St.Lucia Carnival 2012 Guide: Getting To, Accommodations, Etc

St.Lucia Carnival is the best value for money!

JULY 16th & 17th 2012

Before I start telling you why, I must tell you the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD) currency conversion rates ... LOL! 
1USD = 2.70ECD 
1EUR = 3.57ECD
1GPB =  4.29ECD 

Travelling to St.Lucia (the Caribbean in general) can be costly in terms of airline tickets and accommodations. So keep an eye on various airlines. As for accommodations, I have given you my recommendations & a range of prices and accommodations from hotels, guesthouses to apartments.  ... And St.Lucian carnival info from fetes to what to expect on Carnival Monday and Tuesday on road! 


Unlike Trinidad and other carnivals, we only have 2 major fetes which are the Wednesday and Friday before Carnival Monday. The Wednesday fete is Color Me Red. The Friday fete is Outrageous Sexy in Black. ... And as the names suggest, patrons wear red and black respectively. Do expect to see, local and Trinidad soca artistes on stage. This truly is the introduction for the madness which is Lucian Carnival. These fetes are reasonably priced and won't break your pocket.

So if interested in visiting the island, St.Lucia for carnival, a week trip is perfect from the Wednesday before carnival to the Wednesday after Carnival Tuesday.  'Though a longer stay would be nice!

The reason I stress that St.Lucia Carnival is the best value for money compared with numerous other carnivals, if registered with Just 4 Funnot only do you get a carnival costume, all inclusive drinks and light food snacks both Carnival Monday and Tuesday on the road but the cost of your costume includes a j'ouvert package (j'ouvert pre-party and t-shirt) and all band party fetes are free. If you jump in their VIP section, you get the drinks of your choice supposedly and you get to party on a catamaran in the Castries Harbour after the jump up! Here are RED Unlimited's 2012 costume prices and what each of their carnival packages include. ... In addition, you get to enjoy our beautiful island and can do the touristy activities!

Generally, when carnival bands launch and registration begins, most bands offer discounts, if revellers fully pay for their costumes by a certain mentioned date. Band prices range between $300XCD to under $1000XCD. I have never spent more than $500ECD on a costume. ... And I don't see the reason to do any VIP sections. I will never say never, particularly if I like a costume.

This year, quite a few bands have launched before the usual St.Lucia Jazz (Mother's Day weekend) which is mid-May. Most bands start getting active after the Official Launch of St.Lucia Carnival which this year is June 3rd.  

If worried about registering for a band, "have no fear!"  I will keep you posted with band information.

In the past, I have assisted people with getting into sections of their choice. Again, just send me a quick email, I'll be happy to help. I will also keep you updated about the LIVE carnival event streams through out the carnival season.   

St.Lucia Carnival 2012 Calendar of Events. Tickets for various fetes and carnival events are easy to purchase and can be purchased once you arrive the island, just visit Sunshine Bookshop or just wait to purchase at the door / gate of the venue. Some people usually do the Friday Panaroma (steel pan) event and then head to the Outrageous Sexy In black fete after. These 2 events are no more than a 5 minute drive apart. 2012 Fete flyers.

How To Get to St.Lucia?
There are 2 airports; George Charles Airport (Vigie / SLU) in the capital, Castries and Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) in Vieux Fort, in the south of the island. It's about an hour drive, from the south to the north of the island. 

LIAT
Air Caraibes
Jet Blue
American Airlines (and American Eagle)
Delta
US Airways
Condor
Air Canada
West Jet
British Airways
Virgin Atlantic


Where to Stay?
On this blog, I encourage "BUY & SUPPORT LOCAL." Since I lived in Vermont, this is a familiar marketing tag line. In 2010, I recommended the following seven locally owned hotels and a villa rental company that I was familiar with. I see no need to mention foreign hotels when our locally owned hotels are affordable. Some of the local hotels mentioned below offer activities for guests.  Some have their own spas, restaurants and bars. Probably you can ask about possible CARICOM or carnival rates.

The seven hotels are located in the most touristy area of St.Lucia, called Gros Islet. Gros Islet lies north of our capital, Castries. It is home of the Friday Night Street Party, The Beausejour Cricket Grounds and the 2 major carnival fetes; Color Me Red and Outrageous Sexy in Black.

It is a fifteen minute car drive between the capital of Castries and Gros Islet. If you land in the smaller regional airport, George F.L Charles (Vigie/SLU), expect a 15 minute drive to any of the hotels, I have recommended. If you land in Hewannora International Airport (UVF), in the south of island, in Vieux Fort, expect an hour drive to Gros Islet. 

