Feel The Rhythm & Dance To The Beat At St. Vincent Carnival!

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Saint Vincent is located in the Eastern Caribbean and is surrounded by a group of islands known as The Grenadines. St. Vincent Carnival, also called "Vincy Mas," is a renowned annual celebration in St. Vincent & The Grenadines that honors the destination’s rich culture and heritage.

Island Carnival Caribbean Girl Costume Closeup

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The Saint Vincent Carnival's origins date back to the colonial era. It is a fusion of African, French, and British traditions and represents freedom and independence. The carnival is a vibrant display of colors with exceedingly vivid costumes. Music and dancing are also an integral part of the festivities.

If you're planning a carnival-inspired vacation in Saint Vincent, this article will provide you with all the information you need to know to make the most of your trip!

When is the Saint Vincent Carnival?

During Vincy Mas, held in the summertime, several carnival events occur before the grand carnival parade. These events start from the last Friday in June and continue until mid-way through the second week in July, spanning around 12 days. In 2024, Vincy Mas will be held from Friday, June 28 to Friday, July 12. To accommodate the carnival grand finale, Monday, July 1, and Tuesday, July 2, are holidays on the island.

History of the Saint Vincent Carnival

Many of the carnival traditions we celebrate today, such as the ones in St. Vincent & The Grenadines, have their roots in African customs, with influences from the French and British. The history of colonialism played a significant role in shaping these traditions. The first Vincy Mas was likely celebrated by the European settlers on the island, with private parties and balls held in their homes. Over time, these celebrations grew in size and popularity, evolving into the vibrant carnival we know today. This event is now a beloved celebration of Caribbean culture, attracting locals and visitors who come together to embrace freedom and honor local traditions.

What do people do at the carnival in Saint Vincent?

Islanders view carnival season as an opportunity to let loose and enjoy life in the moment. Music and good times are the key components. As a result, various events such as shows, parties, competitions, and boat rides take place during carnival season. Visitors and locals come together to partake in the feel-good vibes that the carnival brings. If you travel to St. Vincent & The Grenadines during this period, you'll notice the excitement and enthusiasm in the air surrounding this event.

Island Carnival Caribbean Girls Group

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The sound of steel pan drums, upbeat soca music, and catchy calypso tunes are the backdrop for SVG's most popular carnival events. The Parade of the Bands is the main carnival event. This massive street festival includes dancing, music, costumes, and enjoying some good ol' Caribbean fun.

Expert tip: If you're planning to attend Vincy Mas, do you need a passport to visit St. Vincent? If you're a US citizen, you must have a valid passport to travel to Saint Vincent. Ensure that your passport is current and prepared well before your trip.

Festivities and Events

Carnival is a series of events culminating in a cultural explosion and resulting in a party like no other. As part of Saint Vincent Carnival, you can look forward to several exciting events, including:

J'ouvert morning

If you didn't plan on participating in a costumed band for carnival, experiencing the early morning J'ouvert Jam might change your mind. J'ouvert is an event that occurs before the carnival and usually happens in the streets in the early morning hours. The setup for this event is similar to the Parade of the Bands but without the elaborate costumes. J'ouvert is a carnival staple in many islands, including SVG. During your vacation, you can choose to participate in J'ouvert instead of the main Parade of the Bands.

Island Girl Carnival Costume Caribbean

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Several groups, including some of the main carnival bands, participate in the Vincy Mas J'ouvert Jam. Instead of costumes, revelers usually wear t-shirts, shorts, and sneakers as they dance along the J'ouvert route. Another thing that sets J'ouvert apart from the main event is the use of paint, oil, mud, and sometimes molasses, which people smear all over themselves. The participants who do this are known as "Jab Jabs," and they are essentially carnival "devils." Jouvert Jab Jabs engage in lively entertainment and occasionally playfully pursue revelers, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Soca and calypso competitions

During the carnival season in SVG, soca and calypso music can be heard everywhere you go. You might not be familiar with all of the music, but the catchy beats are sure to get you moving. If you're interested in learning more about the island's music, attending events like the annual Soca and Calypso Monarch competitions can be a great way to do so. Local performers compete for the Calypso or Soca Monarch King and Queen titles at these events, and the winner receives prizes and bragging rights.

