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  • Writer's pictureGigi

Jamaica Carnival Kingston 2024

Updated: Jul 10

Important dates:

Road March: April 7th 2024

Jouvert: April 6th 2024

Learn the History!

Jamaica's carnival has deep roots in the island's history, evolving from a blend of African, European, and Caribbean influences. The celebration, often commencing in January and peaking in February or March, is a vibrant culmination of traditions that dates back to the 20th century. Historically, Jamaica's carnival has its origins in the emancipation from slavery, with former slaves using the occasion to mock their former enslavers. The celebration became a powerful form of cultural expression, where the marginalised found a voice through music, dance, and vibrant costumes. This history infuses the carnival with a unique significance, as it symbolises not only the joy of freedom but also the resilience and creativity of a people overcoming a painful past.

Today, the carnival continues to showcase the island's diversity. The lively road march, winding through Kingston, features male and female masqueraders in elaborate costumes adorned with feathers, sequins, and vibrant colors, crafted by local artisans. The beats of soca, dancehall, and reggae pulses through the streets, creating an infectious energy that encourages spontaneous dancing and celebrates the spirit of emancipation

How to participate as a foreigner/traveler?

Jamaica's carnival, with its roots in emancipation from slavery, has historical significance tied to the experiences of the Afro-Caribbean community. Engaging in the celebration without acknowledging this history or understanding its importance is insensitive and dismissive.

Carnival is open for everyone and is general a very inclusive event not only to foreigners but even to the LGBTQ community. Jamaica can still be a very unsafe place to openly show your sexuality if you are not heterosexual, but carnival and soca culture in general is a tups more welcoming.

I see many white foreigners coming to Jamaica and participating in the road march with costumes etc but Jamaica also have a small white population that participates in Carnival.

Are you unsure if you want to go full costume or not? buy a teeshirt package and come in that or festive clothes but not a full on costume. You can also spectate from the road side and enjoy the beautiful show.

If you want to "jump" (buy a costume and walk the road march) this is what you need to know:

Choose a band

 A "band" refers to a group of participants who come together to collectively take part in the festivities, often characterized by wearing coordinated costumes, dancing to specific music, and moving as a cohesive unit during the carnival parade or procession.

The band sells costumes for both male and female and also teeshirt packages that are much cheaper than the elaborate feather costumes. Both packages include acces to the road march, walking with the big trucks with music, a free bar and even a truck with toilets.

Jamaica has 4 bands doing the road march 2024; The Jamaican bands Yaadmas and Xodus/Bachannal and GenXs who is a American and Jamaican band.

The bands also offer parties the whole week before the road march.

The most special party that is Jouvert, the night before the carnival where paint and water is involved!


"Jouvert" (pronounced joo-vay) is a pre-dawn celebration that marks the opening of carnival in many Caribbean cultures, particularly in Trinidad and Tobago. The term "Jouvert" is derived from the French patois words "jour ouvert," which mean "daybreak" or "morning."

Participants, known as "Jouvert revellers" or "Jab Jabs," gather in the streets, often covered in paint, mud, oil, or even chocolate. The use of these substances symbolizes a breaking away from societal norms and inhibitions, allowing for a free and expressive celebration.

These parties are amazing and very entertaining.

What to bring: With the tickets for the party you will often get a swimsuit or a teeshirt, you can wear that alone or style it with other clothes to the party. Just know! that it will get full of paint, oil, water etc that sometimes will be hard to get out! Same goes for the shoes, wear the trainers you don´t mind getting dirty.

Hot tip: "Bathe" in Baby Oil or Baby gel! Put it everywhere! Also inside your ears and your nail bed! it will keep the paint from sticking on you for days! also wear a shower cap or a bandana.. The paint will stay in your hair and scalp.

Good to have: A waterproof case for the phone. A waterproof small bag, Two rags, one to use when ever and one for emergencies if you get your face full of paint. Trust me, i have been there. If you arrived by car; Bring water bottles to wash off after the party. Have slippers and some old clothes to change to that still might get a little paint residue on them and have towels or plastic bags to sit on.

You don't need to bring anything else, the bands usually offer drinks, water and breakfast inclusive in the ticket price.

Know your limits!

It's not cute to be drunk. Drink responsible and drink enough water, even tho that means that you have to pee more. Do it!

The Road march

The Road March 2024 will take place April 7th 2024. Make sure to pick up your costumes and teeshirt packages the days before at the announced location. Your chosen band will give you the information when you register! You can also look up "Visit Jamaica" the official tourism board to get more information about time and place. The march usually takes place through New Kingston and Halfway tree. and last year there where two seperate events.

Hot tips:

Wear comfortable shoes! Drink enough water! The sun is hot and the alcohol strong!

Eat a good breakfast! You need the energy and the carbs to soak up the alcohol.

Bring napkins if the bathrooms don't have. Even better; bring a bottle of water to the stall and wash your self with water after. Nothing worse than walking in the hot sun and dancing on people without being clean.

Are you female and are wearing one of those small bikinis? Use tape to secure the garments not just over your nipples, but over your kitty too.

Good to have: A fanny pack! Make sure you find one that matches your costume.

Sunscreen, like you bathed in baby oil the night before at Jouvert, bathe in sunscreen on Road March day and bring more, cause after round two you can freshen up, get lunch with your band and put on a new layer of sunscreen!

Phone with camera, portable phone charger. Body tape to secure your costume on your private parts. Extra tape, pins, hair pins tape and glue if your costume breaks.

Costume release

Make sure you register in time, the costumes take time to make and the designers can only make a certain amount of each costume. Most Bands release their costumes in December the year before! I was invited to GenXs costume launch in hope gardens, their overall theme is dragons and each costume was more impressive than the other.

Look out the comming days on my IG for GenX's Launch.

How to get ready for carnival?

Get in shape! you want to dance every minute of the march and walk the whole two rounds without falling apart! Check out training programmes and dance boot camps like Chris Choreo here:

Learn to chip, whine and bubble. Nothing better than being prepared physically, mentally and spiritually to dance and have fun the whole day.

Do you have to dance with someone?

No, are you not interested in dancing with a stranger just politely ask them to stop.

Carnival is to have fun and dance and for many people a great place to let loose and dance with a stranger, that does not mean that you have to. Just know that if you are dancing beautifully and someone wants to join he/she will do so, and not always with asking first. If someone dances on you that you don´t like, just stop dancing and ask them to stop or move away. But keep the good vibes. It's Carnival.

Know your limits!

It's not cute to be drunk. Drink responsible and drink enough water, even tho that means that you have to pee more. Do it!


Pre Carnival preperations:

GenXs Band

Yardmas Band

Xodus Band

Baccanal Jamaica Band

More info from Jamaica Tourism Board

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