Photo credit: CARICOM Today


My Instagram feed during CARIFESTA was alive with colour! It was beautiful. I was thrilled to see my friends sharing images and videos showcasing various food, theatre, and artistic expressions from across the Caribbean region. That got me thinking; when did CARIFESTA come into existence? How does this grand festival benefit the Caribbean region?

The Beginning

The Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) is an exhibition of the diverse cultures of the countries and islands that are washed by the Caribbean Sea. Hailed as the inspirational exchange of creative flows, CARIFESTA gives expression to music,  dance, drama, painting, sculpture, folk art, photography, and literature. The event is staged over a period of several days with varied presentation formats that include exhibitions, displays, demonstrations, concerts, shows, recitals, discussions, pageantry, and plays within a village atmosphere.

This Festival is the offspring of several initiatives that were aimed at fostering regional integration; the celebration of Caribbean arts hosted by Puerto Rico in 1952, the 1958 British West Indian Federation and the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA) of 1965. These all heralded this multidisciplinary exposition of Caribbean cultures.

An Embodiment of Caribbean Integration

The Caribbean comprises of a wide and rich array of cultures and people, and whether Dutch, Spanish, English, or French, they are all displayed at CARIFESTA. Truly giving accurate insight into the uniqueness of our Caribbean reality and reinforcing our unity in the midst of this magnificent diversity. This festival takes place every two years and it creates the perfect environment for persons from across the region to form network and form partnerships to grow their business while fostering a deeper understanding of the similarities that exist among Caribbean people.

CARIFESTA is an embodiment of caribbean integration. people of the Region come together; co-mingle, creating one community, one people. That is integration. this festival strengthens the bonds between us while indicating to the world the best that this Region has to offer. 

CARIFESTA generates pride among Caribbean people and makes people aware of who we are and our achievements.

This year, it was hosted by Trinidad and Tobago and walking through the festival’s grand market one could actually feel the sense of warm sharing of culture and information.

Economic Boost and Opportunities for Trade

Through CARIFESTA, avenues have opened up for regional, national, and international trade, as well as to present, promote, and effectively market the artistic works of Caribbean entrepreneurs. The economic boost that CARIFESTA presents for host nations and tourism generally in the region underscores its impact on Caribbean development.

Every hosting of the festival refreshes the cultural industries of the region with new talent. There is visible cultivation of new productive channels generated for the abundance of Caribbean talent waiting to be discovered and thrust to distinction.

Encourages Intra-regional Tourism

Through shedding light on the vast the possibilities for enjoyment on each island, CARIFESTA also promotes intra-regional tourism and the travel and hospitality industries. Patrons were delighted this year, for instance, by the replicas of monumental architecture from across the region. The Cuba Houses (Cuba), the Twin Towers (Trinidad and Tobago), the Stabroek Market (Guyana), and the Chamberlain Bridge (Barbados), and the Berkeley Memorial Bell Tower (St. Kitts and Nevis), just to name a few.

They also enjoyed the Doubles from Trinidad and Tobago, Ackee and Saltfish from Jamaica, Bitterballen from Curaçao, and delicious Haitian soup! From the music to the delicacies, engagement in this slice of Caribbean paradise is encouragement to increase travel between the islands, contributing to Caribbean development.

So come, discover the Caribbean! Enjoy the amazing people and culture. We have a lot to offer the world.