Antigua Carnival 2019: Fete Reviews & T-Shirt Mas Experience

Wow, can you guys believe that Carnival is over already?! I probably started counting down to Antigua’s carnival since March or so. Not 100% sure why, but I’ve BEEN ready. Carnival, more specifically playing mas, is usually the highlight of my summer. I only started playing mas a few years ago and I fell in love at once. Another favourite of mine are the pre-carnival events – these include day parties, beach parties, brunch parties, themed parties, anything you can think of and it’s there. To tell you the truth, this year my excitement kind of went down when it came to fetes (parties), therefore I was really selective in the ones I attended. Nonetheless, Antigua Carnival 2019 was a different kind of vibe!

Ready for the fete reviews?

The pre-carnival fetes started as early as May, however I started from June. There was literally a party or lime every weekend but as I said in the beginning I was very selective. With this process, I ended up at three parties for June. Next, we continue with July where the bulk of the feting is as the official Carnival celebrations start during the last week of the month. Here is where I did quite a few stuff some of you may remember from my 2018 review or even 2017 review. Finally, I ended August with my usual fete. Let’s get into it!

JUNE

Sunny Side Up

Sunday June 2nd
5:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
XCD $85 | USD $31 (Early Bird)
Drinks Inclusive w/ complimentary breakfast (5 a.m. – 8 a.m.)

This is the second installment of this fete and my first time attending. It made my list since last year after hearing the excellent reviews. I almost didn’t go because prior to the date it was raining like crazy for four days. I held out and eventually stuck to the plan. My best friend and I got there around 7a.m and headed straight to the breakfast line. There was bacon, beans, ham, bread and of course eggs (omelet style) which was prepared on the spot. After eating, we went to get a drink and find our spot for the day.

Leading up to the fete, it was advertised that there will be special cocktails available. I already had my mind on the passion fruit mojito, however due to circumstances, I couldn’t drink on that day #bummer. Not letting that dampen my vibes, I enjoyed the setup of the party and party favors (I definitely wore my visor many times since the party). The music was good and everyone could be seen enjoying themselves. Funny enough, despite all the rain the sun was blazing on this day. I constantly had to be drinking water. When I got home I realized I actually got sunburnt even though I was in a shaded area for most of the day. Outside of the breakfast, specialty bars and music, there were also other food options available for sale in the afternoon for lunch.

Rating: 4/5
Would I return? Yes

Sunny Side Up | Photo Credit: Mark Blan Photography

Socaval

Friday June 14th
9:00 p.m.
XCD $50 (advanced), XCD $35 (“snack pack crew”, 10 or more persons),
XCD $2000 (private platforms, 8 persons)

This was a last-minute decision that I made only because I really wanted to see Nailah Blackman and Nessa Preppy. Motto also happened to be a bonus because I definitely fell in love with his songs after. This event was more of a concert with various local and regional performers. There weren’t much people at the venue when we got there but once the performances started, the vibes definitely kept going. My only disappointment was the price for drinks given the size of cups. I was a part of a “snack pack crew” so I definitely enjoyed my time for the money spent.

Rating: 3/5
Would I return? Most likely

Experiment Rave

Friday June 28th
9:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
XCD $100 | USD $37 (Early Bird)
Drinks Inclusive

I believe this is my second time attending this event. It is one in a series of parties put on by Project Sync (a non-profit organization) with the aim of giving back to different charities each year. This year they partnered with the Directorate of Gender Affairs to raise awareness about Gender Equality and Equity. They had educational social media campaigns as well as a media tour on various radio and TV stations. Any Project Sync event is definitely one where you will party for a cause.

As the name suggests it’s a RAVE and this was their first year doing it as a liquor inclusive event. They took the risk of enforcing a strict 18+ policy. Even though they may have lost their crowd compared to previous years, they still put on a great show. Their featured DJ for the night was Travis World who did a good job of keeping the crowd interacted. They also had amaretto (my fave!) on their bar menu, so definitely a win in my books.

Limited Rave Kits (shirt, ticket, shades, dust mask, glow stick) were made available for XCD $150 and closer to the event you had the option of purchasing solely a t-shirt.

Rating: 3/5
Would I return? Yes

Experiment RAVE

JULY

Drunch

Saturday July 20th
10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
XCD $75 | USD $28 (Early Bird)
All Inclusive

This is an intimate, invite only brunch party. It’s usually hosted by one of my high school friends but this year she partnered with Project Sync to put on the event. It has been growing over the years, from a potluck to a BBAC to an all-inclusive. I was a bit skeptical at first on how the vibes were going to be given the increase in invited guests. However, it did not disappoint. The setup and added party favors made the party enjoyable, as well as the wide selection of regional and local music.

The breakfast was really good, as well as the goat water (just a lil spicy). I was drinking Prosecco and passion fruit juice throughout the morning then switched to English Harbour 10-year-old rum and cranberry juice later in the day. As mentioned before, the vibes definitely didn’t disappoint and guests had to be reminded of where they were. #ThisisCoolidge #YouCantDrunchWithUs

Rating: 4.5/5
Would I return? Yes, yes, yes

Colours

Saturday July 20th
8:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.
XCD $200 | USD $74
All Inclusive

Every carnival season the Rotary Club of Antigua puts on a themed fete known as Colours. I first attended this fete in 2016 when the theme was African related. This year the theme was The Venetian Masquerade. When I first heard of it all I could think about was a masquerade ball. Since this was the same day as Drunch, I got home around 7 p.m., took a rest and got to the event around 10 p.m. It didn’t look like much people on the inside, but there were definitely a lot of cars parked outside the venue.

