After playing mas for Trinidad Carnival earlier this year, I had my mind set to only play mas for Tobago Carnival. Still, between April and July, I chose to attend Miami Carnival 2023, playing in DJ Jel’s section for Pleasures Mas – The Anasa Mas Experience.
Suppose Miami Carnival is on your list and you’re looking for a band to play with. In that case, I’m sharing my full review of Miami Carnival 2023 with the Anasa Mas Experience, things to do in Miami outside the Carnival, and important things to know for Miami Carnival 2024.
About Miami Carnival
Celebrating its 39th year in 2023, Miami Carnival, also known as Miami Broward One Carnival (MBOC), is an annual event held in South Florida to celebrate Caribbean culture in the United States. It consists of main events like the Junior Carnival Competition, Steelband “Panorama” Competition J’ouvert Mas, and the culmination of the carnival is the Mas Band Parade and Concert.
About The Anasa Mas Experience
The Anasa Mas Experience is a section in Soca artist Shal Marshall’s Carnival Mas band Pleasures Mas and marketed by International Soca DJ Jel, whose primary focus is to take soca music global. The mission of the Anasa Mas Experience is to give first-time and repeat masqueraders the best possible mas experience for Miami Carnival.
In addition to perks provided in Pleasures Mas’ all-inclusive package, masqueraders in the Lava Section have additional perks and an extra swag bag for being part of the Anasa Mas Experience.
Band Launch and Registration
Pleasures Mas launched their theme, “Erupt,” at the end of April. Like last year, it was VERY hard for me to pick a band, but I chose to play with Pleasures Mas at the end of July after attending Jel’s Jus’So boat ride in NYC. Jel had a model wearing a costume for Anasa Mas’ Lava section, and after seeing that the costume was both functional and cute, I was sold.
I registered for the frontline option that week and paid everything in full. Pleasures Mas also had the option to put down a deposit and pay the balance before costume pickup. A bonus for playing with Pleasures Mas is the complementary j’ouvert package with Dutty Pleasures. I had friends who wanted to participate in the carnival events but not play mas, so it was a no-brainer for them to play with Dutty Pleasures J’ouvert.
Costume Pick Up
A few days before flying out, I received an email from Pleasures Mas about costume distribution. The designated days for Anasa Mas’ Lava section were Thursday, October 5, and Friday, October 6, from 6-10 PM in Fort Lauderdale. We received a notice early Thursday afternoon that distribution for female masqueraders was pushed to Friday. This was also mentioned on their Instagram page, and I appreciated the band’s transparency and timely notice since I was staying over 40 minutes away.
For the j’ouvert and mas collection, we signed in, signed a release form, and received our packages in less than 10 minutes. Before leaving, I ensured each costume piece was included in my bag. There were some issues with my costume’s fit, but with the help of the Anasa Mas team and my creativity, everything worked out well for the Carnival parade on Sunday.
You can check out the items in my bags in the video below.
@msjoannae Lets see what’s in my bag for Miami Carnival. #pleasuresmas #miamicarnival2023 #anasamasexperience #anasamas #miami #carnivaltiktok #whatsinmybag ♬ Like Yuh Self – Patrice Roberts & Machel Montano
J’ouvert and Mas were in separate locations for Miami Carnival 2023. Included in our mas bags were instructions on getting to Central Broward Park, the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo, and the respective car parks that offered free shuttle service to these locations.
J’ouvert with Dutty Pleasures
On Saturday morning, we drove to a car park and took the shuttle to Central Broward Park. Unlike carnivals in the Caribbean, J’ouvert for Miami Carnival is from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. Dutty Pleasures was truck number 1, so we left the general meetup area and went straight inside to start the revelry.
Throughout the morning, I filled my drink cup with rum and coke and started following the truck as we jumped, wined, and threw paint at each other. At several points in the morning, masqueraders were given light bites such as doubles, mini sandwiches, and Pleasures pops.
Unlike last year, it was extremely hot, and the sun was beating down on us HARD. Luckily, several areas within the park offered shade and seating. The only drawback I had was the drinks truck running out of ice and water towards the end of the route, but my brother-in-law grabbed a few bottles for our group.
At the end of the route, masqueraders received corn soup, and we took the shuttle back to our condo for a nap before our roti run later that afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed j’ouvert with Dutty Pleasures and would play with them again.
Getting Ready for The Road
To compliment my costume, I wore these boots. After breakfast, I put on my costume with the help of my crew, finished my makeup, packed my fanny pack with road essentials, took some photos, and arrived at the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds around 2 PM.
