The Caribbean is known for its beautifully talented people, rich history, and love for music and entertainment.
There is a time of year known as “Carnival Season” when most Caribbean Islands and the Caribbean diaspora worldwide come together to fete and play Mas at Carnival. This year was especially exciting for us Caribbean natives as Carnival was back in full swing after a hiatus due to the pandemic.
I had the amazing opportunity to work with a few brands namely WiFete and GenXS to showcase the festivities and share my experience with you. If you are interested in learning more about My Jamaica Carnival Experience 2023, keep reading!
My EPIC Jamaica Carnival Experience 2023
WiFete Press Conference + Lyme
This is literally where it all started (for me) in March when I received an invitation to attend the Press Conference for WiFete. This event was specifically for Media and Sponsors so we could learn about the event and what to expect. I also met “The King of Soca” Machel Montano, who shared the importance of WiFete to the Caribbean. He explained that Carnival is not just one country, but it represents Caribbean culture as a whole which stems from oppression – from the steel pan to the dance, to even the costumes, Carnival is the heartbeat of the Caribbean.
After learning about WiFete at the Press Conference, we were also invited to the Lyme later that evening to sort of celebrate the event! This was like a mini “Lifestyle” version of the event as drinks seemed to be endless and flowed like water, there was Soca Music all through the night AND the food was epic! Broken Plate, served up a tasty oxtail fried rice, vegan sliders, shrimp, escovitch fish, and other tasty delights. It’s safe to say, my interest was piqued and my taste buds were tantalized! I gave both events 10/10.
King of Soca Book Launch
At the Press Conference, I was also introduced to Machel Montano’s Mom Elizabeth Montano, or “Lady” as she is affectionately called who hinted at a book. It was no surprise when I received an invitation to attend the Book Launch.
The event was held at the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road, which made the perfect venue as it’s a great way to merge Reggae and Jamaican Culture with Soca.
Here, we went on a journey with Machel Montano from age 9 to current, as captured by his mom. For this event, he opted to be seated as he addressed the audience and shared his journey from being “Too Young to Soca” to telling people to “Like Yuh Self”. We saw a more somber and reflective side of the “King of Soca”, which was quite different from his energetic “winey, winey” persona as he describes it.
For Machel, it’s all about the journey of life and being able to evolve with all the changes whether that is good or bad.
The atmosphere was Soca meets Reggae and Dancehall as there was Pasta, Jerked Chicken, and Festival and your choice of wines and/or fruit juice to wash it all down.
I give this event a 9/10 as I felt Machel’s Trinidadian culture could have been represented more through the food, maybe Doubles could have been on the menu.
WiFete Music Festival
The BIG Night finally arrived and I made my way down to Sabina Park for the 1st staging of WiFete. I arrived after 4 pm as I covered the event as Media and I wanted to secure parking and get a “lay of the land” before it got crowded.
There were a couple of hiccups as it relates to parking as myself and a few others were given multiple instructions that saw us driving around in circles, parking, and told to move again. This was resolved in a little over an hour after the security team was given instructions as it relates to parking.
Fast-forward to show time and I was not disappointed. Things picked up a few minutes after 9 pm when Nailah Blackman performed on stage with her 2018 hit “Iron Love” and then joined by “Skinny Fabulous” where they sang “Come Home”.
Other performers of the night included Iwer George, Valiant, Byron Messia, Stalk Ashley, and the “Viking King of Soca”, Bunji Garlin.
Just after 1 am, we heard the signature “yeah, yeah” as the “King of Soca”, Machel Montano, made his way on stage with his team of dancers. It was at that moment I knew that Machel Montano and Soca music has a hold on Jamaican culture! The crowd literally went wild as they all showed their worst behavior.
After a few minutes, Machel was joined on stage by Agent Sasco and Voice where they performed the 2023 single, “Welcome Home”. The event ended just a little after 2 am, though it seemed patrons were just getting ready to party.
I gave this event an 8/10 just because of the parking situation and the food! There was one main “Food” option in VIP which was KFC which showed up late and ran out of food. There could have been a Media area (separate from backstage) or within that space that offered refreshments and just an overall place to get info.
Disclaimer: There was a main food area towards the back of the Venue that had other food items for purchase. There was also Soup provided by Grace Foods in the VIP area and their set up was on time I actually was able to enjoy a few samples.
Click HERE to read my review in the Jamaica Observer
Jamaica Carnival Road March with GenXS
Carnival Sunday was in full swing and I was tired! I was to share my experience about the Road March experience with the GenXS team so I dressed in full Carnival garb and made my way to the final stop for the day!
I was able to interview a few people who shared their experiences and they all decided on the GenXS band because it was generating a lot of buzz in Miami and they were impressed with all the Food and Events. Once you had a GenXS band, it meant you had access to Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and other events associated with the band.
The lunch stop not only featured lunch but cold towels, make-up touch up, and even a massage! That’s rich!
As the revellers made their way to the Barbican Centre, It was clear why GenXS was the Carnival Band of Jamaica Carnival 2023! They were organized! There were trucks that not only provided music for the remainder of the day but also libations! There were also brands like Sunshine Snacks, and Catherine’s Peak sharing their offerings with revellers that kept them fed as they waited on dinner. KFC was the second dinner choice of the day as there was a company that supplied hot wraps, but they again came late so there was a wait time between food companies.
This for me was a 9/10 just because of the timing between the food ran sponsors and revelers having to wait on KFC to arrive, set-up, and start serving.
My Jamaica Carnival Experience 2023 was quite enjoyable and I would definitely do it next year, but I would plan better as it relates to my energy level. I would probably take a B12 Shot and maybe start walking as exercise so my body would have been used to it by the time Carnival rolls around.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to invite me to events, collaborations, and partnerships!
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Image of Machel Montano at the Book launch is the Courtesy of Curious Media | All Rights Reserved