SXM Carnival Guide + Planning SXM Carnival 2023 + SXM Carnival 2022

Self-proclaimed as ‘The biggest and best Carnival in the North Eastern Caribbean,’ SXM Carnival is a three-week celebration of international concerts, calypso competitions, steel pan, reggae bands, colorful costumes, pageantry, cultural festivals, and more in the center of the Carnival Village. 

The cultural event ends with two days of colorful parades as Carnival troupes fill the streets of the capital, Philipsburg, jumping and dancing to various music across the Caribbean region. 

If you want to visit The Friendly Island of the Caribbean, here’s a complete guide to planning a trip for SXM Carnival, including where to stay, Carnival Troupes, and things to do during SXM Carnival.

SXM Carnival Guide + SXM Carnival 2024 + SXM Carnival 2024 Guide

About Sint Maarten Carnival Day

The island of Sint Maarten – Saint Martin is shared by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and France, and every year, it celebrates two Carnivals. The first is on the French side in February/March before Lent, and the second is on the Dutch side in April. Sint Maarten Carnival has become the island’s biggest event of the year as it showcases the culture, delicious food, music, and creativity of the people of Sint Maarten.

St. Maarten’s first celebration of carnival was held in 1969 on November 11th for St. Maarten’s Day as an initiative by the Oranje Committee to celebrate various holidays on the island. This was modeled after the popular carnival in St. Thomas, USVI.

When the French side of the island started to host its own St. Martin Day, committee members moved SXM Carnival to the end of April, a public holiday closer to the Queen’s birthday on April 30th and after St. Thomas Carnival.

This event expanded to the multi-day festival as we know it today. While Trinidad Carnival, the “The Mother of Carnivals,” is the largest Caribbean Carnival in the region, St. Maarten Carnival has the longest carnival season.

When is St Maarten Carnival 2024

St. Maarten’s Carnival season will run from April 18 until May 5, 2024, with pre-Carnival events beginning on March 16, 2024. The Carnival Grand Parade is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30, and the second-day parade is on Wednesday, May 1.

Traveling to Sint Maarten

If you’re flying to Sint Maarten, the airport code for Princess Juliana International Airport is SXM. As a major hub, several US, Latin American, European, and Caribbean airlines fly directly to Sint Maarten. Visitors from the neighboring islands of St. Barthélemy (St. Barts), Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Kitts can travel by ferry from the Dutch side or Anguilla from the French side.

Where to Stay in St Maarten

The island of St. Maarten has quickly become one of my favorites, and there are a variety of hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, and guest houses for every budget. Traveling to SXM for Carnival is great because it takes place during what is considered shoulder season in the Caribbean region, and hotel rates are 30-50% less than rates during the high winter season. The weather is also pretty mild, with some chances of rain in between.

The best areas to stay are in the capital Phillipsburg where the Carnival Village is located, and Simpson Bay which hosts a lot of nightlife. My recommendations for Simpson Bay are Simpson Bay Resort and Marina or Hilton Vacation Club Royal Palm St. Maarten.

@msjoannae #stmaarten #sxmcarnivalweekend #resortreview #travelvlog #roomtour #travel #caribbeantiktok #blacktravelblogger #blacktravel #joannaetravels #simpsonbay #tiktoktravel #bdaytrip ♬ love nwantinti (ah ah ah) – CKay

St Maarten Carnival 2024 Schedule

A unique thing about SXM Carnival is everything is centered around the Carnival Village on Pond Island. The Carnival Village is one of the first purposely built carnival venues in the Caribbean region and has 80 vendor shops to sell clothing, arts and crafts, food, and drinks. All these shops face the main stage where local and international artists perform.

The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) has released the official carnival schedule for SXM Carnival 2024. Some events featured are a Causeway Jump-Up, Opening Jump-Up, Children’s Parade, J’ouvert Morning Jump-Up, Grand Parade, and a Second Day Parade followed by Jamrade and a Closing Jump-Up. Here is the SXM Carnival 2024 schedule:

