Cold winters send many travelers to the Caribbean to rest from the snow and ice, but even when the weather is warm at home, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Caribbean. No matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find something to do on the islands throughout the year, especially when you consider the many delightful festivals to enjoy.
The best known Caribbean festival [http://caribbean-guide.info/what_to_see_and_do/events_and_festivals.jsp] is Carnival, which is sometimes spelled “Carnival”. On many islands, this event takes place just before Ash Wednesday, but the dates vary from island to island. This event is generally an island-wide party, so while some parents with young children may not consider Carnival the most appropriate festival, those interested in experiencing a genuine part of island culture will generally enjoy this event. .
Traditional carnival dates are followed throughout much of the Dutch and French Antilles: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin, but not Sint Maarten. The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominica, Montserrat and Trinidad and Tobago also share these Carnival dates.
In Sint Maarten, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, and Jamaica, Carnival falls directly during Holy Week, and those in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico continue their celebrations from the week before through Holy Week. In late April, vacationers can enjoy Carnival on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.
July is another month when vacationers can experience the festivities of a Caribbean Carnival, with St. Eustatius (also known as Statia), St. Lucia, and Antigua and Barbuda celebrating. The Granada Carnival falls in August, while the San Cristóbal Carnival is celebrated for a week starting on Christmas Eve.
Although each island has its own style of celebration, one thing you are sure to find is a distinct expression of a region’s culture. The culture of each island comes alive during these festivals, which are filled with colorful characters from island lore. Often, a king and queen are appointed for the event. All Carnival celebrations include music, and on some islands, musicians compete for competitive titles. If you’re looking for a safe way to see and hear the best the islands have to offer, Carnival is a cultural event not to be missed.
While music is a must during the Carnival celebrations, it is also something that the islanders take particular pride in. The islands often host annual festivals that feature the best of the crop in reggae, jazz, soca, and more. With so many music festivals in the region, it’s easy to find one throughout the year.
The Barbados Jazz Festival is one of the most popular jazz festivals in the Caribbean. Dubbed “Paint it Jazz,” the event typically takes place early in the year, in mid-January, which is the same month that a different kind of crowd converges on the US Virgin Islands for the St. Croix Blues and Heritage Festival. In February, travelers can enjoy Jamaican flair at the Negril Music Festival.
In May, Curaçao and Saint Lucia host jazz events. The KLM Curaçao Jazz Festival takes place at the beginning of the month, but in the middle of the month the St. Lucia International Jazz Festival opens its doors. At the end of May, those who like jazz can also stop by the Antigua Jazz Festival or visit Puerto Rico for the Heineken Jazz Festival.
In June, travelers can try something different at the St. Kitts Music Festival, but the month opens with Jamaica’s Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, and those who enjoy reggae may also want to be on the island at the end of the week. July or early August for the Reggae Sumfest. . Latin dance fans also have something to look forward to in July, when the Dominican Republic hosts the Merengue Festival.
Curaçao invites travelers to experience jazz again at the Curaçao Jazz Festival in early October, but those who wish to stop in the Dominican Republic can also enjoy the Annual Jazz Festival earlier in the month. While Jamaica kicks off in November with the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, Trinidad hosts the Pan Jazz Festival in the middle of the month.
Those who like music, especially jazz, will always find it in the Caribbean, but a music festival in these islands is a unique experience. Enjoy these events throughout the year on the islands.
Each island has its own local festivals. While many include Independence Day or the celebration of the birth of a ruler, there are some traditional festivals that differ between islands. Of course, most of the islands are home to many local festivals, but some of the most famous parties include the following:
- Reggae Sunsplash coincides with Bob Marley’s birthday party in Jamaica. These celebrations pay tribute to Bob Marley and the musical form he made popular around the world. Fans of the genre may want to plan on spending some time in Jamaica around January 6.
- Puerto Rico enjoys a Coffee Harvest Festival for its popular mountain beer. Try their local blend in mid-February.
- Pirate Week is a popular time to enjoy the Cayman Islands, especially for the young at heart. This celebration of pirates and the seafaring past takes place during the last week of October.
- Boaters can enjoy Antigua Sailing Week in late April. This popular celebration has included up to 1,500 participants, with 5,000 spectators watching some of the world’s best sailors.
- On the island of Barbados, farm workers celebrated the end of the growing season in July or early August, and this tradition has continued in the form of the Crop Over Festival, one of the most well-known Caribbean events.
No matter when you’re planning a trip to the islands, you’re sure to find a culture with a reason to celebrate. On some islands, each city has its own local festivals and events, while on others you can find commonly celebrated Caribbean pastimes. Either way, the celebrations are a fun way to top off any trip to the Caribbean.