Mas Appeal: Vixen’s Guide to Carnival
If Rihanna’s taught us anything, it’s that Carnival is one hell of a party. The blogs were recently barraged with photos of the sexy pop star in scantily clad ensembles having the time of her life at Barbados’ Cropover. But too many of us fail to realize that such uninhibited fun is well within reach of the masses. People from all walks of life flock to these elaborate, culturally-driven celebrations with hopes of unleashing stress through music and dance. Women take the act of “playing mas”—reveling the streets in elaborate costume—seriously, as it gives them a chance to free themselves while summoning their inner diva.
With Carnivals taking place year-round in almost every major city, there is something for everyone. Whether budget or endurance is your concern, Vixen’s Guide to Carnival will point you to the perfect party paradise.
-Daria A. Diaz
Photo Credit: urbanislandz.com
With Bajans across the island celebrating the sugar cane harvest, this idyllic travel destination is transformed into a party haven. As the festival begins to gain momentum and notoriety, it grows beyond belief. Perfect for those who must get their beach bum on but don’t mind a good party.
Where to stay: Rent a villa. Options are plentiful and they work out to be less costly than hotels when traveling with a large group. Opt for the south coast if you want to be close to the action, or luxuriate on the west (aka the “platinum coast”).
Where to eat: Oistin’s Fish Fry is well known for its local delicacies and party vibe.
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Nottinghill Carnival (London)
“God save the queen” for London turns all the way up during this Carnival weekend. Although the United Kingdom has a heavy West-Indian presence, onlookers can’t help but be transfixed by the wave of color, sound, and motion. Popping off the third weekend of August, it also proves a great time to tour Europe. You already made it across the pond so why not?
Where to stay: Bayswater Road offers a wide range of hotel accommodations, all of which are walking distance to the parade route. There are also several metro stations along the main road that make the rest of London easily accessible.
Where to eat: Shepherd’s Bush, an area situated close to Nottinghill, is home to the Westfield London Shopping Center, which offers many options for epic eats. The Mall houses a wide selection of upscale restaurants and a variety of small local eateries can be found directly outside.
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Miami Carnival presents the perfect balance of urban fare and Caribbean flare. With a heavy hip hop presence, attendees can dabble in both music scenes. Not to mention, it’s Miami!
Where to stay: Most of the Carnival events are downtown, so it’s the most convenient place to rest your head. But South Beach is always a great option for those who don’t mind heavy foot and car traffic.
Where to eat: There’s just something about Miami’s more elusive eateries that exude sexiness. Fine dining restaurants like Prime 112 and Zuma are well worth the splurge.
Where to play: Check out the well endorsed Generation X for a good time on the road. generationxmiami.net
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Trinidad is to Carnival, what Beyonce is to R&B. No surprise that her hubby chose to shoot his “Big Pimpin” video at this world famous festival. Beware, “It ain’t for everybody.” Trinidadians have successfully mastered the art of ‘fete-ing’—relentless partying that leaves minimal time for sleep. And unlike most Carnivals, Trinidad offers two full days to parade the streets. After 72 hours of non-stop ‘fete-ing’, followed by two days on the road, those strong enough to endure rightfully earn the title “Carnival Aficionado”.
Where to stay: Port of Spain is the heart of the action. The Hyatt Regency is the leading choice, but beware because it’s also the first to sell out.
Where to eat: Dawn’s Roti shop—nestled on a small road in Diego Martin—is far from fancy but boasts the best roti in Trinidad. Period.
Where to play: The exclusive Tribe Carnival offers one of the best mas experiences in Trinidad. carnivaltribe.com
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