Trinidad and Tobago
Concierge.com's insider take:
It's the biggest in the Caribbean and it goes on for weeks—if you count activity in the Mas Camps (masquerade bands), make that all year. Preparation begins in earnest sometime before Christmas, depending upon when Easter and Ash Wednesday fall, with steel drum band practices, warm-up parties, and events. The Chutney Soca Monarch Competition, a face-off between players of East Indian chutney music combined with calypso and soca, takes place early in the season and is great to see. Throughout the season you'll find 20 or so calypso tents open most nights—try The All-Stars and Spektakula. There are daily events closer to Mardi Gras, with the selection of National Pan and Junior Calypso champs and the Carnival King and Queen contests being highlights. Carnival proper kicks off on the Sunday night before Ash Wednesday with Dimanche Gras, which segues into J'Ouvert at 4 am Monday, when each parade band is smeared in different colored muds and hits the streets. The processions of bands and people in costume eventually culminates in Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.