The Jamaica Carnival Experience

It is said that French settlers brought carnival to Trinidad and other islands in the 18th century as a pre-Lenten Catholic celebration involving balls and masquerades.As time went on in Trinidad and the Eastern Caribbean slaves adopted elements of their various cultures into these celebrations which became a part of their tradition and evolved with dancing, songs, costumes and particular types of music.


In the present era the tradition continues with rival bands of revelers “competing” against each other.


Jamaica never had this long history of carnival but Jamaicans who admired and enjoyed the tradition in the Eastern Caribbean began celebrating it on the island in the 1990s in an organized way compared to smaller celebrations that had taken place previously going back as far as the 1960’s at the University of the West Indies in Kingston.


In the span of three decades the Jamaica carnival has become a massive celebration drawing tourists and Jamaicans from the diaspora each year. Unlike the Eastern Caribbean where carnival is a pre-Lenten celebration, in Jamaica it takes place right after Easter.


However, as early as February pre-carnival events including parties, concerts, shows and fetes are held in various locations across the island. When the festivities come to Kingston in Carnival week they culminate on parade day with what is known as the road march.



              Portrait of Carnival Diva in a Carnival near Jamaica Pegasus Hotel                                


This involves rival costumed groups of people dancing and reveling in a road parade as trucks accompany them carrying  popular singers and musical groups that perform from the trucks for the masses of participants. The costumes worn by the different groups of revelers are designed and selected way in advance of the carnival.


Get in touch with our guest services to learn about the various packages we offer to visitors coming to experience the magic of this event. We would also advise to do it early as the Jamaica Carnival is drawing larger and larger crowds all the time and has become a major tourism event. Get your information early. Plan early. And book early.


Participants can visit official websites in the months leading up to carnival to view and select costumes and get information on the many upcoming events.


With the COVID pandemic receding the island will soon see the return of the Jamaica Carnival.