The Ultimate Guide to Saving For Carnival

It’s no secret that carnival has the potential to produce expenses as long as a CVS receipt. Between paying for your costume, fete tickets, accommodation, flights, transportation, hair, makeup, outfits, treatments and every other activity to help you get ready before arriving on the road, carnival can be an expensive endeavor. However, playing mas doesn’t have to be the financial hit that it very much has the potential to be. Our team, an experienced group of carnival chasers, compiled a list of ways to chop the costs so you can wukkup without worry. 

Read our Signature Ultimate Guides

Of course, your planning begins with reading our Ultimate Guides.They are our no-frills approach to ensuring that you have as much information as possible prior to heading onto the road. In them you’ll find information about currency conversions, our accommodation and fete recommendations, the active bands of the year and what to do beyond playing mas. One Ultimate Guide to Packing for Carnival is also a good resource to help you pack and cut down on unnecessary items.

Plan & Budget in Advance

First and foremost, we’d advise planning and budgeting as far in advance as you can. For some carnivals, like Trinidad, it is not uncommon for people to plan up to a year in advance—and you’ll need to as Trinidad Carnival only continues to grow in popularity and attendance and accommodations sell out quickly—but generally, the earlier you plan, you can assess upfront what your largest costs are, which ones you can cut entirely and budget accordingly. Last minute carnival attending is a possibility, but by then, costs tend to skyrocket and you risk spending more money. Download the Carnivalist app, too, to check out what fetes and events are happening in the city you intend to play in and see if other revellers are selling their costumes in our marketplace

Plan with a Group

One of the easiest ways to cut costs is to split them amongst a group of people (aka the friends of yours who will for sure be attending). While it does require more logistics planning for more than one person, there are perks to attending carnival with a group of people: typically, promoters offer discounts for booths if people are buying in large quantities and it’s super helpful for reducing accommodation costs if you choose to rent a villa or larger spaces.

Play Outside of Frontline

We get it. Playing frontline is what most people opt into and for good reason! One of the alternatives we’ve found as a way to save some coin is to play midline, backline or in a t-shirt section, where available. If you intend to jump multiple times in a year, you can also divvy up your experience by choosing to play frontline in some road marches and backline in others. If you’re still committed to playing frontline, lookout for sections that allow you to purchase the bodywear without the backpack, that way you can get the benefit of wearing the elaborate designs that frontline costumes offer without the expense.

Buy at Early Bird Prices and Prepare Deposits In Advance

Most fetes offer early bird pricing and we recommend purchasing during those times as prices are often subject to change and increase. We also encourage signing up for newsletters and turning post notifications (especially when encouraged to do so by promoters) so you’re able to be notified as soon as tickets available, be the first to purchase them and save big.

Bands also tend to have a lower, or discounted, deposit amount shortly after band launch, so take advantage of those when you can. During the post-band launch costume rollout, bands sometimes post the cost of the section deposit in the caption when posted on socials. As part of your research, look at the costs from the year prior to get an estimate for what the deposit could be for the year you intend on playing (note that these rates could be subject to change at the discretion of the band or section). As the road march dates draw closer, it is not abnormal for bands to increase the deposit or ask for the full rate of the costume. Buy now, pay later options are also increasingly popular where available.

Opt In For a Fetes-Only or J’ouvert Experience

It’s not unheard of to attend a carnival and only opt into doing fetes or exclusively going to play j’ouvert (or t-shirt mas when available). Costumes, in general, tend to be one of the larger carnival expenses, but many carnivals have an event in their calendar that likens the road experience but are still unique in its own right. Think of Grenada and Trinidad’s J’ouvert, Barbados’ Foreday Morning Jump or Antigua’s T-Shirt Mas; people sometimes create their entire carnival experience around those events and end up saving a lot of money while doing so.

Similarly, doing a fetes-only experience definitely ensures that you’re not skimping out on a good time, but saving some money along the way. If this is the route you take, you can choose to opt in for VIP tickets and experience the premium offerings each fete has (if the fete isn’t already offering an all-access VIP experience for attendees). 

Do Your Own Hair & Makeup

Of course, one of the costs that come with playing mas is hair and makeup, and you can save a few dollars by opting in to do it yourself. Many people go to carnivals with manageable protective styles (like ponytails) and switch up the style per the event they attend. Some people also wear synthetic wigs as part of their fete and road looks as a way to cut costs.

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