If you do not know by now, Carnival Chasing is a "thing" and it is growing every single year. Thousands of people island hop throughout the year to experience one carnival after another, from Trinidad to Jamaica, Hollywood, Bermuda, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, St. Vincent, Grenada, Berlin, UK and of course Toronto. However, we are just around the corner from what most would consider the 2nd most popular island Carnival, BARBADOS CROPOVER! Now given that Barbados is celebrating 50 strong years of independence, we have to give you a bit of history. Cropover has origins dating back to the 1780s when Barbados was the worlds largest producer of sugar cane and "cropover" was a celebration to signify another successful sugar cane harvest. After the decline of the industry, the Cropover celebration was eventually terminated in 1940s, but later revived in the 1970s and it has thrived ever since. We had the pleasure of attending Cropover last year and we had an amazing time. We attended massive parties on Barbados' many beautiful beaches, partied on the legendary cruise and party ship, the Jolly Roger and even got to snorkel with the epic Cool Runnings Catarmaran Crew. There is so much to see in Barbados so for those who are going for Cropover or those who will be going next year, here is a short and sweet 5 Step Guide to the Cropover Experience:1. Getting There: Flights/Accommodations
The key aspect of planning for any carnival is to begin planning literally a year in advance to get the best deals on flights and accommodations. You don't have to book everything a year in advance but if you are a rookie, its best to do your research first. Ask people you know when they booked their flight and with who and where they stayed. This gives you a good idea of where to start. A good place to find flight deals is a travel company called Marville who specialize in direct flights from Toronto to Barbados at an affordable rate. Try checking in with them between March-May, right after Trinidad carnival to take advantage of any deals. In terms of accommodations there are plenty hotels and beautiful guest house steps from the beach that fit any size travel group.One such hotel is Coral Mist Beach Hotel located in the very popular parish of Christ Church (this is usually where many Cropover travellers stay) but if you ask around you will have many more options. If there is one place that has many hotels and attractions, it is a place called St Lawrence Gap or better know as The Gap. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs where Cropovers flock for food and entertainment. Ask about the Gap Burger, you will need one of a night of feteing.
2. Getting Familiar: Bajan Soca
Bajan Soca has a very unique sound and is not like the mainstream Trini soca that you will hear most often. Veteran artists like Biggie Irie, Alison Hinds, & Lil Rick have had massive success while the new-school of artists like King Bubba & Stiffy have really made a name for themselves in more recent years. It is necessary that you catch up on the unique sound and body bumping base line that Bajan Soca delivers because to be honest, it is not everyone's cup of team, especially if you used to hearing artist like Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin, but once you give it a try, guaranteed you will be jukking like a True Bajan. To get you caught up, popular Bajan DJ , DJ Puffy has his annual Cropover 2016 Soca Sampler that gives you the rundown of the biggest Bajan tracks. Check out DJ Puffy rocking our own Bajan TDOT Tank Top and representing for Barbados as he does so well all over the world. Be sure to check our WorldWide collection and represent you island wherever you go!
DJ Puffy from Barbados rocking our BAJAN TDOT TANK
Also, internationally known Trinidadian DJ, Private Ryan, always comes correct with this Cropover mix. Take a listen to both and that should get you right up to speed.
3.Get Dressed: Kadooment Day
Now this is why you do Carnival! Yes the parties are amazing, but unless you have played mas a thousand times, you do not go to an island carnival for the first time without playing mas, it is almost blasphemous! Barbados Carnival Day is called Kadooment, where the biggest and baddest bands march down the road with their big trucks, dazzling costumes and beautiful masqueraders. Kadooment has seen the likes of soca artists such as Machel Montano, Angela Hunte and celebrities such as Amber Rose, AJ Calloway, and Barbados' very own, Rihanna who always wears a eye-popping costume.
Now there are many choices when it comes to playing mas and it is important you play with the right band and the right people. There are popular bands that you will hear about if you ask around like Baje, Krave or Zulu, all having thousands filling their sections and the top designers working on their costumes. However, if you are one of those people who want a full and lavish Kadooment experience, check out LUX VIP, premium section with a premium experience, who are giving masqueraders more than just a costume. Their premium packages are full with additional discounts, goodie bags, gifts and exclusive access to premium parties and events. Either way, as long as your are on the road on Kadooment Day, that is all that matters.
4. Getting Turnt UP: Non Stop Parties
Cropover parties are one of a kind and are usually all inclusive, meaning you pay a higher price but you can eat and drink until you fall down.Coming from Toronto where the drinks are $8-$10 for a measured pour and all inclusive parties are almost unheard of, all inclusive parties are rampant for Cropover and the bartendars have a heavy hand if you know what we mean :). Whether it is on a boat like Jolly Roger which hosts Booze Cruise, or a catamaran party called Limerz, or upscale drink/food inclusive outdoor event called Bliss, non stop drinking is the theme of many parties. The festivities usually start the week before Kadooment Day which is the following Monday so people get warmed up with parties like Fyah De Wuk and Lush. Then comes one of the craziest experience you will ever have; Foreday, an early morning parade starting around 1 am and concludes around 6 am. It is a high energy and heart pumping night that is filled with paint, powder, mud and whatever else someone can throw at you.There is no preparation for this but just be prepared for a night of non stop drinking, dancing and amazing vibes. There are a number of Foreday bands you can jump with and last year we had the pleasure of joining Bakshun for Foreday and boy, was it full of non stop action. Look up Foreday and Foreday bands, ask friends about recommendations and we are sure you will land on something awesome.
5. Geting Some Culture: Exploring the Island
Finally, if you ever come down from the euphoric sensation of all inclusive parties, Foreday morning and Kadooment Day (which will probably be never) find some time to relax and actually see some of the island. Barbados boasts some of the best beaches and the great thing is that there are so many of them; about 61 to be exact. From Pink Sand to White Sand, some of the most popular ones you will definitely hear about are Accra, Brownes and Miami Beach. When you are done there, head down to a popular fish fry called Oistins which is a must when on the island. Get some flying fish which you will absolutely love.
You might even catch some performances but there will definitely be music and plenty of authentic Bajan food to devour. Lastly, book a catamaran tour with the Cool Runnings Crew.
They will take you on an adventure you will never forget! They will entertain you, educate you about the island, feed you some great food, make you some drinks that will definitely loosen you up, take you snorkeling feed giant turtles so they can come close enough for you to pet them, take you to a coral reef, visit an underwater shipwreck, swim in the bluest waters you've ever been in and then party all the way back to the dock, all while keeping you safe! It was the first time we snorkeled and I was personally terrified but the crew lead men, women and children into the ocean and back on the boat with such care and professionalism. This is definitely Clutch Recommended! See below for some amazing pics from our Catamaran Adventure:
Repping the TDOT and Snorkeling
Cool Runnings Crew Member showing everyone how to live on the edge
Clear Blue Water
Partying with the Cool Runnings Crew
There is so much more to Barbados but this was just to give you a little taste of the experience. If you still not convinced, check out some of our pics from our trip last year and you will see this is something you don't want to miss.
Having fun on Booze Cruise with folks from the TDOT
Kadooment Day with Friends