Enjoy the Antigua and Barbuda Carnival on the Cheap Jen Bouchard July 18, 2016 general The 10-day Antigua and Barbuda Carnival attracts visitors from all over the world. This annual event commemorates the emancipation of slavery on the island, and it’s one of the premier cultural events in the Caribbean. From the steel band competition to beauty pageants, there are plenty of cultural activities to keep carnival goers entertained. Even better, it’s possible to experience all of this color, music, and flavor on a budget! Here are four recommendations for how to make the most of the Antigua and Barbuda Carnival without breaking the bank: Be Flexible When Booking Flights This year, the carnival takes place from July 21-31, which means you still have time to book flights to Antigua to enjoy this unforgettable experience. If you have some flexibility in your travel dates, play around a bit with arrival and departure dates to make sure that you get the best deal out there. It’s still possible to find last-minute, affordable flights from major U.S. airports to make your Antigua and Barbuda carnival dreams come true. Stay in Locally-Owned Guest Houses or B&Bs The good news for carnival goers is that hotel rates in Antigua and Barbuda tend to be cheaper in the summer/fall months (May to November) because of the frequent tropical storms that hit this area. If you can’t find the price you need at a larger hotel or resort, check out some of the smaller, independently owned lodging choices on the island. For example, guesthouses, cottages, lodges or B&Bs offer a quaint, welcoming atmosphere starting at $30/night. There are even affordable hostels on the waterfront that allow you to enjoy the same views as luxury resorts for a fraction of the price. Antigua Nice maintains a list of budget accommodations to help you plan your stay. Seek Out Smaller, Free Carnival Events In addition to the highly publicized pageants, parades, and concerts, there are a variety of free festivities throughout the 10-day period, including local concerts, food festivals, neighborhood parades, and cultural shows. In addition to checking out the official calendar of events, be sure to ask locals in the know about smaller, more informal events. One thing is for sure, you’ll be able to take in as much celebratory music as you can handle, free of charge. Enjoy the Music of Antigua and Barbuda During carnival, professional and amateur musicians take to the streets to share their talent. This means that, in addition to official music concerts and competitions, you can also enjoy plenty of free, impromptu concerts as you move through the island. Calypso, one of the oldest music forms in the Caribbean, is improvisational in nature, which makes for a lot of variety and energy in performances. Another popular form is steel drum music, which is played on hammered steel pans cut from oil drums, and features prominently into Caribbean carnival celebrations, and Antigua is home to some of the best steel drum bands in the world. Have you been to Antigua and Barbuda? What are your recommendations for saving money while having fun at carnival? Let us know in the comments section.