Message for U.S. Citizens: Carnival Season 2020

Location:  Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, and throughout Haiti

Event:  The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince informs U.S. citizens that carnival season has begun.  The official Carnival dates in Jacmel are February 15-16, and February 23-25, 2020, in Port-au-Prince.  However, many traditional festivities have already begun and will continue until the final day of Carnival.

Official Carnival celebrations in Port-au-Prince will take place in Champ-de-Mars and downtown.  This area is off-limits to Embassy personnel.  Carnival activities are to be expected throughout Port-au-Prince, to include areas such as Tabarre and Petionville.  Carnival-related inconveniences such as traffic, impromptu “Ra-Ra” bands in the street, road closures, crowds, etc. are to be expected with increasing frequency as official dates approach.

Ra-Ra Bands will be out in the streets with increased frequency on Sunday afternoons and evenings leading up to Carnival. Band members may crowd around vehicles, block them in, bang on windows, crack bull whips, twirl knives and machetes, and make a lot of noise. It can be a potentially unsettling situation; generally speaking, bands remain non-violent.  Ra-Ra bands will continue to be found in various parts of the city and countryside particularly on weekends through Easter.

Actions to take:

  • Should you get caught in a Ra-Ra band while driving:

o   Keep windows rolled up and doors locked.

o   Put the car in park until the band passes. The driver will be in the most danger if he/she attempts to drive through the crowd.

  • Avoid driving through or stopping in large crowds of people along the routes of Carnival processions. Stay to the periphery of condensed activity, as these areas are considered safer.
  • Keep a cell phone charged and with you at all times.
  • Avoid wearing flashy or expensive jewelry.
  • Avoid confrontations of any type. Quickly move away from any incident of violence or overzealous behavior that might trap you or otherwise risk injury to you. Know your best route of escape and be prepared to move in that direction.



  • U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Tabarre 41, Route de Tabarre

Emergencies: +509-2229-8000

Non-emergency inquiries:


  • Contact the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs

1-888-407-4747 toll-free from the United States and Canada

1-202-501-4444from other countries