I usually look forward to the food at this event given the themes, but this year they really fell short. They had several food stations but after being disappointed three times by my options I didn’t try anything else. The best part (for me) of this fete was Tian Winter’s (local artist) performance. He sang his 2019 songs as well as his greatest hits from previous years. I think for next year I’d give Red Eye: The Breakfast Fete a try (I haven’t been since 2011).

Rating: 2/5
Would I return? No

M[Ocean]

Sunday July 28th
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
XCD $175 | USD $65
All Inclusive

Although the original Raft Up got cancelled, other individuals went ahead and organized a boat cruise on this day. Project Sync’s boat is always sold out, but luckily they added a second boat to the mix. Raft Up is usually an event I enjoy attending given that it’s a boat cruise and I love wearing a swimsuit. However, the weather wasn’t particularly on our good side that day and I had some personal matters (yet, I still attended).

When we got to the venue, my friends and I got placed on different boats, but I managed to switch over before departing. The boat took us out to Cades Bay where they joined together and patrons continued partying by going between the two different boats. After the rain eased up a bit, people began going into the water on floaties. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to partake in this part of the event but it looked liked people still enjoyed themselves despite the weather.

I believe if the weather was better (aka bright and sunny) and Mother Nature wasn’t trying to limit me I would have had fun, but I also felt like I could have missed this event. The music on my boat was meh, the food was meh and my vibe was definitely meh *lol*. I still think Raft Up 2017 was the best, both during Easter and Summer.

Rating: 2.5/5
Would I return? Ahh depends on other factors

M[Ocean] | Photo Credit: Mark Blan Photography

AUGUST

The Original Breakfast Fete

In the beginning I wasn’t sure I wanted to attend this event given that I didn’t enjoy myself too much last year. However, I wasn’t doing anything on Friday or Saturday so I wanted to go out. I agreed to “work” at the event once more as an ‘island girl’. Happily, this year we returned to our usual design style (i.e the Antiguan flag) for the swimsuit.

We got to the venue around 8 a.m. due to the fact that we all had to get our makeup done prior. P.S. the fete starts at 4 a.m. and goes until 3 p.m. The set up was different this year and it had many elements I enjoyed seeing. The venue here is pretty large and only after the fact I realized I never explored one side of the event. There were the usual food options and new stalls such as the one serving chicken and waffles for breakfast (I can’t remember their business name). Something about this year was more enjoyable and I’m happy I decided to go. They just need to find a way to get through all these performances, because it was 5 p.m. when we left and I still didn’t hear Burning Flames. Oh, there was also a ‘VIP’ section with A/C which saved my life!

Rating: 4/5
Would I return? Yes

Okay, so that’s all the events I went to for the season. Typing these reviews it felt like quite a bit, but there were way more I missed. Definitely will be readjusting again next year to incorporate some new fetes and ones I wanted to go this year but couldn’t. You may also see that I didn’t attend any of the official carnival events sadly, but from the snaps I saw Druesday looked like a real hit!

Road Warm Up!

T-Shirt Mas

Saturday 27th July
12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Band: Barefoot Promotions
XCD $200 / $230 | USD $74 / $85
Drink Inclusive, Snacks, Meal, T-shirt/Bodysuit Package

I finally decided to give T-shirt mas another try, but this time with a new band of choice, Barefoot Promotions. The band is fairly new, much smaller and  also came with good reviews. Initially I wanted to get the bodysuit option, but they sold out before I got the chance to register. Therefore, I got the t-shirt and wore a swimsuit of my choice. Okay, so now for the actual review. 

Things that didn’t go right:

  • Late starting time – The band was set to move off at 3:00 p.m. We got there a little after but never left the meeting point until after 4:00 p.m. While waiting, I already peeped there was no music truck hence the hold up.
  • Choice of music – Dancehall was being played right when we started and there was hardly any local music. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with regional music but we’re in Antigua and people want to hear our music too. There were quite a few good songs from this year and I heard maybe two or three. Also, there are good songs from PREVIOUS YEARS so it’s not like we are limited when it comes to music. This applies for local and regional tracks, we don’t need to hear the same selection of songs over and over! (mini rant complete).
  • Food – snacks were given out when we got to a certain point on the road. I felt like this could have been done at the meeting point. It would have minimized people dropping the empty containers on the sides of the street and I think the execution would have been better. The next point we got food was at the very end which was chaotic so I didn’t even bother getting in line. We got back to the meeting point a little before the band and they weren’t finished setting up for dinner, so we once again got served the snacks from earlier and a piece of KFC chicken.
  • Bar – Not sure why the bar was so small  for the amount of people on the road. Every time I went to the bar, it was a struggle to get the bartender’s attention. They had mini bars in between but I’m still not sure of their purpose. I also heard that the drink selections were limited.

What I liked:

  • They had Stoli vodka and not the usual Absolute or Smirnoff vodka. Thus, my drink on the road was vodka and cranberry.
  • The bathrooms were clean. At first I was skeptical that they had ‘porta potties’ as opposed to the air conditioners restrooms, but there was an attendant ensuring that the bathrooms were cleaned after each person.
  • It was quite a few people but it still wasn’t as crowded as other bands. I stayed in front of the first truck for the entire day and had as much space as I’d like without worrying about stormers or anyone rubbing on me.

Despite the above concerns, I still managed to have a good time. If I decide to play T-shirt mas again next year I’d definitely give them another shot.

Rating: 3.5/5
Would I return? Yes

T-Shirt Mas w/ Barefoot Promotions | Photo Credit: Mark Blan Photography

That’s all for now folks! If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments! Also, if you attended any of the fetes I mentioned or even the ones I didn’t but you think I should try, leave a comment and let me know how they were!

Let me know what your T-shirt mas experience was like! 

Stay Tuned for my Antigua Carnival on the road experience! I will be giving a review on my Jouvert experience with Project Sync’s Caution and mas with Insane Carnival.