Rodney Bay is a bay within Gros Islet ... there are 2 shopping malls opposite each other; JQ Mall and BayWalk Mall, restaurants, bars, ice cream and coffee shops, banks, hotels, the Rodney Bay Marina and beaches. All within 15 minutes walking distance of each other. Rodney Bay is the heart of our tourist areas.

So I suggest that you stay any where between Castries and Gros Islet. ... And the only hotel, I recommend in Castries is Auberge Seraphine, also known for its wonderful local lunch menu! 

I'm also very proud to say our LOCAL HOTELS are far more UP-SCALE than local guest houses in Trinidad. So what one might spend for Trinidad accommodations, St.Lucian accommodations are far superior at the local level.
Areas seen on this map along the Castries-Gros Islet Hgwy are no more than 5 minutes drive, unless of traffic. Public transportation is available anywhere along the main Castries to Gros Islet Hgwy

1. BAY GARDENS HOTELS 
I frequent the Bay Gardens Beach Resort.  I always seem to have a reason to visit may it be spending the day there at the pool and beach, I do brunch or cocktails with family and friends, I go to the spa there and I have even dined at its restaurant. So if you choose any of their 3 properties ... just let me know! Bay Gardens Hotels offer 3 different hotels with 3 different prices ranges. ... And like Sandals, you can stay at one ... play at 3.


Bay Gardens INN and HOTEL are within a two minutes walk of each other, located near the malls, 2-3 minutes away.  And they are a 10-15 minute walk from the BEACH RESORT.  I am certain there is transport among them.

The BEACH RESORT is located on one of St.Lucia's best beaches, Reduit Beach (The Ramp).  It has a SPA. In the heart of Rodney Bay which is a very touristy area with restaurants, hotels, shopping, coffee and ice cream shops, etc.  Basically nightlife. When you click on the websites of each, they will tell you exactly what's available.

2. Tuxedo Villas is located opposite the entrance of the most popular beach, Reduit Beach (The Ramp).  The rooms are self contained and it feels like staying in a home.  I am familiar with that hotel, 'cause I have aunts who occasionally stay here.  ... And my family and I, have all hung out there. Perfect for a group of friends who may want their own space/room, more than willing to split the cost.

3. Palm Haven Hotel is located opposite The Rodney Bay Marina, a five minute drive from the Rodney Bay Marnia entrance ... and do check out BoardWalk bar on the waterfront, Elena's ice cream and pizza.  The marina is a fun place to hang out with the locals and boat-men!

4. Coco Resorts: Coco Palm & Coco Creole.  I have briefly been on the compound of this hotel for a fashion show and picking up tickets.  It does look nice in the lobby, etc.  I have friends who frequent the Ti Bananne Bar. ... And some talk about a wonderful Sunday local brunch.  Opposite this hotel is one of my favorite bars, Delirius.  More expensive than local rum shops but plenty energy; great mix of people, nice food and cocktails.

5.  Tropical Villas - If you're in the market for a villa rental. My foreign family and in-laws have stayed in their villas. ... And if you book with them, please let me know. 

More Hotels, Apartments & GuestHouses
(just my suggestions based on price, I am not familiar with them, except for the first four)
... And that's cause I visited them in this: My Recent St.Lucia Trip: May 2009
St.Lucia Carnival Bands
Red Unlimited
Just 4 Fun
Toxik
XS Energy
Mas Action
St.Lucian Spirit
Rituals
Royalites Xtreme
People's Choice
Looshan Revellers
La Mosaique
Cozy Guzzlers
HIT Radio T-Shirt Band

What is the Carnival Parade Route?
Carnival revelers start from Caribbean Cinemas (Choc) to the centre of town, Castries, jumping along the Castries/Gros Islet Highway. The route is about 4.5km or 2.8 miles. As seen on this Google map, it starts from Point A (starting point) to Point C (ending point) and beyond. 

Last year, a lil' stage was built for revelers by the Vigie Sports Complex (Point B on the map). The Castries Central Market is a judging point (Point C on the map).  From this point onwards, the Castries city streets get narrow and congested, 'cause at this point music trucks slow down and spectators on city streets jump in the band. This is also the time to find friends in various bands, simply by connecting from one side street to the next. Bands are free to parade the Castries city streets as many times as they can until the cut off time of 6:00 p.m. or until the police decide it is no longer safe to do so.

