The Ultimate Guide to Antigua Carnival

2024 Planning Guide 

The History of Antigua Carnival

According to, Antigua’s first official carnival celebrations took place in August 1957. Prior to, carnival and cultural celebrations took place during the Christmas holidays until Queen Elizabeth the II’s coronation where a one day carnival was organized in June of 1953 to mark the occasion. This organization of this one day affair was credited to Chairman, Mr. John Ferdie Shoul. In 1956, Mr. Shoul and Mr. Maurice Ambrose (a musician/builder from the Virgin Islands) lobbied for government funding and permission to make Carnival Monday (August Monday) a national holiday and the official date for the Antigua Carnival.

In Antigua, carnival celebrations held in the summertime simultaneously marked the celebration of emancipation from slavery while also serving as a tourist attraction. Over the years, Antigua’s carnival evolved from a one day celebration to several weeks of parades, carnival concerts, a Caribbean Queen pageant and more.

Carnival Season & Parade Dates

Antigua Carnival is a three-day affair dubbed as “The Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival.” The festivities start on July 25th, 2024  and continue until August 6th, 2024. The three days of celebrating include a t-shirt mas which is usually held the Saturday before the Calypso Monarch, Party Monarch competitions and Monday and Tuesday Mas.

Arrivals & Departures

Antigua & Barbuda is accessible by way of the V.C. Bird International Airport (ANU), which is about 17 minutes away from the capital, St. John’s.


As most fetes and carnival-related events will take place in St. John’s, we recommend staying in the capital, anywhere along the parade route or in other areas like Jolly Harbour and English Harbour, which are a little south of St. John’s (about 26 minutes away by car).

Our top five recommendations for lodging are:

Local Currency

The currency used in Antigua & Barbuda is the East Caribbean Dollar (XCD), though the US dollar is accepted. The currency rate is fixed at US$1 = XCD$2.68 and while most businesses accept international credit and debit cards, many only accept cash.

Getting Around

Getting around during carnival is best via car and you can rent a car at the airport (V.C. Bird International) or get a taxi at the airport. According to, transportation approved by the Antigua and Barbuda airport authority are:

Taxis can be identified by badges that are placed in the front windows of their vehicles and drivers will be in uniform. You can also check updated taxi vendors and reviews on TripAdvisor for Antigua.

Active Bands 

The active bands for 2024 are:

Can’t Miss Events

Fete staples for Antigua Carnival include:

and more events. Antiguans come out in droves for their cultural events such as the Calypso Monarch, Party Monarch, Jaycee’s Queen Show and more.

The Road March Experience

Antigua Carnival boasts of a 3 day parade experience starting with T-Shirt Mas. Revelers gather the weekend before in the streets of St. John in themed t-shirts and bodywear depending on their troupe of choice. Often, you’ll see t-shirts styled into custom bodywear that masqueraders will wear during the parade. The parade begins late morning/early afternoon and goes straight into the evening hours. It’s a more “freeing” experience like a Carnival Monday with bands competing for band of the year.

The J’ouvert Experience

Jouvert is held during the early morning hours on Carnival Monday. If you’re interested in paying j’ouvert, you can sign up with one of the following troupes:



J’ouvert is also called Dutty Mas in Antigua and can be seen as a procession on the street or held in a large field (example: Insane Carnival’s Dutty Mas). Music played during Dutty Mas spans from the local Antiguan music including classics from Burning Flames to Bouyon music from Dominica, Wilders from Saint Kitts & Nevis and more. Antiguans love to demonstrate their local dances and antics using Baygon or breaking large pieces of branches and frolicking with them. Dutty Mas consists of use of mud, clay, oil, paint, powder and water so prepare to get dutty.

Carnival Monday

Hours after J’ouvert, revelers hurry to get ready for Carnival Monday. Depending on the troupe, you can wear what’s provided as Monday Wear in your costume package or wear your own individual Monday Wear. Bands meet up in the early afternoon to take the streets of St. John, Antigua. You definitely need to have some level of endurance/stamina because the road march route consists of several hills and continues into the evening past sunset without a lunch stop in between, but most bands will feed their masqueraders at the start and end of the parade.

Carnival Tuesday

Carnival Tuesday is the day where you wear your full costume; bands are judged for Band of The Year and revelers are lined up in their sections while parading in the streets with locals looking on. One of the main judging points is Market Street where you must remain in your section and the bands proceed until judging is complete at that particular portion of the parade. Afterwards, sections can mix up within their band.

Throughout parade days, things that set Antigua Carnival apart is their love for Burning Flames and their local music which plays throughout all 3 days of mas, jouvert, fetes and so on. You’ll also see displays of revelers utilizing cans of baygon to “add to the vibes” on the road as well as a lot of local dances that involve simple footwork once you get acclimated to the music. All parade days end after sunset and often revelers will still be in the streets past 9pm/10pm.

Beyond Mas

Antigua has a lot to offer in terms of attractions. Known as the land of 365 beaches, you won’t tire of beach hopping. In terms of cuisine, you should try food like goat water, buy black pineapple at stalls on the side of the road, and savor seafood from restaurants like Papa Zouk.

If you’re looking for a little adventure, visit Stingray City or view the scenery at Sheer Rocks, Antigua’s gorgeous west coast or Shirley Heights, an old military outlook post with gorgeous views of English Harbour.

The Ultimate Guide to Antigua Carnival

Our highly-anticipated 2024 Ultimate Guide to Antigua Carnival is here! Lock in those flights and stays, for a fete-filled time…
The Ultimate Guide to Jamaica Carnival

The Ultimate Guide to Jamaica Carnival

Our highly-anticipated 2024 Ultimate Guide to Jamaica Carnival is here! Lock in those flights and stays, for a fete-filled time…
Mas in Miami Is Unlike Anything Else

Mas in Miami Is Unlike Anything Else

A few weeks ago, masqueraders took to the streets of Miami for a colourful celebration of Caribbean culture
The Ultimate Guide to Sugar Mas (St. Kitts & Nevis Carnival)

The Ultimate Guide to Sugar Mas (St. Kitts & Nevis Carnival)

Experience the sweetness of St. Kitts & Nevis during Sugar Mas, which combines the festivities of Christmas with the pageantry…
The Ultimate Guide to Saving For Carnival

The Ultimate Guide to Saving For Carnival

With our guide, discover how you can chase carnivals without breaking the bank and by saving up your coins for…
Scroll to Top