Miss Saint Vincent Competition

Pageants are a common part of carnival celebrations in the Caribbean. In Saint Vincent, the Miss SVG pageant is a major festival highlight. It features talented and beautiful young women from all over the island. The competition includes segments such as talent, costume, interview, and more, with the contestants vying for the title of Miss Saint Vincent. The winner is awarded multiple prizes and is prominently featured throughout the carnival season and beyond.

Carnival King and Queen Competition

The Carnival King and Queen competitions are centered around costumes. Each band puts forth their best effort to create large, intricate costumes that surpass the typical costumes worn by revelers. The top winners often have their costumes featured in the main carnival parade. The competition winners, also known as the Carnival King and Queen, are announced after the presentations and live performances at the event.

Junior Pan Fest

Steelpan music truly embodies the essence of the Caribbean vibe. This complex music adds an extraordinary touch to carnival celebrations. Attending the Junior Pan Fest is a great way to immerse yourself in some of the finest steel pan melodies if you are in SVG. The Junior Pan Fest features young steel pan players in a competitive setup. Children and teenagers showcase their skills at this event, making it a heartwarming experience.

Mardi Gras Parade of the Bands

The Parade of the Bands is the most highly anticipated event during Vincy Mas. Often referred to as "Mardi Gras" or "Fat Tuesday," this parade marks the end of Saint Vincent Carnival. During the Parade of the Bands, all the bands come out in full splendor, led by music trucks that play the latest soca and calypso beats. You might also hear some international tunes from the various music trucks in the bands. Still, for the most part, soca and calypso are the main genres of music featured.

Island Carnival Caribbean Group Girls Costumes

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During the Parade of the Bands, the carnival bands appear in a specific order. Performers and VIP sections usually lead the bands, and each band has several sections, each with its own unique costumes. While costumes for men and women usually have the same color scheme based on the band and section, there are some exceptions. Overall, the Parade of the Bands is an exciting event that allows revelers to end the carnival celebrations in grand style.

Good to know: Aside from carnival time, the best time to visit St. Vincent is between December and April. These months are during the island's peak travel season, and many activities and tours are usually available.

How can I participate in the Saint Vincent Carnival?

The best way to fully enjoy Saint Vincent Carnival is to join a Mas Band. Many carnival bands are available on the island, each offering unique costumes and carnival packages. Depending on the band you choose, you will have access to exclusive carnival parties and VIP options. It is also possible to simply watch from the sidelines if you prefer.

Carnival Island Caribbean Girls

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Insider tip: The all-inclusive resorts of Saint Vincent aren't just great for fun getaways. They're also perfect for Saint Vincent honeymoons and Saint Vincent weddings!

What should I wear to the St. Vincent Carnival?

For St. Vincent Carnival, you can dress as casually or extravagantly as you'd like. If you are part of a costumed band, your package will include a costume complete with feathers, beads, and a stunning headpiece. If you plan on watching from the streets, wear comfortable clothing and shoes that will allow you to walk and dance along the parade route. Even if you're just a spectator, don't hesitate to stand out with vibrant colors and even some glitter!

Island Carnival Caribbean Girl Costume

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Good to know: There are lots of amazing things Saint Vincent is known for aside from its captivating carnival celebrations. This includes the island's gorgeous beaches and beachfront all-inclusive resorts. Snorkeling in St. Vincent and scuba diving are also quite popular!

St. Vincent Carnival - get set for some good times!

Attending a carnival event in or out of the Caribbean is easy, but finding a destination that offers both lively festivities and a comfortable place to relax can take time and effort. Saint Vincent and Vincy Mas provide a great solution, as this event combines history, culture, and the liveliest festivities in the best way possible.

Island Carnival Caribbean Group

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After enjoying the whirlwind of events, from J'ouvert to the Parade of the Bands, you'll be more than ready to return to your home base. That's where the all-inclusive resorts of Saint Vincent come in handy. We highly recommend a resort located on the beach, such as Sandals Saint Vincent. Saint Vincent vacation packages are as diverse as the island itself, so you're bound to find something to suit your needs for your next vacation!

Expert tip: Want more information about Saint Vincent? Read our posts on things St. Vincent is known for.

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About K. Williams, T. Thompson & W. van der Hoop.

A collaboration between seasoned travel writers, boasting over 30 years of collective experience in Caribbean travel.