All in all, get ready to have a good time. Expect soca music infused with a strong French sound, maybe you'll learn some patois too. Expect to run, if you're a straggler such as myself. Expect madness. Expect no one to get into sections, 'though it would be nice for judging points. Despite the band, expect at the end of it all, the feeling of not wanting to go home. 

Carnival Monday and Tuesday... 
Start Time & Costumes!
Unlike Trinidadians who opt for Carnival Monday wear, St.Lucians wear their COSTUME on both days. Also Carnival Monday is our main judging day. So FULL COSTUME is a must. Carnival Monday should start by 10AM. Carnival Tuesday is half day work, so the parade starts after midday.

All Inclusive Drink Trucks
'Though all-inclusive drink trucks have always been a part of our carnival, the service is so-so. Both Just 4 Fun and Red Unlimited revelers have complained about slower service, excuses like "we only have water now, or no water now, or we ran out of ... , wait till we restock, etc." I suppose if you pay for a VIP package in either one of those bands, you should get no excuses! The only band whose revelers never complain about the continuous flow of liquor is Rituals. Nonetheless, what ever your carnival band you will get liquored up.

Some revelers still walk with canteens, fancy pimp cups, bowls. I do too. Any container that holds liquor, a Lucian will drink out of it! Look out for  the potty! I had to take this picture of this guy in 2008, with his jug.

We do not sit to eat like in Trinidad. Bands do offer a light snack or lunch but you do have to stroll to the back of the band along the parade route.


Every Reason to Come to St.Lucia
Don't just come for carnival, this info can be applied to St.Lucia Jazz, Cricket, your wedding, simply come and enjoy our beautiful island. "Not Just for HoneyMooners (and carnival lovers): Everyone can find adventure in St.Lucia." 

Don't forget The Pitons which are 2 volcanic plugs and a World Heritage site, also Oprah ranked them as one of the five things to see in your lifetime, before kicking the bucket (death). Also come visit the world's only drive in volcano, The Sulphur Springs.

My favorite tour is offered by Endless Summer Cruises, and it is the Soufriere Extravaganza Full Day Catamaran Tour. This is a whole day tour, both water and land, free cocktails and a wonderful local lunch in the town of Soufriere at a local cocoa plantation, Fond Doux Estate.

Not going to rent a car? No fear, simply contact Frank's Taxi and Tour Service, tell him 'Nyree' sent you. LOL. If you just need info on getting around here is Taxi contact information.

My favorite restaurant is The Big Chef SteakHouse, even Justin Bieber has dined here. 

Looking for bars ... head to Delirius in Rodney Bay, fun times, enjoy the mix of locals, expats and visitors to our shores.

My favorite ice cream / sorbet comes from Elena's Ice Cream Shop (Baywalk Mall, The Marina, Rodney Bay, Micoud Street) ... just try a tropical flavor.  I love the passion fruit flavor!

Not only is St.Lucia a beach destination, but we brew our own Heineken and local Piton beer. 

Do not leave our island without trying and stocking up on St.Lucia Distillers rums and Baron Foods condiments and seasonings.

Curious about phone service .... since I am familiar with LIME (Cable & Wireless) ... I usually use my unlocked phone and just add a St.Lucian SIM.  I use the pay as you go, data plan. The data plan is $10XCD a week for full service!

Need cash? Banks are everywhere.  Generally I just withdraw Eastern Caribbean dollars (XCD) from ATMs when needed.  Also US Dollars (USD) are accepted island wide, just expect that you may get gypped by inaccurate currency conversion calculations or those who will take advantage!
 IF YOU NEED MORE REASONS, VISIT: The St.Lucia Tourist Board

Then there are the videos from past St.Lucia Carnival visitors:
Video from a couple who visited our island for carnival.  HILARIOUS!  Got to love it! 

If you do book, like "Invisiblee" did in 2010, I will make every effort to make the planning of your trip effortless. Since I am encouraging you to visit my island for St.Lucia Carnival 2012, it will be my pleasure to give any information or answer any of your questions. Just email me, TheSweet7@gmail.com.

... And recently I got this tweet:

I will keep you posted, simply follow SLU Carnival 2012!

1 comment

  1. St Lucia carnival is one of the best times of the year. Weeks of celebration and partying. Found a great location, affordable, clean and in a much preferred residential area.
    stlucia villas

    ReplyDelete