NIGEL CAMPBELL: Carnival fetes come in three categories: the high value all-inclusive; the young people cooler fete and its event cousin the breakfast party; and the general mass-market public fete.
LIME at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad is a pick for the all-inclusive set. Soaka in Chaguaramas is becoming the de facto standout breakfast cooler fete. Army Fete in the Queen’s Park Savannah, the safest party for the Carnival, effectively has all the best soca singers and serves all people as value for money. And did I say it was safe — the Army is literally the security!
As a precursor to the Carnival, the bands are now launching the next year’s presentations as early as July. Among the best opportunities is the Festival of the Bands from TRIBE Carnival. Island Crashers Festival in Pigeon Point, Tobago is a secret no more, and a must do fete among a younger cohort.
LAURA DOWRICH-PHILLIPS: It depends on a person’s taste, age and budget. If you are looking for a swanky all-inclusive experience, any of the school fetes such as Fete with the Saints, Fatima All Inclusive, and Presentation College’s PREStige are definite must-dos — plus, the money raised goes toward the improvement of the schools so you’d be contributing to a charitable cause.
Hyatt Lime, Beach House, Soca Brainwash, Kairi People’s Different, and Fall Out are quality all-inclusives during Carnival week.
Early morning breakfast fetes such as AM Bush, Soaka, Black to Blue, Jam Nation, Breakfast Is, and Vale Vibe are high on my list of must-dos. The latter two are all-inclusives held on Carnival Sunday.
For younger adults, Bacchanal Road, a Caesar’s Army fete where you are required to wear a costume and parade around a route, is a definite must. A great Ash Wednesday cool down is Candy Coated’s Blush in Tobago.
Tobago is where the top parties take place during the year namely Island Crashers, three days of parties targeted to the 16 to 24 crowd and Great Fete weekend which sees performances by top local, regional, and international acts. Other party opportunities are: Caesar’s Army In de Paint dance on Independence Day, Cocoa Devil’s J’ouvert in July, Josie’s Jamishness in May, and Point Fortin Borough Day fetes.
PENELOPE SPENCER: The season starts off with Soka in Moka — a must for all real party people…it’s an all-inclusive fete hosted by Trinity College, and all the proceeds go to fund the school.
Veni Mangé is a mini inclusive fete, which is hosted by the Woodbrook restaurant of the same name. Nice crowd, great venue.
Any fete hosted by KAIRI People is excellent — highly recommended, safe, creative entertainment, best soca artistes, proper food and drinks… You get your money’s worth with their fetes. They also have fetes during the year.
- School all-inclusives: St Mary’s, Prestige (Presentation College South), Fatima. Other all-inclusives — Different, Soca Brainwash.
- Wet/paint fetes: Soaka, Soaka Street Party, AM Bush.
- Cooler fetes: Bring It, Army, Bayview.
- Shows/concerts: Machel Monday, Tuesday on the Rocks.
- Carnival Sunday breakfast parties: Vale, Breakfast Is. One-off events during the year: Cocoa in July, Josie’s Jamishness, Beach House Mayfair.
- Regular events: A lot of parties take place on party boats like the Harbour Master, these are usually hosted by private promoters and popular DJs. Throwback & Wine (soca, dancehall, hiphop).
About our Roundtable
Nigel is a music businessman who writes for newspapers and magazines, including Caribbean Beat (caribbean-beat.com), doing music reviews and covering the music business. He is a producer and promoter of Jazz Artists on the Greens (jaotg.com), publishes Jazz in the Islands magazine (jazz.tt), and co-hosts the Music Matters podcast (iradiott.wordpress.com), which looks at the music industry in the Caribbean.
Laura has been a journalist for over 20 years, and is currently the Regional Lifestyle Editor for Loop News, a regional digital news platform. She co-hosts the Music Matters podcast (iradiott.wordpress.com), which looks at the music industry in the Caribbean. She is passionate about positioning the Caribbean on the global stage and educating the world about the region she calls home.
Pennie has worked in the entertainment industry for over 30 years as an actor, writer, director, teacher, producer, television host, and casting agent. She co-hosts OMG Live on Facebook and The Sisterhood on TV6; and is the artistic director of Necessary Arts School/Productions. She recently completed her first children’s book with Lylah Persad, Tales from the forest.
Franka Philip and Ardene Sirjoo
Franka and Ardene both enjoy developing and executing interesting creative projects. Their backgrounds in media and general curiosity led them to co-found Trini Good Media, including the podcast Talk ‘Bout Us and OpedTT, which curates opinion writing. Franka is an experienced journalist who’s worked at the BBC World Service and Guardian Media, and writes the Cookup column for Caribbean Beat. Ardene co-hosts the popular radio programme The Mandate on i95.5FM, is a frequent event host and moderator, and works with the Bocas Literary Festival as the media and marketing coordinator. trinigoodmedia.com