  • Saturday, March 16 – CAUSEWAY JUMP-UP
  • Friday, March 22 – “FETE TO FITNESS” AROUND TOWN JUMP UP
  • Saturday, March 23 – NAGICO SENIOR CALYPSO ELIMINATIONS
  • Friday, April 5 – SIK ENTERTAINMENT ROAD TO CARNIVAL (RTC) BASH
  • Saturday, April 6 – CARNIVAL CORNER FETE IS FETE VOL 3 BEACH EDITION
  • Sunday, April 7 – JUNIOR CARNIVAL QUEEN PAGEANT
  • Friday, April 12 – DJ KILO FLASHBACK JAM (RTC EVENT)
  • Saturday, April 13 – DA BIG BAD XP’S BACKYARD SESSION III (RTC EVENT)
  • Sunday, April 14 – JR. CARNIVAL CALYPSO & ROADMARCH COMPETITION 
  • Thursday, April 18 – OPENING CARNIVAL 2024 / OPENING JUMP-UP
  • Friday, April 19 – CARNIVAL ROADMARCH & BAND CLASH COMPETITION
  • Saturday, April 20 (5 AM) – SOAKING WET BREAKFAST FETE
  • Saturday, April 20 (8 PM) – THE VILLAGE CHILL, COOK UP & COCK UP
  • Sunday, April 21 – JUNIOR CARNIVAL PARADE / CULTURE NIGHT
  • Monday, April 22 – SENIOR CARNIVAL QUEEN PAGEANT
  • Tuesday, April 23 – SXM CARNIVAL CARIBBEAN QUEEN PAGEANT & KING & QUEEN OF THE BAND
  • Wednesday, April 24 – NAGICO SENIOR CALYPSO FINALS
  • Thursday, April 25 – SOCA RUMBLE
  • Friday, April 26 – JOUVERT JUMP-OFF INTERNATIONAL SOCA CONCERT
  • Saturday, April 27 (4 AM) – JOUVERT MORNING JUMP-UP
  • Saturday, April 27 (8 PM) – NOCHE LATINA INTERNATIONAL CONCERT
  • Sunday, April 28 – BACCHANAL FLAG FETE INTERNATIONAL MASH-UP
  • Monday, April 29 – YOUTH EXTRAVAGANZA
  • Tuesday, April 30 – GRAND CARNIVAL PARADE
  • Wednesday, May 1 – LABOR DAY PARADE
  • Thursday, May 2 – UV NEON GLOW FETE
  • Friday, May 3 – AFRO RIDDIMZ INTERNATIONAL CONCERT
  • Saturday, May 4 – II BROTHERS ENTERTAINMENT ONE LOVE REGGAE CONCERT
  • Sunday, May 5 – CLOSING CARNIVAL / BURNING OF KING MOMO
SXM Carnival Guide + SXM Carnival 2022 + SXM Carnival 2024 Guide + Guide to SCM Carnival
Outside Sint Maarten’s Carnival Village

SXM Carnival Troupes

To participate in the Grand Parade, you must be part of a Carnival Troupe or band. Most Carnival troupes have band launches 4-6 months before the carnival, and potential masqueraders can view and purchase their costumes online.

For SXM Carnival, Carnival band troupes are independent organizations and do not fall under the Carnival foundation. Most have Facebook or Instagram pages, and when their band launches, the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation shares it on their Facebook and Instagram pages. Here is a list of some bands to choose from:

Island Revelers

Tropical Carnival

Blue Etoile Production

Things to do in SXM

Outside the Carnival, there are many things to do in St. Maarten. This year I planned a group trip to St. Maarten – St. Martin for my birthday, and we did a combination of beach time, adventure tours, and carnival-centered activities and had a great time. Here are some places to visit in SXM that you can include before or after the carnival:

  • Zip lining on The Flying Dutchman – the steepest zip line in the world
  • ATV Tour around the entire island
  • Watch the takeoff and landing of planes from Maho Beach
  • Catamaran Day Sail
  • Day Trip to Pinel Island
  • Enjoy live entertainment at Nowhere Special or The Red Piano

Here are some more Carnival planning guides and reviews:

Have more questions about SXM Carnival 2024? Comment below!

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10 Comments

  1. Can you buy daily tickets at the gate? We will be in St. Maarten for a week but don’t know which day we can go? Do you know how much the tickets are? Do they accept US dollars. Thank you for the article 🙂

    1. Hi Danyel,

      Yes you can purchase tickets the day of. I’m not sure about the current price, but when we went in 2022, they were $50 each for the Night of the hitmakers concert and they accepted US dollars.

  2. Hi Joanne am coming there for carnival which resort is closet to where the carnival going to be please let me know

    1. Hi Orette, The closest resort to the carnival village is Divi Little Bay Beach Resort. If you’re driving, it isn’t too long of a drive from Simpson Bay which has a lot of restaurants and night life.

  3. Hi Joanne! Do you know what time the parade on 2 May normally is? We are visiting the Island that day only and would love the opportunity to see the parade. I appreciate your help!

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