Sackville Travel: Carnivals
The Caribbean is filled with festivals all year around; from mouth-watering food to soulful music, from soca to calypso, each island has its own unique mix of festivals for you to enjoy. Whether you want to immerse yourself in the dazzling colours of carnival or be gripped by a sailing regatta, a host of events await you.
Spanning ten summer days between July and August, Antigua Carnival, fills the streets of St. John’s with music, dancing and street food. Considered the sailing capital of the Caribbean, Antigua’s yachting calendar runs from December through April, and culminates with The Antigua Sailing Week. There are an array of other events that take place including sport fishing tournaments, the kite festival, as well as mango and seafood festivals.
Considered the premier cultural event in Barbados, the Crop Over Festival dates back to the 1780’s when Barbados was the world’s largest producer of sugar celebrating the end of a successful harvest.
The six-week festival (July-August) begins with the Opening Gala and Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes and the crowning of the King and Queen of the Festival – the most productive male and female cane cutters of the season.
Enjoy the calypso and soca music and the live entertainment as you browse through the stalls of Bridgetown Market.
Calypso is one of the main features of the Crop Over festival, watch as calypsonians compete for prizes.
The finale of the festival is the Grand Kadooment where Masquerade Bands make their way to Spring Garden highway with revellers dressed in sequin costumes decorated with colourful feathers, jewels and bright accents; dancing behind music trucks and moving bars.
Other festivals include Holetown Festival, Barbados Wine & Rum Festival, Barbados Jazz Festival, Gospel Fest, Holders Season, Barbados Music Awards and National Independence Festival of Creative Arts.
Carriacou Carnival takes place in February street dances, soca, fancy mas bands, calypso, the Jab Jab and Shakespeare Mas a unique tradition where colourfully dressed masqueraders challenge each other with their best renditions of Shakespeare’s most noted lines. For foodies, Flavours of Grenada, the four-day celebration of local gourmet cuisine happens in April. Followed by Grenada Chocolate Festival in May, where visitors can indulge in pure, delicious Grenadian organic chocolate.
Grenada Music Festival in June is an epic three nights of extraordinary musicians, spectacular performances and delicious local cuisine. Grenada Carnival ‘Spicemas’ in August features calypsonians, steel pan orchestras, beauty contestants, ‘fancy mas’ bands and parades. Carriacou Parang Festival in December is a truly unique event rich with traditional culture including Big Drum, Quadrille Dancing and Shakespeare Mas.
Saint Lucia sets one week in January each year to celebrate the achievements of the island’s two noble laureates – Sir Arthur Lewis who won the Nobel Prize in Economics (1979) and Sir Derek Walcott who won the Nobel Prize in Literature (1992) – which includes panel discussions, workshops and exhibitions. A celebration of Saint Lucian, Caribbean and international jazz music happens in May. The Saint Lucia Jazz Festival culminates in a large open-air concert at the historic Pigeon Island National Landmark on Mothers’ Day.
Saint Lucia Carnival during June and July showcases Power and Groovy Monarch, Senior and Junior Panoramas (Steel Pan Competitions), and the Inter-Commercial House Calypso competition, dozens of community events, as well as a continuous calendar of parties and fetes. The season culminates in an exciting two-day street parade of live bands and DJ music, stunning Carnival costumes and dancing. Creole Heritage Month in October is a celebration of French Creole Heritage. Started in 1981, when Saint Lucia celebrated Creole Day for the first time, it has extended into a month of music, dance, cuisine, art and street parties. The Festival culminates on the weekend of October 27 with the celebration of International Creole Day (Jounen Kweyol) in various communities throughout the island. Other festivals include: Roots & Soul Festival, Mercury Fest, La Rose Flower Festival, Dive Fest, Food & Rum Festival, La Marguerite Flower Festival, Fishermen’s Feast (Fête Pêche), National Day – Festival of Lights & Renewal
The annual St. Kitts Music Festival in June. The Nevis Mango & Food Festival in July is a weekend of culinary enjoyment celebrating the mango and culinary excellence.
In July St. Kitts also hosts, Nevis Culturama. Culturama is a week-long event filled with street fairs, beauty pageants, jump-ups, and live music to celebrate the emancipation of slaves on St. Kitts and Nevis in the 1830s. Latin Fiesta is a more recent addition to the annual festival calendar and is growing in popularity. Held over the last weekend in October, the festival showcases Latin culture through film, music, and dancing.
St Kitts Carnival is held from the middle of December until early January. Lively events happen throughout the month, a highlight of the festival is “J’ouvert morning,” where steel and brass bands parade through the streets with revellers encouraged to dance along. The music goes well into the early hours of the morning.
Trinidad & Tobago
Tobago Carnival explodes onto the street of the islands’ capital city, Port of Spain. The annual event, which takes place on Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, is an opportunity for revellers and musicians to take to the streets in wonderful costumes for a joyous festival showcasing the colours and flavours of the Caribbean.
Tobago Jazz Experience, the jazz festival of Tobago, is an opportunity to listen as artists play jazz in the unique style of the Caribbean Islands, Trinidad and Tobago.
The 2-week Heritage Festival is a display of unique cultural traditions of Tobago. The Festival runs from mid-July to the beginning of August and includes Heel an’ Toe, Bele dancing, the telling of folklore and superstitions and a Heritage Queen competition.
Other festivals include: Hosay, Divali, Holi and Santa Rosa Festival.
Every February in Jamaica, Negril comes alive for a 5-day music festival filled with food, music and Junkanoo dancers in honour of Bob Marley. Carnival or Bacchanal fills the streets of the city in April with bands decked in spectacular costumes. Internationally acclaimed reggae, calypso and soca artists take centre stage in Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. Dance along as you watch the jamboree go by at the Road March, the finale of Bacchanal.
Ocho Rios Jazz Festival takes place in June on the north of the island. The international festival brings together top artists from Jamaica and the Caribbean to celebrate jazz. Dream Weekend is a five-day experience of non-stop partying along the breath taking 7-mile beach in Negril during the first week of August.
In October, Miami Broward One Carnival, kicks off with the Junior Carnival on the Saturday before Carnival Sunday, followed by the Steel band Panorama competition on Friday of Columbus Day weekend. The official J’Ouvert is held on Saturday morning of Columbus Day weekend and the carnival celebrations peak with the Kings, Queens and Individuals Show and Competition and the parade and concert on Carnival Sunday. Visitors can enjoy plenty of Caribbean food, drinks, arts and craft market stalls and of course the vibrant carnival parade!
Book Holidays during Festivals
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