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An Local’s Guide to St. Thomas Carnival – the Pearl of the Caribbean
***** Due to the current situation regarding COVID-19 St Thomas Carnival has been postponed until later in the year! *****
April 4th, 2020
May 2nd, 2020
- 1 What is Carnival in St. Thomas?
- 2 When is Carnival in St. Thomas?
- 3 Where is Carnival in St. Thomas?
- 4 What is the history of St. Thomas Carnival?
- 5 How do they celebrate carnival in St. Thomas?
- 6 The Carnival Village
- 7 St. Thomas Carnival 2020 official Schedule
- 8 How to get to and around St. Thomas
- 9 Where to stay in St. Thomas
- 10 What to do and see in St. Thomas
What is Carnival in St. Thomas?
In the Virgin Islands, carnival is a big deal! Carnival is the biggest and most anticipated annual event in St. Thomas! The St. Thomas Carnival is the biggest party of the year. The locals love their carnival and the St. Thomas Carnival is a sensory explosion of colorful costumes, masquerade parades, Caribbean music and revelry.
This year’s carnival is all about celebrating St Thomas’ culture, cuisine, history, music and people! The chosen slogan for carnival is “All Eyes on We for 2020!” St. Thomas Carnival is about celebrating life and freedom which is done through costumes, dancing, parades, parties, pageantry, music, food, drinks, singing, family, friends and lots of fun. There are loads of live music shows, pageants, fairs and mouth-watering local food and drinks consumed.
But carnival is so much more than just one giant party! St. Thomas Carnival is about celebrating and embracing local culture and the unique traditions and heritage of the island, which are a mix of both African, European and Caribbean customs.
When is Carnival in St. Thomas?
Due to the current situation regarding COVID-19 St Thomas Carnival has been postponed until later in the year!
Carnival in the US Virgin Islands occurs at different times throughout the year. The St. Thomas Carnival is an annual post-Easter Carnival, usually held around April/May. St. Thomas Carnival is actually the second largest Caribbean Carnival celebration, as it runs as a month long event.
The official 2020 St. Thomas Carnival dates will run from April 4th to May 2nd 20.
Where is Carnival in St. Thomas?
Saint Thomas is located in the Caribbean Sea. Along with St. John, Water Island and St. Croix, it forms the United States Virgin Islands. The territorial capital and port of Charlotte Amalie is located on the island and this is where the majority of the carnival activities will occur.
What is the history of St. Thomas Carnival?
Carnival in St. Thomas began over 100 years ago! The first carnival was held in 1912 as a way to celebrate local culture. But it took 38 years before the carnival was officially turned into an annual event! In 1952 a man named Ron de Lugo revived carnival in St. Thomas and the celebrations continued to grow in popularity ever since.
How do they celebrate carnival in St. Thomas?
Carnival in St. Thomas is a month long celebration filled with events. You have dazzling pageants and talent shows that are about electing the carnival royalty. . The events are created so that people from all stages and walks of life are part of carnival! There There are loads of fun and random events like a greased pig contest, boat races and a toddlers derby.
There is also some very prestigious set of elimination contests which reward the top entertainers called Calypso Tents. These performers usually offer satirical commentary about affairs on the island or will often mock politicians and the elite.
There are loads of live music shows featuring calypso, steel pan or soca music. There are performances by Spectrum Band, Calypso Monarch contestants and many other local as well as regional artists. Lots of chances to dance and party. There are colorful firework displays, amusement park rides and loads of activities for the kids.
The last week of carnival in St. Thomas is when things really start to heat up and the more popular events occur as well as most of the hard core partying. The most popular events are J’ouvert, a morning jump up, the crowning of the Carnival King and Queen and the Food Fair.
The most popular events with the highest attendance are the two parades, the children’s and adults parade which feature the most colorful costumes, floats, decorated troupes, loud music, incredible dancing. The parades head along the parade route which begins below Main Street and make their way to Lionel Roberts Stadium.
There is a motor sports/boat race that takes place at the waterfront. This event sees high-end vessels race for cash prizes of $20,000. Other attractions include the Food Fair, Soca Monarch Village and the Cultural Day, which is a celebration of different aspects of Virgin Islands culture and tradition.
