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West Indian American Day Carnival in NYC: route, time, and more

Everything you need to know about this year’s J’Ouvert festival and West Indian American Day Carnival

Women in colorful costumes with feathered headdresses walk down a street during a large neighborhood parade.
Revelers at the 2018 West Indian American Day Carnival in Brooklyn.
Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images

New York City’s annual West Indian American Day Carnival, held on Labor Day, will head to Crown Heights in Brooklyn once again for a day of festivities that celebrates the history, culture, music, food, and people from myriad Caribbean countries. Each year, the parade attracts more than a million people, making it one of the, if not the, largest Caribbean celebrations in the country.

Expect the route to be packed with revelers (say goodbye to your personal space), including many people in gloriously colorful costumes. As the various floats go by, enjoy sounds of reggae, soca, calypso, and dancehall and the unique dance styles that go along with them. Vendors will also be selling clothing, food, and other goods that are representative of the various countries involved.

Here’s what else you need to know about the event.

Where and when is the West Indian Day Parade?

The parade happens along Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, with the route stretching from Schenectady Avenue to Grand Army Plaza, then down Flatbush Avenue. It happens on Monday, September 2, beginning at 11 a.m. There will be 13 different entry points along the parade route, and attendees will be screened by security guards.

What streets will be closed for the West Indian Day Parade?

Lots! Much of the area between Grand Army Plaza and Crown Heights will be blocked off for the festivities, beginning the night before. Here’s the list of closures straight from the NYPD and DOT:

  • Grand Army Plaza (Entire Circle)
  • Buffalo Avenue between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
  • Rochester Avenue between East New York Avenue and Sterling Place
  • Ralph Avenue between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
  • East New York Avenue between Howard Avenue and Utica Avenue
  • Eastern Parkway between Howard Avenue and Grand Army Plaza
  • Washington Avenue between Sterling Place and Lincoln Road
  • Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Caton Avenue
  • Ocean Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Parkside Avenue
  • Butler Place between Grand Army Plaza and Sterling Place
  • St. John’s Place between Underhill Avenue and Grand Army Plaza
  • Rockaway Parkway between East New York Avenue and Rutland Road
  • Parkside Avenue between Park Circle and Flatbush Avenue
  • Bedford Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Empire Boulevard
  • Empire Boulevard between Flatbush Avenue and Nostrand Avenue
  • Nostrand Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Linden Boulevard
  • Lincoln Place between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
Courtesy of the NYPD

What about events leading up to the parade?

J’Ouvert, the day-break festival that precedes the event, will begin at 6 a.m. The festival is a joyous celebration of Caribbean culture, with party-goers throwing paint and baby powder on each other, and DJs keeping the mood going.

According to the NYPD, “The J’Ouvert route will proceed south on Flatbush Avenue, east on Empire Boulevard, and turn south on Nostrand Avenue to the finish area at Rutland Road.” Security measures that will be in place this year include

These streets will be closed Monday from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.:

  • Grand Army Plaza (Entire Circle)
  • Buffalo Avenue between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
  • Rochester Avenue between East New York Avenue and Sterling Place
  • Ralph Avenue between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
  • East New York Avenue between Howard Avenue and Utica Avenue
  • Eastern Parkway between Howard Avenue and Grand Army Plaza
  • Washington Avenue between Sterling Place and Lincoln Road
  • Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Caton Avenue
  • Ocean Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Parkside Avenue
  • Butler Place between Grand Army Plaza and Sterling Place
  • St. John’s Place between Underhill Avenue and Grand Army Plaza
  • Rockaway Parkway between East New York Avenue and Rutland Road
  • Parkside Avenue between Park Circle and Flatbush Avenue
  • Bedford Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Empire Boulevard
  • Empire Boulevard between Flatbush Avenue and Nostrand Avenue
  • Nostrand Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Linden Boulevard
  • Lincoln Place between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue

There’s also the West Indian American Day Junior Carnival, which happens on Saturday, August 31. The event begins in Crown Heights, on Kingston Avenue and St. John’s Place, and will travel down Franklin Avenue and President Street before ending at the Brooklyn Museum. Here are those street closures, in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.:

  • St. John’s Place between Kingston Avenue and Franklin Avenue
  • Franklin Avenue between St. John’s Place and President Street
  • President Street between Franklin Avenue and Washington Avenue
  • Washington Avenue between Sterling Place and Empire Boulevard
  • Classon Avenue between President Street and Eastern Parkway

The West Indian American Day Carnival Association also has more events happening in the days leading up to the parade; check the org’s Facebook page for more details.

How to get to the West Indian Day Parade

The MTA’s subways and buses will be operating on a Sunday schedule, and many train stations in Brooklyn may be affected by the parade; the 2, 3, and 4 trains are going to be your best bet, since they stop at various points close to Eastern Parkway.

There are, however, some service changes in effect on Monday. According to the MTA, the 4 train will be making all local stops in Brooklyn. The Eastern Parkway-Brooklyn Museum stop will be closed, and trains will bypass it, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the day of the parade. And “certain staircases will be designated entrance/exit only” at the Crown Heights-Utica Avenue stop.

There are also various buses that stop along the route, including the B12, B14, B17, B41, B43, B44, B44 SBS, B45, B46, B46 SBS, B48, B49, B67 and B69; check the MTA’s website for more information on those routes. Be warned, though: those are likely to be slow, given all the people who will be out and about for the event.