After a successful inaugural Carnival celebration separate from Trinidad Carnival, Tobago will have its second annual October Carnival this year and I will be there. The Bago Jam: Revel in Paradise on August 31 marked the official launch of the Tobago Carnival season for 2023.
The official calendar of events has been released and includes new events like the Junior and Senior Calypso Monarch competition, Soca Monarch, and incorporating the annual Tobago Blue Festival. These events all lead up to the Opening of the Festival Grounds and end with a Parade of the Bands.
If you’re looking to attend Tobago Carnival 2023, here’s a full guide sharing everything you need to know about planning for Tobago Carnival 2023.
When is Tobago Carnival 2023?
Tobago Carnival will run from October 27th to 29th. This is separate from Trinidad and Tobago’s national carnival, held on the Carnival Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday with the larger carnival parades being in Port of Spain and San Fernando.
Private parties, or fetes from promoters and other events surrounding the sounds of calypso music, soca music, culture, and food in Trinidad and Tobago, leading to the Carnival starting in late September. To get the full experience, I suggest staying Carnival week which will be October 23-30 or even the 31 if you want to include a rest day.
Traveling to Tobago
The airport code for Tobago is (TAB). You can check the airlines that have a direct flight to Tobago from the USA, Canada, or Europe here. Alternatively, visitors can fly into Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport (POS) and travel to Tobago via flight or domestic ferry service.
*Tips from a local*
- Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely used throughout Trinidad and Tobago. American Express is also accepted, although not in as many places. It’s always best to have cash on hand.
- Tobago Carnival is held during hurricane/rainy season. Purchase travel insurance to cover potential flight delays.
- Flights are scheduled every hour via Caribbean Airlines and are about a 1/2 hour.
- The inter-island ferry between Trinidad and Tobago is about 3-4 hours.
- You can bring your car on the ferry for an additional fee.
- If you get motion sickness take Gravol, Dramamine, or get a motion sickness bracelet.
- Check the schedules for ferries as they sell out quickly. If you know someone in Trinidad or Tobago, have them buy tickets for you before going down.
- See if you can fly on standby or purchase a refundable ticket for the following week and ask for it to get changed if flights are sold out. (Get to the airport early if you’re doing this)
Getting Around in Tobago
To see all of Tobago, the best way to get around is via car. If you’re not driving, there are options to hire a private driver and taxi service is available throughout the island.
Rates can be determined by the day, hour, one-way, or round-trip route. If you’re negotiating any rates with taxi drivers, make sure to confirm via text, WhatsApp, or email.
If you’re staying in Crown Point, you can do a lot of walking as the beach, restaurants, and shops are common in this area.
Where to Stay in Tobago
The best place to stay in Tobago for Carnival is in Crown Point or Scarborough. This year, the main events take place in Tobago’s capital city, Scarborough. If you’re traveling with a large group, it may be best to stay in a villa rental similar to my weekend in Tobago with family.
Prices for a guest house or boutique hotel will range from about $200-500 for the weekend. For Tobago Carnival 2022, I stayed at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Scarborough Thursday-Monday for a little under $800. This was separate from the other hotels I stayed in during my 10 days in Trinidad & Tobago.
- Kariwak Village Holistic Haven and Hotel
- The Villas At Stonehaven
- Coco Reef Resort and Spa
- Blue Waters Inn
- Bacolet Beach Club
- Mount Irvine Bay Resort
- Shepherd’s Inn
- Castara Inn
- Comfort Inn & Suites
- Viola’s Place
Tobago Carnival 2023 Schedule
Starting Monday, October 23, the Tobago House of Assembly will host several events highlighting the music and culture of Trinidad and Tobago: The Opening of the Festival Grounds, Soca Monarch, Rox Glo, Pan Trinbago’s Rhythm, Steel & Powder, Tobago Dutty J’Ouvert, D’Masquerade (Night Mas), and the Parade of the Bands.
Here is a full list of events that will take place for Tobago Carnival 2023. I also have a post sharing where to fete for Tobago Carnival 2023.
- August 31 – Bago Jam
- October 13 – Jr Calypso Monarch
- October 14 – Sr. Calypso Monarch
- October 15 – Blue Food 2023-10-15
- October 23 – Opening of Festival Grounds
- October 25 – Soca Monarch
- October 26 – Rox Glo
- October 27 – Pan Trinbago’s Rhythm, Steel & Powder
- October 28 – Tobago Dutty Jouvert
- October 28 – D’Masquerade (Night Mas)
- October 29 – Parade of the Bands
Tobago Carnival Bands
In order to officially participate in the J’ouvert, Night Mas, and Parade of Bands, you would need to register with a band. This year, my sister and I will be playing j’ouvert and mas with Fog Angels which will have local and international DJs playing the exhilarating sounds of soca. Costume prices range from $250-1000 USD for male and female frontline, midline, and curvy options depending on the band you play with.
Here are some other bands to register with:
Tobago J’ouvert Bands
Tobago Night Mas Bands
Tobago Carnival Mas Bands
For a complete list of bands and how to register or contact the section leaders, visit the official Tobago Carnival website.
Here are video recaps of my experience for J’ouvert and the Parade of Bands last year.
@msjoannae #jouvert #tobagojouvert #tobagocarnival #minivlog #tobagovlog #joannaetravels #traveltiktok #tiktoktravel #trinitok #fogangelscarnivaltobago #fogangelsjouvertandmas #fogangles #caribbeantiktok #tobagocarnival2022 #suitesoca ♬ Masters of Mas – iTron & Blaxx
@msjoannae #tobagocarnival #traveltiktok #tiktoktravel #trinitiktok #caribbeantiktok #tobagocarnival2022 #tobagotiktok #carnivalsweetliketobago #joannaetravels #paradeofthebands #jademonkeymas ♬ To Be Gonian – Shurwayne Winchester
Things to do in Tobago
When it comes to travel, I love a mix of participating in activities and resting. In addition to attending fetes and events, I highly encourage exploring Trinidad and Tobago as the dual-island nation has beautiful white-sand beaches, over 50 dive sites to view its coral reefs and is an overall great destination for Caribbean history, nature, eco-adventures, and more.
Below are some things to do in Trinidad and Tobago that you can include in your activities before or after the Tobago Carnival festivities.
- Tobago Museum
- Scarborough Botanical Garden
- Pirate’s Bay
- Lover’s Bay
- Buccoo Reef
- Nylon Pool
- Castara Falls
- Tobago Cocoa Estate
- Little Tobago Island
- Main Ridge Forest Reserve
- Flagstaff Hill
- Fort King George
- Argyle Waterfall
- Pigeon Point Beach
- Englishman’s Bay
- Store Bay
- National Museum and Art Gallery (Trinidad)
- Angostura Rum Distillery Tour (Trinidad)
- The Trinidad & Tobago Carnival Museum (Trinidad)
- Gasparee Caves
- Down ‘D Islands
- Maracas Bay (Trinidad)
- L’eau Michel Mud Volcano (Trinidad)
- Las Cuevas Beach (Trinidad)
- La Brea Pitch Lake (Trinidad)
I hope this guide to attending Tobago Carnival 2023 was helpful with your planning. It is a great alternative to Trinidad Carnival as you get a similar experience for a fraction of the cost.
If you want to know about my experience from last year, read my full Tobago Carnival 2022 review. For tips on planning the “greatest show on earth” aka Trinidad Carnival, read my guide to planning Trinidad Carnival 2024.