The Carnival Village
The Carnival Village or ‘the Village’, as the locals call it, is the heart of carnival. It is essentially the carnival base and is made up of colourful booths selling delicious local and Caribbean carnival delicacies and culinary delights. Each year, an honoree is chosen, and their name is used in the title of the village. A section of the Village has a stage set up for entertainment.
St. Thomas Carnival 2020 official Schedule
The official 2020 St. Thomas Carnival schedule
- Calypso Elimination: 7:00 pm, Saturday 4th, 2020 @ Havensight
- Carnival Prince and Princess Pageants: 5:00pm, Sunday 12th April, 2020 @ UVI Sports & Fitness Center
- Carnival Queen Selection Show: Saturday, 18th April, 2020 @ UVI Sports & Fitness Center
- Toddlers Deby and Best Dressed Doll: 10:00am, Sunday, 19th April 2020 @ Roy Schneider Hospital
- Hospital Show: Monday, 20th April, 2020 @ Roy Schneider Hospital
- Stanley & TSK Tramp: 6:00pm, Wednesday, 22nd April, 2020
- Junior Calypso Competition: Thursday, 23rd April, 2020 @ St. Thomas Village
- The Carnival Village Opens and remains open all day for the duration of carnival: 24th April – 3rd May, 2020.
- Calypso Finals: 8:00pm, Saturday, 25th April, 2020 @ Havensight
- Coronation: 9:00am, Sunday, 26th April, 2020 @ Emancipation Garden
- Motor Sports Sunday Boat Race: 5:00pm, Sunday, 26th April, 2020 @ St Thomas Harbour
- Car Show: 6:00pm, Sunday, 26th April, 2020 @ Lionel Roberts Stadium
- Steelpan Jamboree: Sunday, 26th April 2020 @ Emancipation Gardens
- Teen Tramp: 6:00pm, Monday, 27th April, 2020
- Soca Monarch Village: 7:00pm, Monday, 27th April, 2020 @ St. Thomas Village
- Rising Stars Annual Tramp: All Day, Tuesday, 28th April, 2020 @ Market Square
- Food Fair: 8:00pm, Wednesday, 29th April, 2020 @ Emancipation Garden.
- J’ouvert/Wet Fete: 4:00am, Thursday, 20th April, 2020 @ St. Thomas Village
- Children’s Parade: All Day, Friday 1st May, 2020
- Adults Parade: All day, Saturday 2nd May, 2020
- Carnival Fireworks: 9:00pm, Sunday 3rd May, 2020.
How to get to and around St. Thomas
There are only two ways to get to St. Thomas and that is by air or by sea. There is a major airport located on St. Thomas; the Cyril E. King Airport. There are numerous non-stop and connecting services from the US mainland. To get a quote for a flight click here.
There are public busses that run around St. Thomas but your best bet is to rent a car at the airport. There are many leading car-rental firms offering competitive rates. Alternatively you can also use a taxi to shuttle you around the island. Get a quote for a rental car here.
Where to stay in St. Thomas
This really depends on your budget and the level of comfort your are seeking. There are so many accommodation options in St. Thomas from luxury resorts and hotels, to apartment rentals and budget accommodation. If you want to be close to everything the best place to stay is on the East End near Red Hook as there are great beaches, shops restaurants and close to ferry to St. John.
Check out some accomodation deals here.
What to do and see in St. Thomas
Tourists from all around the world flock to St. Thomas because of its abundance of natural beauty. Seafarers love St. Thomas because of its sheltered harbors that were loved ever since pirates sailed the seas.
St. Thomas is actually one of the busiest and most developed ports in the West Indies. Charlotte Amalie, the island’s historic capital is full of life. You can immerse yourself in the capital, enjoying the hustle and bustle, grab a drink at a beach bar in Frenchtown, relax the day away on any one of the beautiful beaches or sail the beautiful turquoise bays and explore secret coves.
For more information about tours, things to do, sightseeing tours, day trips and more click here.