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What is the best way to get from the East End to downtown for the activities? If it's driving, where do we have a hope of finding a parking spot?
Which of the Carnival activities were you interested in attending?
If you are going to the Village - park at Yacht Haven and grab a taxi both ways. Or even walk the flat 10-15 minutes.
We haven't been down for Carnival before so we could use some recommendations as to what events. Hoping the Village is easy to find, have heard it's well worth a visit. We also want to go to the parade. Anything else we shouldn't miss?
The Village is set up in the Fort Christian Parking Lot; its very easy to find. It’s the parking lot between the Fort and the Court House, right on the waterfront.
There are two parades, the Adults on Saturday May 1 and the Children's on Friday April 30. If you plan to go for the whole parade then go early and get a good spot, bring some chairs, an umbrella and/or sunscreen/hat/sunglasses and a small cooler with some drinks and snacks. If you were planning to catch a few hours and are ok with standing then you can pack lighter and just take drinks/snacks in a backpack and walk along the parade route and find a good spot. There are spots to get a drink/snack but easier when you have at least something with you.
For the adult’s parade, the first entries in the parade tend to be royalty (queens, princesses etc. from various competitions throughout the year), the final entries tend to be the large troupes, some with a few hundred participants. These larger troupes tend to have the king and queen of the band with the very large costumes (in some cases stretching from one end of the street to the other). In between are small-medium-large troupes, bands, majorette (twirlers) groups, steel pan bands, bands on trucks, mocko-jumbies, traditional entries like the Indians, etc. Mentioning this because; if you plan to stay for just a couple hours it’s better to go around the middle so you get to see some of the larger troupes.
The area in front of the post office downtown is a popular spot for both the children's and adult's parades because it’s where the troupes perform a routine for viewers, TV cameras etc. People go there early to get a good spot and it can be crowded. You can find good spots all along the parade route though. The parade route is Main Street (in the shopping area of downtown). Shops are closed on parade days.
Another really good event is the Food and Cultural Fair; it’s on Wednesday April 28, 2010. It’s a great opportunity for sampling all sorts of local food, drinks and deserts. Plus you can see and buy locally made arts and crafts that are often hard to find at any other time of the year. The artisans and cooks usually have booths and tables set up selling their foods and crafts and you walk around. A band and entertainment, for example heritage dancers or mocko-jumbies, typically perform during part of the fair.
There are cruise ship(s) in port on all three days so this will add to the traffic; can’t really avoid that but it’s something to be aware of.
As for parking... for the parades the bottom half of Mafolie Hill is closed because it leads into the parade route which is closed to car traffic. Not sure exactly what time they close it... probably sometime around 10am. It’s usually announced in the paper close to the parade dates along with other restrictions due to the carnival events. Some folks park higher up on the hill and walk the rest of the way. The suggestion of somewhere in Havensight/Yacht Haven is good but make sure you aren't in a 2 hour customer only parking spot as you might come back to a ticket. Generally people park as close to downtown as they can, including along the side of the road as long as they aren't blocking traffic, and walk the rest of the way.
If you are on island for earlier events in April... then perhaps you’d be interested in the Steel Pan Jamboree which is April 25th; this event includes various steel pan bands performing at the Ballpark (Lionel Roberts Stadium). Other evening musical events also at Lionel Roberts Stadium include a Latin Night (April 22), Soca Night (April 23) and several Calypso events (April 24, April 29). Some of the evening events require tickets which can be purchased in advance at different locations on the island, or if tickets are still available the evening of the event then they can be purchased at the door (usually for several dollars more).
For the evening events at the Ballpark you generally have to get there a little early to find a good parking spot. Again people park on the side of the roads leading to the ballpark, trying to get as close as possible and walking the rest of the way. Try to park on main roads rather than the little side roads; and when returning to your car try to stay with other people. Don't leave anything that seems remotely interesting or of value in the car. Unfortunately criminals often see Carnival events as an opportunity since lots of people are out and lots of cars are parked and unattended for at least several hours at a time. Local police patrol all the events and typically there are quite a few of them around at all the events but it’s always good to be aware.
And another event, if you are up for some really early AM partying, J’ouvert starts at 4 AM. People gather behind their favorite bands and then dance/walk/jump up/wine up/wave their flags/party… down the street behind the band. The bands are set up on the back of big trucks which drive down the street in downtown Charlotte Amalie. If you don't want to join behind a band you can join the folks watching from the sidelines on the side of the road/route. J'ouvert is April 29th.
And a little background information...
Video from St. John Festival Parade (The video will give you an idea of what the parades are like; keep in mind however that the St. John festival parade is a smaller event than the St. Thomas adult's parade.)
Thank you for the great information. I'm printing it out and taking with. You mentioned some events we hadn't thought of attending that sound well worth seeing. We did see the St. John video, it's how I finally talked hubby into coming down at this time of year. We're looking forward to experiencing this slice of island life.