Happenings – January/February 2011

A round-up of current and coming events on the Caribbean calendar

  • Spice Island Sailing. Photograph by Onne Van Der Wal
  • Jazz and Blues in Jamaica. Photograph by the Jamaica Tourist Board
  • Edward Ramdass performing at the Grand Finals of the Chutney Soca Monarch. Photograph by www.southex.co.tt
  • Countdown to Carnival. Photograph by Andrea De Silva
  • Mashramani. Photograph by the Guyana Tourist Board
  • Photograph by Gary Clifford

Carnival coming to Carriacou

Carnival is celebrated on the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique on March 7 – 8, the same dates as Trinidad & Tobago’s. Carnival in Carriacou opens with Dimanche Gras, a calypso competition, on Sunday night. It lasts till the wee hours of Monday – J’Ouvert morning, when everyone spills out onto the streets to dance and celebrate.

Then the parade of the bands begins, with mas players sporting colourful costumes with imaginative themes. Shakespeare Mas on Tuesday is a must-see. People dressed as pierrot grenades journey between villages, performing speeches from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – with tots of rum in between performances.

To find out more, call (473) 443 7948  or visit www.grenadagrenadines.com

Battle for the biggest billfish

Grenada’s Budget Marine Spice Island Billfish Tournament takes place at the peak of the billfish season, when sailfish, white marlin and blue marlin are there for the taking. Based at the Grenada Yacht Club in St George’s, the tournament practises a modified catch-and-release system. Teams come from the surrounding Caribbean islands and the rest of the world.

This year’s tournament is scheduled for January 23 – 27.

For more information, anglers and spectators can contact Kira Francis at (473) 435 3842, e-mail [email protected]

Spice Island sailing

The 18th annual Grenada Sailing Festival happens on two consecutive weekends this year, and Sarah Baker, the festival’s co-ordinator, says it’s a great opportunity “to experience the warm hospitality of the people and to get a taste of the culture, food and drinks that make Grenada a special place”.

The festival starts on January 28, with a skippers’ briefing and welcome party, before the international yacht racing from January 29 – February 1, from Port Louis. The second part of the fun is on February 4 – 6: that’s the Digicel-sponsored Work Boat Regatta, a contest between brightly painted wooden boats with traditional bamboo rigging, held off Grand Anse Beach. Baker says the festival offers “excellent sailing conditions, well-run racing and laid-back, great fun parties”. For the sailors, the prizes and the chance to be Skipper of the Year are added attractions!

For more information, contact the Grenada Sailing Festival at (473) 440 4809 or e-mail [email protected]

Mirissa De Four

Caribbean Airlines now flies return services from Port of Spain to Grenada and New York on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Customers can book online at www.caribbean-airlines.com, call the airline toll-free at + 800 744 2225 or contact their travel agent to make bookings.

Jazz and blues in Jamaica

Now in its 15th year, the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival has become one of the most anticipated events at the beginning of the year. It’s not just the music, which, over the years, has been provided by the likes of Gladys Knight, Anita Baker, John Legend, Maxi Priest, Estelle, Alicia Keys and Billy Ocean, but also the environment. With beautiful beaches and activities such as diving with dolphins, this festival encourages patrons to make a full vacation out of their experience. The festival kicks off with concerts at hotels in Kingston, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay; the main festival is at the Greenfield Stadium in Trelawny. The Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival runs from January 23 – 29.

For more info visit: www.jamaicajazzandblues.com/jazz2011

Jazz is big in Barbados

Now in its 18th year, the Barbados Jazz Festival boasts the crème de la crème of the music world. The festival has featured star singers such as Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Al Jarreau, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Robin Thicke, James Blunt and the late Luciano Pavarotti, to name a few.
Shows are held in a variety of venues, including the 300-year-old Sunbury House and the scenic Farley Hill.
The festival runs from January 10 – 16.