Parade of the Bands
On Carnival Sunday, it was very easy to find the truck, and I went straight to the drinks truck to fill my cup with ice to finish my rum. While local and international DJs played soca music from throughout the Caribbean region, I happily jumped and wined myself away throughout the afternoon into the evening. A bonus for playing in the Lava Section was the extra snacks and shots of liquor throughout the day.
We gathered ourselves as we got closer to the judging point, and the Lava Section crossed to Esron Y. Spielberg’s – Headways. After crossing, I took a little break before walking to the food booth. I picked up a fish meal before meeting up with my crew at the concert, where we saw live performances by Ricardo Drue, Bunji Garlin, Fay-ann Lyons, Teddyson John, Asa Banton, and more Soca artists from the Caribbean region.
Food and Drinks
In addition to our costumes and shirts for j’ouvert and mas, we received our wristbands, breakfast and lunch food chits, and drink cups. There was no lack of water or ice for the parade of bands on Carnival Day, and I remembered to stay hydrated because the SUN WAS SUNNING.
Music & Vibes
One of the things that I love about Miami Carnival is hearing a mix of Soca throughout the carnival season. The DJs that stood out to me were LIPS I’NTL, DJ Buzz B, Unique Soundz, DJ Dorenzo, and DJ Jel. Erphaan Alves also performed before we crossed the stage.
My overall experience playing in the Lava Section for the Anasa Mas Experience and Pleasures Mas was positive. As a solo masquerader, my biggest concern is safety, and I felt completely safe the whole day. Everyone was ready to party, and the energy kept me going when I started to get tired. Playing with Pleasures Mas gave me the vibes I wanted for Trinidad Carnival earlier this year. I was tired at the end of the day but in a good way. Hopefully, my friends will be able to join me next time.
@msjoannae My heart is full. #miamicarnival2023 #miamicarnival #pleasuresmasband #pleasuresmas #carnivaltiktok #miami ♬ original sound – Relatable Work Memes
Miami Carnival 2023 Cost
The total cost for Miami Carnival and any Carnival varies and depends on your costume, how many fetes you attend, and where you are flying from. Below is a cost breakdown of my spending during the week I stayed in Miami for Miami Carnival 2023, including activities outside the carnival. This can help when creating a budget for Miami Carnival 2024.
Flight from NYC to Miami: I paid $297 for a roundtrip flight from JFK to MIA in July.
Condo: For our group, we stayed in a 3 BR, 4 Bathroom apartment in Doral from Wednesday to Tuesday and paid $400 each.
Fetes: Outside of j’ouvert, the Carnival parade, and the concert, we attended Elevate Miami on Friday and Bacchanal Beach on Monday, totaling $117.
Car Rental: We rented a Dodge Durango from Friday to Tuesday and paid $755, including tolls.
Mas and J’ouvert: The total cost for the Lava Section and j’ouvert package was $674.10 (I received a 10% discount using a promo code)
Other: I spent about $250 on food, drinks, gas, extra essentials for the road, parking, and souvenirs.
Things to Know for Miami Carnival 2024
If you want to attend Miami Carnival 2024, start planning from 6-9 months ahead, as bands usually launch around April/May. Here are some important things to know about Miami Carnival 2024, including the dates, things to do in Miami, Florida, and the best places to stay.
When is Miami Carnival 2024?
Miami is usually held on Columbus Day Weekend or the second weekend in October, with the Junior Carnival being the week before at the Central Broward Regional Park. Below are key dates to remember for Miami Carnival 2024.
Miami Carnival 2024 Official Events Schedule
Jr. Carnival – Saturday, October 5th
Panorama – Friday, October 11th
J’ouvert – Saturday, October 12th
Carnival Parade and Concert – Sunday, October 13th
Where to Stay in Miami
On previous trips to Miami, I’ve stayed at the Hilton Cabana in Miami Beach, The Catalina in South Beach, and most recently, an apartment in Doral close to the highway and Fairgrounds. If you want to stay closer to the fetes, I suggest staying in Doral, Brickell, or Wynwood.
Below are some hotel suggestions. You can also click the interactive map, enter your travel dates, and filter price ranges to find the best lodging options that match your budget.
- EB Miami
- East Miami
- Esme Hotel
- Lowes Miami
- Pullman Miami Airport
Things to Do in Miami, Florida
Outside the Carnival, we drove to South Beach to visit the main strip and beaches, ate brunch at Bistro Cafe and Orange Blossom, visited some art galleries, and went for a roti run at Joy’s Roti Delight. Some fun things to do in Miami include visiting the Wynwood Walls and the Arts District, a food tour of Little Havana, or taking a sunset cruise.