Atlanta Carnival: Our First Experience
Call me shallow but I've only ever wanted to do Carnival for the costumes. Dancing up and down the road in the hot sun for hours upon hours never really appealed to me but when I had the opportunity to attend a smaller carnival with my cousins I somehow quickly agreed.
I'm not really sure what got into me because I nor my cousin/former roommate are particularly the party animals in the family. I mean we both love dancing and great music but listening to soca after a certain amount of time is not for us.
Needless to say, we had no idea what to expect from our Carnival Weekend experience but we trusted my cousins' sister who sent out the invite (and now a Carnival regular) to show us a good time.
Fast forward to after the fact... We had the time of our lives!
The experience was unbelievable from the time we landed in Atlanta to the last party on Sunday- the whole weekend was filled with good vibes and lots of fun.
If you're thinking about doing Atlanta Carnival or any Carnival for that matter and wondering what to expect... here goes the breakdown.
1) Find your band and register early. Every Carnival experience has a band that you must register with in order to be on the road. In Atlanta, we played with Mas with Panache and luckily they had costumes left by the time we decided to attend. I don't suggest waiting last minute because you won't be able to pick from many options. Panache made it super easy to register because it was literally just buying your costume. Inclusive of registration is breakfast, drinks, lunch, and entry to a concert after the road.
2) Carnival will cost you a lot of money. From costumes, accessories, hotel (if you don't have anyone to stay with), flights, shoes, parties, wings/ backpacks, tights, etc. every time you look, there will be another expense. Be sure to plan ahead and budget the amount of money you want to spend on the experience. Amazon will be your best friend, however, we ended up wasting a bit of money because half the things we bought like insoles and lashes were all included in our Panache goodie bags.
3) Backpacks - We decided to get custom backpacks/wings for our first experience to get more for our money, but we ended up really lucky with the way ours turned out due to a miss-order of feathers. We contacted the designer Ahsek Designs on Instagram and the rest was history! I picked our backpacks up from Miami and took them on the plane with me on the way, but the designer does offer shipping to save people the hassle. Honestly, after everything, the wings and her service was totally worth the investment.
4) Exercise - This is so important, not just to get in shape but to make sure you have the stamina to keep up on the road. My cousin and I started a regimen but life happened and two weeks out we stopped working out. This was a terrible decision because after 30 mins on the road, our legs were so exhausted and we had to use adrenaline to push through!
As soon as we landed in Atlanta we headed to distribution. We were pleasantly surprised because Mas with Panache gave us our costumes, goodie bags, wrist bands, and a checklist to make sure we had everything we needed for the road.
The goodie bags were so unexpected and extremely cute! They included a drink mug, carnival cd, insoles, sunscreen, snacks, shades, eyelashes, a towel, fabric tape, bra stickies, wipes, and so much more. Not to mention, everything was branded so we had souvenirs from our first carnival experience!
We also hit a couple of parties- but you have to buy tickets ahead of time to attend.
Every day there will be about 3 or 4 parties going on. I suggest choosing the ones that you know you'll enjoy because it can be a lot going on at once. We did "I Am Soca" with DJ Overdose and Private Ryan and Supa Soca with so many different Dj's (probably the best party ever!!!) along with Rhum Punch Brunch and Like Glue which are regular events in Atlanta.
THE MAIN EVENT
Carnival Day = Madness. Not only because you'll probably get home 3-4 hours before you need to be ready for the road, but because you need to get ready!
That day our bathroom was literally filled with makeup and hair stuff because we were all trying to get ready at once! We decided not to get a makeup artist and did everything at home. It probably wasn't as elaborate as it could've been but we were all happy with how our looks turned out.
Note- You will have to get used to being in public in costume because you can't really wear a cover-up while on your way to the road. Our truck was first on the line up so we had to meet in DeKalb County for 11:30 am. Yes, we were late, but we were still able to catch up with our truck which had free patties, water, and a fruity punch for the band!
I DO NOT OWN ANY OF THE MUSIC IN THIS VIDEO. NO COPYRIGHT INTENDED. ALL CREDITS GO TO RIGHTFUL OWNERS
What I loved most what that it didn't matter what costume you were in, you were still able to play and integrate with everyone on the road. The music was amazing and the energy was so high that somehow my cousin and I even ended up in the front of the band! Honestly, we had the time of our lives... almost like there were no cares in the world!
Being the first truck out and after getting there late, the road march took us about 2 hours to complete. We ended in the park where there was free lunch and the opportunity to listen to a few well-known artists like Shenseea, Lyrikal, Nailah Blackman, and Hypasounds.
Unfortunately, we were too tired to stay for the concert, but still, we first-time carnival goers couldn't have asked for a better day!
If you're unsure about doing Carnival like we were, starting off at a smaller event like Atlanta DeKalb Carnival with Panache is perfect! Just be sure to take a lot of Vitamin C so you don't get sick from all the activity!!