For more info visit: www.barbadosjazzfestival.com

Chutney Soca for T&T Carnival

Calypso and soca are known worldwide as the music of Carnival, but in multi-ethnic Trinidad & Tobago, chutney soca is also synonymous with the season. An Indo-Trinidadian musical form, chutney soca is fast-paced, with singers incorporating East Indian film tunes, folk tunes, and even bhajans with soca music. The Chutney Soca Monarch competition, hosted by Southex Event Management, is now a big event on the Carnival calendar. The winner walks away with a car and cash prizes.

Chutney Soca Monarch prelims: January 29
Semifinals: February 5
Finals: February 19

For more info visit: www.southex.co.tt

Laura Dowrich-Phillips

Countdown to Carnival

The months leading up to Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago are filled with competitions and fetes (parties). They can be divided into all-inclusives (ticket price includes food and drink) and fetes where carrying cash, or eating and drinking at home is advisable. With so many fetes to attend, working out a schedule (and budget) might be best, since the party can go right up to Carnival Monday. Keep in mind that dates and venues are subject to change, so check for up-to-date information closer to the event.

Some all-inclusives:

January 28:      St Francois Girls’ College Annual All-Inclusive at St John’s Hall, Port of Spain
January 29:      Outta De Blue, QRC All-Inclusive, QRC Grounds in St Clair
January 30:      Island People Amnesia
February 5:      Bishop Anstey All-Inclusive at Bishop Anstey Grounds, Port of Spain
February 6:      UWI Annual All-Inclusive Carnival Fete, UWI Grounds, St Augustine
February 20:    Friends of the Blood Bank Fete
March 3:          Beach House
March 5:          Island Style Insomnia
March 6:          Brian Lara All-Inclusive, Chancellor Hill, Queen’s Park West

Other fetes:

February 12:    Chutney Glow
February 18:    Ladies First, Pier 1, Chaguaramas
February 25:    Army Fete, QP Savannah
February 27:    T&TEC Soca Shoka,St John’s Hall, Port of Spain

The sweet sound of steel

Steelpan, the national instrument of Trinidad & Tobago, stars in its own show in the run-up to Carnival. For diehard spectators and panmen, Panorama is the highlight of the season – not the mud mas that is played on J’Ouvert, nor the colourful costumes on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, but the sweet pulsating music that comes from an oil drum.

Preliminary contests are held in panyards throughout the two islands, but Panorama finals are held every year on the Saturday before Carnival. This year, it will be on March 5 in the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain. Beware of “Trini time”: there is no guarantee that anything will start on time, and this is especially true at Carnival. But people also come for the music, the lime (or party) and the food. So while you’re waiting, there’s much to see and do on Panorama night.

For more information, visit www.pantrinbago.co.tt or call its head office at (868) 623 4486

Mirissa De Four

Island Hopper

Bob Marley’s Birthday Celebrations
When: January 30 – February 6
Where: Kingston, Jamaica
What: A celebration of Bob Marley’s birthday with a concert, exhibition and parties
For more info: www.jcdc.gov.jm

Barbados Music Awards
When: January 5 – 11
Where: Various venues
What: A celebration of Barbados music and performers
For more info: www.goldcoastrecords.com/bma

St Barts Music Festival
When: January 7 – 19
Where: Various venues
What: Prominent classical, opera, ballet, and jazz stars perform
For more info: www.wimco.com/villa-rentals/caribbean/st-barthelemy/st-barts-music-festival.aspx

Accompong Maroon Festival
When: January 6
Where: Accompong, Jamaica
What: Descendants of Maroons pay tribute to their ancestors
For more info: www.visitjamaica.com/events/accompong-maroon-festival.aspx?terms=maroon

Caribbean Marketplace
When: January 16 – 18
Where: Montego Bay, Jamaica
What: Premier marketing event of the Caribbean hospitality industry
For more info: www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com


When: February 23
Where: Georgetown, Guyana
What: Carnival-like festival commemorating Guyana’s republican status
For more info: www.guyana-tourism.com