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Where You Too Can Carnival

Where You Too Can Carnival

by Hope Heldmar

If you revel in the celebration of Mardi Gras but want to take it to the next level, then you've got to experience Carnival in the Caribbean. Most Carnival celebrations take place between February and March, right before spring break. At this time of the year, the western hemisphere just about loses its mind. Carnival is the party of the year for most islands, complete with week-long parades, spectacular costumes, street festivals, dancing, and more.

We circled the Caribbean and rounded up five of the best destinations for Carnival celebrations, along with some of the most accessible resorts in which to stay and enjoy the coolest parties.


resorts to stay in during Carnival in Cancun

Cancun is a world-renowned vacation destination, and the nearby island of Cozumel hosts a Carnival that's as raucous as it is relaxing.

Where It Goes Down:
San Miguel, Cozumel, Mexico

How to Get Down:
Cozumel's Carnival is a fantastic blend of small island vibe and Mexican culture. Start your day at the main square downtown, called Parque Benito Juarez. You'll find local vendors selling food and crafts. There are also dance contests, and the main square is the site of the Carnival parade.

The other focal point is Moby Dick Hall which hosts concerts, dance contests and the coronations of Carnival royalty. The coronations are open to the public, but subsequent events require advance ticket purchase. Just talk to your resort concierge when you arrive, because the fanfare at Moby Dick Hall is part of what makes Cozumel's Carnival so special.

Where to Lie Down:
In Cozumel, couples can stay later at the parties and recover the next day at Secrets Aura Cozumel's spa. Families can split their time between the fun of resort activities and the unforgettable experience of Carnival at Sunscape Sabor Cozumel.

From Cancun, you can easily get to Cozumel's Carnival by taking a 45-minute ferry ride from the mainland to the island. Staying in Cancun gives you tons of resort options like Dreams Cancun, where families can spend one or two days enjoying Carnival, then go visit the Mayan ruins. Couples who want to experience Carnival but still have access to the dining, shopping, and cultural activities available in Cancun can stay at Secrets the Vine.

Helpful Hint:
Carnival is pronounced car-na-VAL in Spanish.


resorts to stay in during Carnival in the USVI - St. Thomas

Luckily, some of the best Carnival celebrations are also the easiest to get to. To hit the Carnival celebrations in the USVI, US citizens don't even need passports.

Where It Goes Down
Charlotte-Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

How to Get Down:
The US Virgin Islands offers three different parties on three islands, and the largest of these is on St. Thomas. Stop by the Carnival Village to tour over 30 booths offering an array of delicious local delicacies and desserts. Don't miss events like the Cultural Fair, where local chefs and crafters set up tables with tons of great gifts, keepsakes and, of course, delicious food. Plus, in many cases, much of the proceeds from these tables goes to charity.

The most classically "Carnival" moment on St. Thomas is the Adult's Parade. The floats and costumes glimmer in myriad colors, as people line the streets to cheer and celebrate. The parade and accompanying festivities last well into the night.

Where to Lie Down:
Both Marriott Frenchman's Reef and Bolongo Bay are on the southern coast of St. Thomas, just east of Charlotte-Amalie.

Helpful Hint:
The Virgin Islands Carnival Committee has created an app that keeps you updated on all of their events and celebrations.


resorts to stay in during Carnival in the Dominican Republic

Want the Carnival experience on a slightly lower register? Punta Cana distills the best of the Dominican Republic's Carnivals into a one-day parade.

Where It Goes Down
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

How to Get Down:
On March 8, the Carnival Parade, featuring the most exciting elements from Carnival celebrations all over the Dominican Republic, is held in Puntacana Village. Carnival Season actually lasts through most of February in the Dominican Republic, but this later celebration in Punta Cana shows off the best of Carnival in one parade. You'll see all the colorful costumes and opulent floats you expect from Carnival, wrapped up in a one-day parading party.

Where to Lie Down:
Now Larimar Punta Cana caters to families - especially those with older kids. Breathless Punta Cana is always in a party frame of mind, so those staying at this adults-only resort will find plenty to love at Carnival.

Helpful Hint:
Some resorts near Puntacana Village are about an hour drive away, so make sure you schedule your transportation plans ahead of time.


resorts to stay in during Carnival in Aruba

You'll get a vast sampling of some of the Caribbean's most wonderful sights and sounds when you go to Aruba's Carnival.

Where It Goes Down
Oranjestad, Aruba

How to Get Down:
Visiting Aruba during Carnival is a must. You'll get a taste of everything that's great about this Caribbean holiday, including colorful floats, luxurious customs, light parades, a children's parade, and endless amounts of glitter. You'll also get to hear a variety of Caribbean sounds like Antillean Tumba music, Calypso and steel bands, salsa groups, marching bands, and a bit of Dutch oom-pa-pa.

This month-long party is so intense that Mondays are officially designated as a resting day.

Where to Lie Down:
In Aruba, we recommend heading to the All-Inclusive Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. This resort is right in the heart of Oranjestad, where most of the island's Carnival festivities take place. In your downtime, you'll enjoy this resort for its private beaches and great spa, where you can rejuvenate after a night of celebration.

Helpful Hint:
Make your reservations well in advance, because everyone wants to visit Aruba during Carnival.


resorts to stay in during Carnival in Curacao

In Curacao, there's an eye-boggling, month-long Carnival celebration that ends with a gigantic Grand Carnival Parade dancing through the streets of Willemstad.

Where It Goes Down
Willemstad, Curacao

How to Get Down:
There are two ways for you to enjoy this Carnival. The first is by being one of thousands of spectators who line the streets to witness an impressive array of multi-colored dance groups. The other is by putting on your dancing shoes and being a participant in the event! We can't think of a better way to get involved in the festivities than by dancing along to the beat of Tumba, Curacao's official Carnival music.

Where to Lie Down:
We know the perfect place to watch all the action. The All-Inclusive Renaissance Curacao Resort and Casino is located right where the parade route finishes. You'll also love its 11 delicious restaurants and status as a PADI Five-Star Golden Palm Resort.

Helpful Hint:
Visit the Carnival's official website to find out what groups welcome visitors.


Forget about Mardi Gras in New Orleans! Why stay in the states when you can vacation in the Caribbean and join in on a Carnival celebration, all for one great price?

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