There’s no better way to embrace the Caribbean vibe than to take part in one of the islands’ many fun and flamboyant festivals. Caribbean island festivals are a great way for travellers to meet local residents, engage with their cultural traditions and seize the colourful and crazy spirit of the area!
1. Trinidad Carnival
Port of Spain, Trinidad
Steel bands, calypso dancing, street parties, flashy floats and colourful costumes make Trinidad’s annual festival one of the best and most anticipated events on the Caribbean calendar.
Trinidad Festival by Carnival Network
It takes months to prepare the carnival, with parties playing soca music that last all night, gatherings of locals to make the floats and costumes, and steel drum band practice. The carnival lasts for two days (Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday) with a variety of themed parades and concerts. At the Dirty Mas parade, for instance, everyone smears mud all over their face and body before getting down to some seriously dirty dancing.
2. Ocho Rios Jazz Festival
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
June is jazz month in Jamaica, with over 30 events held around the island. If you’re looking for the best jazz gathering then look no further than the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival on the north side of the island. This world-renowned festival lasts for eight days and is held in a vibrant setting that makes the perfect destination for a Jamaican jazz getaway.
Jazz in Jamaica by DavidQuick
The event consists of a number of free jazz concerts and live performances from some of the most superb musicians in Jamaican jazz, as well as the best international artists. There’s even a Jazz Hall of Fame that recognises those Jamaican and Caribbean musicians who have distinguished themselves internationally.
3. Crop Over Festival
Crop Over is Barbados’s biggest and most colourful festival and runs from the beginning of June until the first Monday in August. The whole island gets taken over by the party spirit, and the man and woman who harvest the most crops throughout the year are crowned ‘King and Queen of the Crop’.
Crop Over Festival by Meg Stewart
Revellers can expect a mix of live music, traditional dancing, carnivals and markets. Visitors to the island are welcome to join in too. And as the events take place over three months, you can combine it with a holiday at an all-inclusive resort such as Couples Barbados.
The whole festival culminates with a costume parade called Kadamoot Day where Bajan superstar singer Rihanna has been spotted among the revellers!
4. Pirates Week
Ahoy! The pirates take over the Cayman Islands for one fun-filled week every November. This quirky festival has grown so popular over the years with people of all ages joining in the jolly fun. Steel drum competitions, buried treasure hunts and trips sailing high on the Caribbean seas all take place during the week.
Pirates Week by The McGee
Dressing up as a pirate is encouraged, so make sure you get your buccaneer boots and bandanas on and learn how to pull off the part and eye-patch look. Once you know how to dress like a pirate you can fully embrace the pirate parades and plunder the food fests that also take place throughout the week. On the last Saturday, there’s a street dance finale and the doomed Cardboard Boat Race.
Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas
Bahamians don’t stop after the Christmas feast – they carry on into the early hours of the next day, clad in garish costumes and taking to the streets for the Junkanoo parade. Then, on the first date of the New Year, they do it all over again.
Junkanoo by pixelcatcher
Thousands of people join in this annual event, arriving in ‘crews’ and dancing in the street to the sound of goombay music. Preparation is taken very seriously, with a cash prize for the best crew, and it takes months to sort out costumes, floats and dance routines. For those who tire of all the revelry, there are bench stands that provide brilliant views of the party.