By: Shana-Kay Hart

Let’s face it. Carnival, although one of the most anticipated events of the year, can be quite overwhelming and intimidating for people who have never participated before and have no idea where to even begin. From choosing a band and picking a costume to purchasing tickets and all the right accessories, it can be a lot of planning and small details for just one weekend. With that in mind, when carnival day arrives, it’s no wonder why some people might feel a little pressured to have the most perfect day. While planning the perfect carnival experience definitely requires time, effort and money, it’s also important to keep a few things in mind on that day. Whether you are planning to play mas in Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica or Miami, here are five tips to help you prepare for your first carnival!

Tip #1: Prepare for the Unexpected
This day will definitely require some flexibility,I learned that the hard way my first year after overplanning and watching said plans go down the drain when the time came.

Prepare in case it rains which is what happened to me the first time in Trinidad. My makeup wasn’t waterproof, my red feathers got wet and made my skin turn red, I almost ended up just going back to my hotel early than I remembered. Carnival is about having fun so I just took a deep exhale. Once you have good company and good vibes, it will be an amazing experience.” – Royanne DeSilva Travel Consultant @royannedesilva

Tip #2: Enjoy Yourself
This one might seem obvious. How could one NOT enjoy themselves at carnival? Simple oversights can have major impacts on your carnival experience. So how can you make sure you’re enjoying yourself?

Leave the jealousy at home, always buy [shoes] one size bigger for mas. Carnival is freedom…get off your phone and enjoy the moment.” – Vanessa James Carnival Veteran & Multimedia Entrepreneur

Tip #3: Updo Updo Updo!
What should I do with my hair? A question many women start thinking about and planning from the second costumes are released. Although it may not seem like it,this is definitely something to consider when making your carnival preparations as it is something that might make or break your experience. My first year of carnival, I made the mistake of wearing my hair down and didn’t think about the fact that I’d be dancing and sweating all day long. Before getting caught up thinking of an elaborate hairstyle, consider keeping it simple with an updo.

You won’t sweat as much, won’t have to worry about curls dropping, hair frizzing. An updo is an effortless, carefree and chic look!” – Jeneque Pinnock Digital Marketer & Carnival Lover @jenequep

Tip #4: Wear Sunscreen
For my first carnival, I made the mistake of not considering what being in the sun for 6+ hours would do to my skin. I usually don’t get sunburned, but the second time I’ve had it happen to me in my life occurred on carnival day. I woke the next morning sunburned and my skin nearly peeling from excessive sun exposure. Not only will wearing sunscreen protect your skin carnival day, but it’s something to get in the habit of wearing daily to protect your skin from UV rays. Black may not crack, but our skin still needs protection!

Tip #5: Hydration
In the midst of all the drinking you will be doing, remember to stay hydrated as you will be partying in the SUN for a good chunk of the day. You will be amongst large groups of people and it will be HOT. Really hot. I hate to say it but I’ve seen unfortunate incidents of people passing out or throwing up from not taking proper care of themselves while having fun on the road. Because of the sun, you will inevitably sweat coupled with the fact that drinking alcohol will cause you to lose fluids twice as quickly. The fix? Enjoy your liquor if you choose but don’t skip the water! Anyways, you’ll want to avoid a hangover for the next round of fetes carnival weekend promises.

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