Dozens of countries and Caribbean festivals feature dishes that are characteristic of Jamaica. For this reason, the food on the island goes to the next level, with a great variety of dishes and drinks of the highest quality.

Much of the food during carnivals can be purchased at restaurants, fast food places or from street vendors throughout Kingston and other cities in the country. You can find a wide range of options, from fish to cocktails and typical drinks.


Bandas Mas

Bandas Mas are companies, organizations or designers that develop outfits that are offered to revelers to participate in carnival parades. Each registered band has a new theme every year and the general public is welcome to buy a costume and join a band. This action of actively including oneself in the bands’ celebration is known as “Playing Mas.” These bands do not just provide costumes, as they alsoinclude in their packages entertainment services, music and even thermoses and other items. Each band is evaluated by the official judges at the judging point.

The bands actively participating in the Jamaica carnival are:

  • Bacchanal Jamaica
  • Xaymaca International
  • Xodus Carnival



The J’ouvert is probably one of the most commonly seen celebrations in Caribbean countries and Caribbean carnival celebrations in the world. This event has a deep identity value, since it began to emerge after the abolition of slavery, making it a cultural element of great value for the afro-descendants of the Caribbean. In addition, the J’ouvert is possibly themost fun celebration of Carnival, as it allows you to get a little crazy and play with the other revelers.

This event usually takes place in the early morning, but has evolved in some regions and has been celebrated at various times, as well as having different themes. The common factor in the J’ouvert is thepaint, mud, talcum powder and water game. Everyone plays at throwing various liquids at each other until they are completely covered. In addition, the whole event takes place in the company ofmusical bands and music trucks.



The Socacise is an entertaining way to get ready for the Road March. It is a word game that mixes exercise in English and soca, a musical genre typical of the Caribbean carnival. The event consists of doing exercises similar to aerobics, but including traditional Soca movements and rhythms. The event is held several times during the holiday period.


Tips for going to Jamaica Carnivals

If you decide to be part of the carnivals in Jamaica, we recommend you to plan your trip in advance, make a travel itinerary and book the accommodation of your choice in advance. Also, be sure to pack comfortable and light clothing to fully enjoy your carnivals.

If your plan is to participate in the parties and concerts, we recommend packing a good pair of sturdy and comfortable shoes, as you will probably be jumping constantly. A good pair of athletic shoes will cushion the bounce during the festivities, which will lessen the pain after the celebration.

If it’s within your means, we recommend purchasing Mas Bands packages. It’s a little pricey, but it’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience. This doesn’t mean that you can’t participate in the parades, just that you won’t have the service offered by the bands.

Events in Jamaica Carnival

Events in Jamaica Carnival are held continuously in various cities and towns across the island. Although Kingston is the epicenter of the greatest volume of events and activities, incredible shows are also held in other areas of Jamaica. In addition, some events occur continuously and in random locations, so we recommend you keep an eye out for future announcements from the organizations.




Beach J’ouvert

The Beach J’ouvert is a popular soca music festival held at James Bond Beach during the carnival season, usually it is the weekend before Easter. The event fulfills several themes of J’ouvert, including paint play and live music, but is held on the beach as the name suggests.

Place: Ocho Rios.

Time: 2 pm – 10 pm


Bacchanal J’ouvert

It is a great concert with artists, DJs and bands. It is the most genuine concept of J’ouvert. The event has a large concentration of people who enjoy a magnificent event and also perform paint and mud war.

Place: Kingston.

Time: 10 pm – 6 am


Road March

The Road March is a grand celebration of carnival, one of the most anticipated throughout the island, as this comprises the great Carnival Parade. It is a with a colorful spectacle in the streets of Kingston, creating a great scenery of colors that move in unison with the trucks and marching bands.

The event is attended by more than 5,000 revelers who look forward to the big event, who will party with a good amount of music, dancing and drinking. It’s a great show that’s incredible to watch, packed with fun, spectacle and merriment.

Venue: Kingston.



The fetes are held in any of themajor cities of Jamaica. These can have different themes and be held at different times. The parties have an entrance fee that varies according to the theme, location and services, but usually they range between 50 and 125 US dollars. In addition, they usually last several hours, at least 10 or 12, so we recommend prepare yourself for a full day of partying and celebration.



The concerts, presentations and Soca shows are mainly held in Kingston. These events generally last about 6 to 8 hours of pure entertainment. Like the fetes, it has an entrance fee, so we recommend you keep a constant eye out for their prices and venues.


The J'ouvert is one of the most important cultural expressions in Jamaican Carnival

The J’ouvert is one of the most important cultural expressions in Jamaican Carnival



Jamaica Carnival Parades

The carnival parade takes place on the day of the Road March. At the event, thousands of people congregate in the streets to dance and enjoy. Both men and women dress in incredible colorful costumes. Men usually wear brightly colored knee-length shorts, one-color T-shirts or with some sparkles and a feathered headdress. Women wear big and ostentatious costumes with thousands of glitters and feathers.

Among the streets you see large trucks and floats that provide an incrediblemusical atmosphere. There are also several personalities, singers and musicians on the trucks enlivening the whole celebration. Everybody dances, has fun and drinks different cocktails and drinks that you can get in the truck bars.


