With its warm sands and tropical beaches, the Caribbean is fun any time of the year but going to an island wide party as well can certainly spice things up. If you are headed to the islands, why not check out some of our favorite festivals throughout the Caribbean. The following list is what we believe are the most fun Caribbean festivals not to be missed.
Port of Spain in Trinidad
Feb / March
Carnival celebrations in the Caribbean are a cultural blend of French, Spanish, English, and African elements. The French and Spanish both drank heavily during their celebrations, but the latter was more prone to serenading. English controlled areas often featured a grand ball and called out the military to enforce good behavior in civilians. From Africa come the colorful costumes and masks. All of these features eventually combined to form the Carnival of modern times.
This festival starts five days prior to Ash Wednesday, which includes the streets being closed off to cars for the festival’s duration. Three days later, the drumbeats sound the beginnings of the Caribbean’s biggest party. Fifty thousand revelers take to the streets as the soca music begins to play. Early participants come dressed as all manner of demonic beings. Party participants arriving later are adorned in styles reminiscent of the infamous carnival in Rio de Janero. Feathers, beads, and skimpy clothing are the fashion du jour. Traditional stick fighting and theme parades are popular during the celebrations, as are limbo contests and outdoor parties.
Montego Bay in Jamaica
Reggae fans gather in Jamaica every summer for a large party that lasts four days. The Walter Fletcher Beach and the Aquasol Theme Park are simultaneously in charge of the Sunday beach party that opens up the festivities. The kick-off is followed by Dancehall Night. The Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex and other venues host outdoor concerts from Thursday to the following Saturday. A variety of international stars are usually on hand and the customary surprise guest performance is eagerly anticipated.
July & August
This traditional festival marks the end of a long and hopefully fruitful sugarcane season in Barbados. After a wild and lengthy parade, the two most prolific harvesters are named King and Queen of the Crop. Their crowning in the National Stadium officially announces the beginning of the island wide celebration. There is an all-night party to kick off the twenty four days of fun. Complete with floats and calypso bands, the Grand Kadooment parade marks the party’s end. Or at least, until next year.
This family friendly, eleven day event features a mock attack on the George Town harbor by pirates and a subsequent trail in which the offending parties are “banished”. Treasure hunts, music, food festivals, parades, and costume competitions are popular events during the week. After the pirates are tried, the week rounds out with a large street dance and the Cardboard Boat races.
When slaves still toiled in the sugarcane patches here, they would relish the three days off their masters would give them during Christmas. Drums were played in the city streets and participants donned masks as everyone celebrated. Slavery has since been abolished on the island and the modern costumes resemble those worn by carnival participants, but the drumbeats still sound and the parties continue.
Another feature of the modern parades are crews, groups of up to one thousand participants, who play Goomby music and dance through the streets in the early morning hours of December 26 and January 1st. Those planning a trip to the Bahamas during this period should avoid the parade route if they wish to get any sleep!
Are there any other fun Caribbean Festivals not to be missed?