Our dear friend Google describes a Festival as a day or period of celebration, typically for religious reasons. In the Caribbean, we take that definition, infuse it with our culture and make it our own. From the world’s greatest street party in Trinidad to the the ‘wuk up’ Barbados offers, here’s our list of the top 10 Caribbean Festivals you most definitely cannot…and I mean definitely definitely cannot miss.
10. Jamaica’s Rebel Salute
What do you get when you add one of the richest traditions of reggae music and a captivated audience? A celebration of Reggae. For almost 30 years, Tony Rebel and his team have sought to deliver the largest showcase of roots reggae and culturally themed dancehall. Year after year, patrons prepare themselves for the two-night event which while taxing on the body, promises to bring peace of mind and contentment of spirit. At this point we can’t tell if that is thanks to the culturally appealing music or the ganja exempt status the event boasts, but whatever it is, the January event remains a top Caribbean Festival you don’t want to miss.
9. Cayman’s Pirate Week
Are you ready kids? Aye aye Captain! On the lighter side of legend, the Cayman islands celebrates its plundering history with a ‘festival of spectacle and pageantry during its annual Pirates Week in November’. This family friendly event boasts parades, fireworks displays, street dances, costume contests and much more, stretching across all three islands. What are ye waiting for matey? Saddle up or prepare to walk the plank for this Caribbean must see, must experience festival!
8. Antigua Sailing Week
What’s fancier than but just as wet as a pirate invasion? A regatta of course. Yachts from the world over journey to the small Caribbean island of Antigua each year to participate in one of the world’s most prestigious yacht racing events.
For a week, crews take on the deep blue Caribbean Sea in races around the island and nearby Guadeloupe. Whoever said work couldn’t be fun?!
Now when we said Caribbean Festivals, we didn’t say those festivals have to be in the Caribbean (although the best ones are) and by that logic, we would be remiss to mention Toronto’s Caribana! Taking place in the summer months, this festival is one of the most anticipated festivals worldwide. Did we mention its perfect for every category of reveller? From the newbie to the most experienced, Caribana is known for bringing the Caribbean Diaspora together with its signature Parade set for August 1 of this year!
6. Guyana Carnival
What are you doing between May 20 and 27th 2020? We have a suggestion, Guyana Carnival 2020!
Launching the 2020 staging last December, Chairman of the Guyana Carnival Committee, Bobby Viera, said he anticipates ‘working hard to bring patrons an exciting experience’ in 2020.
Under the theme ‘Carnivoil’, thanks to the expected boom in oil in 2020, this year promises to provide visitors a non-stop party experience that involves a week of activities that promote the Guyanese culture through music and food…and we can’t wait.
5. Bahamas’ Junkanoo
Like it’s cousin festival Carnival, Bahamas’ Junkanoo festival, normally slated for the after Christmas period, has revellers dressed in the most garish costumes possible, with names such as: “The Valley Boys,” “Saxons,” “Roots,” and “One Family” celebrating the Bahamian culture.
From the hours of 1:00am to 9:00am on Boxing day, participants take to the streets with the sounds of Goombay music to vie for their chance to be named the Best Junkanoo Group.
Tourists are also encouraged to join in the celebrations (as long as you follow the National Junkanoo Association’s rules).
4. St Lucia’s Soleil
A few years ago, St Lucia sought to put its hat in the ring of culturally charged tourism- enhancing ventures and introduced a major and dare we say, ambitious initiative….a Summer of Festivals. Having become one of the biggest summer festivals in the Caribbean, Soleil is aimed at providing tourists with a glimpse into St Lucian culture while bringing lasting economic, social and cultural benefits to the country.
3. Barbados Crop Over
Are you up to 3 months of rum and fun? Do you like to dance from sundown to sun up? Are you ready for a Commotion? Do you Live To Party? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to visit Barbados for Cropover 2020. What starts out as celebration of the harvesting of the sugar crop becomes a crowning of Crop Over King and Queen then an almost never ending celebration of all that is Bajan.
Revellers from all around the world get a chance to escape and immerse themselves in a the Bajan culture culminating in a grand Kadooment Day grand carnival parade where they make their way through the streets of Barbados in feathers, sequins and a kaleidoscope of colour. Who knows, when you visit you may even catch a glimpse of the Fenty queen herself.
2. Jamaica’s Reggae Sumfest
What do you get when you add Jamaican food, Jamaican vibes and a week-long Jamaican cultural celebration? That’s right, you get Reggae Sumfest! Imagine one of the best international music festivals but with an irie twist…the Caribbean’s own Coachella. Formed after Reggae Sunsplash came to an end in 1991, the now 28 year old Summer Reggae Festival offers 6 nights of activities from an All White Blitz Party to a Sound System Explosion and even a Beach Party! Last year’s acts featured the likes of Chronixx, Taurus Riley, Spice and even Grammy Winner, Koffee. We can only wait with baited breath for what Joe Bogdanovich has in store for us this year and boy does he have a plan.
1. Trinidad and Tobago Carnival
Each Caribbean country has some cultural celebration that makes them…stand apart. And Trinidad is no different. Carnival is here again! Officially. On Thursday, February 13, Her Excellency, Paula-Mae Weekes, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago officially declared the beginning and ending days and times for Carnival 2020.
According to her release (and all the rave reviews of the season thus far), Carnival season kicked off on Sunday, February 9. Meanwhile, the pièce de résistance….the icing on top of the cake, the soca driven street parades of Carnival Monday and Tuesday, will be February 24th and 25th respectively. Come for the revelry, stay for the sites and culture…either way, you don’t want to miss it.