Dozens ofJamaican flags are seen everywhere, as well as flags of sister Caribbean countries and other nations visiting the country to celebrate the holidays. The whole street goes into a complete ecstasy of fun that moves to the rhythm of traditional Caribbean music, soca, calypso and Reggae fusion.


Parade route


All take to the streets to celebrate during Jamaica Carnival

All take to the streets to celebrate during Jamaica Carnival


Each of the bands participating in the parade has its own route with particular entertainment to then unite in a single parade.


Xodus Band

The parade starts at Campion College and then heads to Sovereign Centre on Hope Road. It then heads towards Trafalgar Road on Hope Road, Waterloo, West Kings HSE Road, Constant Spring Road, South Avenue, returning to Waterloo, Trafalgar Road-Hope Road. The parade ends at 6 p.m. at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre.


Xaymaca Band

The Xaymaca Band parade starts on Knutsford Boulevard in New Kingston, then will head to Oxford Street, Spanish Court and Worthington. After that, it takes in Waterloo and Trafalgar, West Kings House and Halfway Tree then back to Trafalgar and Worthington.


Band Bacchanal Jamaica

The Bacchanal Jamaica parade starts at 0 by TGI Fridays and then heads to Lady Musgrave Road and Oxford Road, passing through Eleanor and Halfway Tree.


Jerk chicken is one of Jamaica's signature dishes

Jerk chicken is one of Jamaica’s signature dishes



What to eat at Carnival in Jamaica

Jamaica is known for having the best cuisine in the entire Caribbean. In fact, many Caribbean festivals and carnivals around the world take their dishes to distribute and sell during the events. If you decide to visit Jamaica during carnivals or any other time of the year, you are guaranteed to eat great food.

One of the most famous Carnival dishes in several areas of the world is actually one of Jamaica’s traditional dishes: Jerk chicken. It is a well-spiced and seasoned chicken. It is then grilled until cooked, with a golden, caramelized crust. The chicken is usually eaten with rice and beans or salad.

Another classic Jamaican dish is Curried Goat or goat curry. It is a stew made with goat meat, which is cooked for a few hours with vegetables, herbs, curry paste and other various spices. The result is a thick and delicious well-seasoned stew that is served with white rice or rice and beans.

In addition, the city of Kingston offers a wide variety of restaurants, bars and cafes where you can broaden your gastronomic experience. Some of the most famous places are: Pepperwood Jerk Center, Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records, Gloria’s Rendezvous, South Avenue Grill and JOJO’s Jerk Pit and More.


The Curried Goat is one of Jamaica's classic dishes

The Curried Goat is one of Jamaica’s classic dishes



What to see and do inside Jamaica Carnival

No matter which city you head to within the country, the party is on in every corner during Carnival. Once the carnival festivities begin, there are endless parties in various parts of the country, all with different themes that can last up to 10 hours. You can’t miss the opportunity to visit the food tents that are set up at the most crowded spots.

The music concerts, musical presentations and bands occur from December or January, so they have a lot of events to attend. If you’re in Ocho Rios, you can’t miss the Beach J’ouvert and if you’re in Kingston, going to the J’ouvert and the Road March is a must.



What to see and do outside of Jamaica Carnivals

Some of the main tourist attractions in the city of Kingston are:


Devon House

It is the home of Jamaica’s first millionaire of African descent, who built his fortune in Venezuela. The place functions as a kind of park and museum with some antique items and furniture. It also has an ice cream parlor outside the premises. In spite of being a tourist place, it is also a meeting place for locals.


Emancipation Park

It is a public park opened in 2002. The park has 6 acres of surface where you can find several pieces of art and statues.


Blue Mountains

It is one of the most extensive mountains in the country and has a maximum height of 2,256 meters above sea level. The mountain was a refuge for many black slaves who escaped from the plantations.


Weather in Jamaica Carnival

Jamaica’s weather during Carnival celebrations is somewhat hot, with an average of 35 degrees Celsius. We recommend keeping hydrated and applying sunscreen frequently.


All Jamaica Carnival participants wear colorful costumes for the Grand Parade

All Jamaica Carnival participants wear colorful costumes for the Grand Parade



How to get to Jamaica Carnival


How to get there by plane



The city of Kingston has its own airport known asNorman Manley International Airport, which receives a good number of flights from various parts of the Caribbean and the Americas.


Montego Bay

The city has its own airport called Sir Donald Sangster International Airport, which receives a good number of flights from the Caribbean, the Americas and some countries of Europe.


Ocho Rios

The city has its own airport known as Ian Fleming International Airport. The airport receives mainly domestic flights, so we recommend approaching from Kingston or Montego Bay.


How to get there by cruise

Both the city of Kingston, as well as Ocho Rios and Montego Bay have their own ports, although the main one is in the capital. Cruise ships come mainly from Caribbean countries, the Americas and some European countries.


How to get there by bus

Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Kingston are connected to each other through their bus terminals, so you should have no problem traveling from one point to another during Carnivals.


How to get there by car

From the Airport in Kingston, you can take the A4 road to the city center. The drive is 20 minutes.

From Ocho Rios Airport, you can take the A3 to downtown. The trip takes 15 minutes.

From Montego Bay Airport, you can take a car via The Queen’s Doctor to the city center. The drive is 5 minutes.

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