Let me tell you about Caribbean people, we love to fete! If you have ever visited the region at any given time, you know it doesn’t take much for us to have a celebration. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has announced 2019 as ‘THE YEAR OF FESTIVALS’ in the Caribbean. The Year of Festivals aims to highlight music, art, sailing, food, rum, religious celebrations, and literary and dance festivals in the Caribbean region.
The more I explore the region in my travels, the more I love & appreciate our Caribbean culture. I recently went to the NY Times Travel show over the weekend and in true Caribbean form, I found myself at the Visit The Bahamas booth to share my love for playing mas, singing and dancing with Visit Jamaica in the Focus on the Caribbean session, sampling cocoa tea & chocolates with Pure Grenada, learning about St. Lucia’s chocolate-themed hotel, Eco-tourism in Guyana, and dreaming about being on one of Antigua’s 365 beaches. If you’re looking for fun cultural experiences when visiting the Caribbean, here are 12 Unique Caribbean festivals and events to add to your travel list.
1. Grenada – Grenada Sailing Festival Work Boat Regatta
The Grenada Sailing Festival Work Boat Regatta is one of the many Caribbean boat festivals held throughout the year. The Workboat Regatta started with working fishing boats of the community competing for fun. The event now attracts sailors on the main island Grenada, and sister islands Carriacou and Petite Martinique with boats made specifically for racing. In addition to boat racing, you can enjoy the music, food, and people of Grenada on Grand Anse Beach.
Learn more at puregrenada.com
2. Trinidad and Tobago – Carnival
Caribbean Festivals involve more than just Carnival, but Trinidad Carnival has been celebrated since the late 18th Century. Most Caribbean Carnivals throughout the region and diaspora have even modeled after TNT’s success. Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago is celebrated on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday so expect to attend in February or March.
Learn more at gotrinidadandtobago.com
3. Montserrat – St Patrick’s Festival
Named Santa María de Montserrate after the Virgin of Montserrat in the Monastery of Montserrat, the island Monserrat is also known as the “The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”. Not only does it have a resemblance to coastal Ireland, but many of its inhabitants also have Irish ancestry. The St Patrick’s Festival is a weeklong cultural celebration of Montserrat’s African and Irish heritage.
Learn more at visitmontserrat.com
4. Anguilla – Anguilla LitFest
Calling all readers, writers, and spoken word lovers Anguilla LitFest is for you! Known as a Literary “Jollification”, (Anguilla’s term for a “good time”) Anguilla LitFest celebrates the island of Anguilla’s literary heritage. The event features keynote presentations, panel discussions, workshops, and book signings with your favorite authors.
Go to ivisitanguilla.com for information
5. Barbados – SOL Rally Barbados
If you enjoy rally racing, visit Barbados for SOL Rally. SOL Rally Barbados is the Caribbean’s biggest annual motorsport event. It consists of three days of rally driving in Barbados and attracts drivers and car lovers from around the world.
Check out visitbarbados.org for more information
6. St. Lucia – St. Lucia Summer Festival
If you’re looking to attend one of the biggest Caribbean music festivals, head over to St Lucia. The St. Lucia Summer Festival is a series of five festivals held from May through October and for St Lucia Jazz Festival will be produced in collaboration with Jazz At Lincoln Center.
For more information, visit stlucia.org
7. Belize – Mango Fest
June marks peak flavor for mangos in Belize and the people of Hopkins Village hold their annual Mango Fest. Hopkins Village is home to the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna people, well known for their music, drumming, language, and food. With over 15 varieties of mangos, local chefs compete at the festival creating various dishes from locally-grown mangos.
Go to travelbelize.org for more details
8. Martinique – Bèlè Djouba Matinik Festival
I personally know Bèlè from trips to Trinidad and Tobago, but Martinique has a dance festival dedicated to traditional folk dance. Bèlè is one of the oldest Creole dance forms in the French Caribbean and it incorporates drums and a tibwa. This style of dance dates back to slavery and song lyrics touch on issues affecting society.
Learn more at martinique.org
9. Jamaica – Jamaica Food and Drink Festival
Modeled after the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, the Jamaica Food & Drink Festival is a week-long Caribbean food festival held in the capital city of Kingston. It hosts 7 events at multiple venues for over 50 chefs combining local and international cuisines.
Visit jafoodanddrink.com for more details
10. The British Virgin Islands – BVI Food Fete
BVI Food Fete highlights the culinary scene in the British Virgin Islands. It is a month-long Caribbean food festival held in November with popular events like Taste of Tortola, Jost Pork, Anegada Lobster Festival, and more.
Visit bvifoodfete.com for event dates and location
11. The Bahamas – Junkanoo
Not to be confused with Bahamas Carnival, Junkanoo in the Bahamas celebrates the heritage of the Bahamas. Traditionally Junkanoo dates back to slavery when slaves were given time off during the holidays. The celebration includes music, dance, food, and costumes.
For details, visit bahamas.com
12. St. Vincent and the Grenadines – Nine Mornings & Nights of Lights
Nine Mornings and Nine Nights of Lights are two Caribbean events celebrated during the Christmas season in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Nine Mornings is a Caribbean festival that has been celebrated for over 100 years and occurs during the nine days leading to Christmas. Vincentians awake in the early morning partaking in sea baths, dances, bike riding, and concerts. Nine Nights of Lights is a Caribbean festival coinciding with the Nine Mornings festival and is celebrated at the St. Vincent Botanical Garden. Learn more at discoversvg.org.
I hope this post sharing 12 unique Caribbean festivals and events inspires you to visit the Caribbean region for more than the beach. Make sure to pin this post for your trip planning and it share with your social community.