Pon de Road: My First Carnival Experience at Bermuda Carnival

In its 5th year, Bermuda’s Carnival is young, but getting bigger every year. It’s the fastest growing Carnival in the world, and everyone’s beginning to take notice. But don’t worry, Bermuda’s Carnival is a perfect place to begin your Carnival journey as a newbie, as it’s not as intimidating as the ultimate experience in Trinidad & Tobago, but just as fun & inclusive as any other Carnival experience.

It’s easy to see why people become addicted to traveling to different Carnivals around the world, because the vibe and experience is unmatched. I wasn’t a big soca fan before my experience, but I definitely have a few soca jams now.  The music is all about having fun with your friends, how can you not like that?

Going into it, my friends who were Carnival vets warned me that the weekend would be no joke, and that I needed to prepare to renew my membership for Team No Sleep, a license I’d let expire in my late 20s. Fearing I wouldn’t have the pace, I wondered what my weekend would result in. The answer? Pure, unadulterated fun, powered by Rum Swizzles (the traditional Bermudian cocktail) and 5 minute naps wherever I could find them. Here’s a quick run-through of my weekend, and some tips I learned along the way. Think of this as the training guide for what will surely become your new addiction!

You’ll get your feet wet, literally & figuratively, as many of Bermuda’s fetes (or parties for the un-Carnivaled) are centered around the water. Whether its the Raft-Up (a Bermudian tradition), an all-out turn-up in the bay where yachts converge and everyone hits the open water in their floats to enjoy the gorgeous weather or Wetta, a soca party that includes water being sprayed on the crowd from the rooftops as people wine the day away.

PRO-TIP: Stop by the Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club and grab dinner and a cocktail at Marcus’, the restaurant owned by world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. This is also where I stayed, and it’s a gorgeous hotel (with its own widely known art collection) that’s close to all of the fun happening in the city. I’d highly recommend it.

Enjoying GLOW, the first of two white parties during Carnival.

There’s also your more upscale parties, like Glow & Pure, the weekend’s parties for wearing your flyest all-white outfit and catching performances from some of Soca’s biggest artists.

J’ouvert, the all night party that never slows up until the sun the sun rises is the apex of Carnival. Take the hoses from Wetta, and add paint, powder, and everything else in an arts & crafts kit (and an open bar) to make the night (and eventually day) complete.PRO-TIP: Wear clothing that you do not mind throwing away after the party’s done! Save time on getting paint & powder off of your body by putting coconut oil on your body before hitting J’ouvert. Also, don’t forget to cover your hair with a bandana (or in some cases, I saw girls wearing wigs to cover their hair), unless you want to look like a late 90s Sisqo! You’ll thank yourself later.

And as you try to figure out how you’re still awake after partying non-stop for days, you’ll put on your costume to play mas and hit de road.

PRO-TIP: Need a snack after hitting one of the all-night fetes? Don’t leave Bermuda without getting one of their traditional fish sandwiches. Where can you find one of the best? At Seaside Grill on the North Side area of the island.

Shot by Oneika Raymond

The Parade of Bands takes place in the heart of Hamilton. The city’s streets fill with thousands of partiers and onlookers, dancing along to the music blasting from each band’s massive float. Here’s where you’ll see some of the most incredible Carnival costumes and what feels like the entire island having a great time!

Bermuda Carnival 2019 - Parade Day

I had the pleasure of traveling with two of the travel industry’s dopest women, Oneika Raymond (left) and Dayvee Sutton (right).

PRO-TIP: If you don’t think you’ll make the whole day marching on the parade route, the best time to join is for the Last Lap. Everyone is hype and you’ll see some surprise performances from the bands!

If you’re thinking about heading down to Bermuda for Carnival, start planning now! The week long party takes place in June, during Bermuda Heroes Weekend. You’ll want to keep up with all of the happenings, as bands generally announce their costumes in January (with fashion shows to boot), and spots sell out quickly. This is one event you definitely don’t want to wait until the last minute for.

If Carnival isn’t your thing, another great time to visit Bermuda is at the beginning of August, during Cup Match. Many of the same parties that happen during Carnival (ie, Raft-Up) also happen during this weekend and it’s one of the most popular weekends of the year on the island.

Check out the video I put together that adds action to what I’ve been telling you about Bermuda’s Carnival experience.

Special thanks to the Bermuda Tourism Authority for sponsoring this experience. This is a sponsored post.