Spring is right around the corner. Soon you will be heading to the Caribbean for your annual vacation. I guess you’re looking forward to enjoying the Caribbean sun, drink piña colada and coconut water at the beach or by the poolside of a beautiful resort. And at the end of the trip you will go on a tour, or for walk and buy a couple souvenirs.
Well, if that sounds like your typical Caribbean vacation, you have not been getting your money’s worth of the Caribbean experience. The Caribbean is where Indian, African, European and Asian cultures clash, resulting in an environment that is purely unique. The Caribbean experience comprises the physical environment, the people, the art, the food and definitely the music. And there’s no better way to have a taste of that experience than during a Caribbean festival.
Therefore, here’s a list of festivals that will further enrich your next vacation experience in the Caribbean. Schedule your next vacation to coincide with a festival. Whether it’s one of the four events above, or a different one, be sure that your next vacation experience in the Caribbean is as satisfying as it can be.
1. St. Lucia Jazz & Art Festival
Started in 1992, the St. Lucia Jazz/Art Festival is an internationally known, talent-packed line-up of Caribbean musicians that gives the event its distinctive vibe. Cuban music one night gives way to a brass-blowing Dominican zouk the next eve, followed by bass-thumping Jamaican reggae.
Other genres include calypso, soca, steel pan, American R&B, Caribbean zouk, European jazz,… The event also brings together internationally known performers such as John Legend, Kassav, Mark Anthony, Shaggy,…
The event usually takes place between late April and early May.
2. Kanaval, Haiti
Haiti’s “Kanaval” is the country’s largest annual celebration. It’s marked by colorful parades, lively music, traditional art and dances throughout the island. The event is an electrifying expression of color and community. Celebrations are held over several weeks, starting at the end of January, leading up to “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras.
However, the main event, the “Defile”, is held in Port-au-Prince sometime in middle of February. Defile is a 3day long festival, packed with great activities, music and food. The Port-au-Prince’s annual carnival is one of the largest Mardi Gras carnivals in the Caribbean and North America.
3. Reggae Sumfest, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Held during the 2nd week of July annually, the Reggae Sumfest festival is one of the most anticipated staple on the Jamaican entertainment calendar. It attracts millions from around the world each year, from as far away as Australia, Europe, the USA and the African continent that come to enjoy reggae music in the land of its birth along with other genres including hip hop, pop, rhythm & blues, jazz, and dancehall in the event dubbed “The Greatest Reggae Show on Earth”.
The festival usually kicks off on a Sunday with a Beach party held at the Aquasol Theme Park. Then an “All White Party” held on Monday or Tuesday at Pier 1 On the Waterfront follow by three nights packed with electrifying live performances.
4. Crop Over, Barbados
Originated in the late-18th century, Cropover is where older local cultural characters mix with modern additions to give the festival a character unlike any other in the Caribbean. Celebrations are not only vibrantly colorful and full of music, but also reveal all aspects of Barbadian culture. The event reveals a mixture of African surviving heritage and Western modern culture through exhibitions of art, craft, music, and dance.
Barbados’ Crop Over Festival activities and events are many and varied with plenty of things to do for everyone’s taste. For the event’s duration, which spans from June to the first Monday of August (The Grand Kadooment), one gets to enjoy great calypso contests, soca concerts, heritage bus tours, arts exhibitions, carnival-like parades and, yeah, awesome Caribbean food.