Happenings – March/April 2011

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

–Antigua sailing week. Photograph by Tim WrightDesigned by Bradley GrahamFlying high in Jamaica. Photograph courtesy Jamaica Kite FestivalNot just another manic Monday. Photograph by Mark LyndersayPhotograph courtesy Blue Bay, CuraçaoPhotograph courtesy Holders SeasonSplash out in St Kitts & Nevis. Photograph courtesy SKN Triathlon FederationTry a triathlon in Nevis. Photograph courtesy SKN Triathlon Federation

Not just another manic Monday

“Is mud, mud, mud, mud, mud madness!” This line from rapso group 3Canal’s hit song, “Mud Madness”, describes what J’Ouvert is all about in Trinidad & Tobago. It starts in the early hours of Carnival Monday morning (March 7 this year), and there is nothing quite like chipping down the street with a crisp cool breeze caressing your skin – at least the parts that aren’t coated in mud!

In local street theatre tradition, this is also when blue devils, jab jabs, bats and other old-time Carnival characters to come to life.

J’Ouvert celebrations are not exclusive to Port of Spain, but can be found throughout both islands, with different towns putting their own spin on things. But there is something to be said for tramping the streets at the heart of “tong” (town), as Port of Spain is affectionately known, or its outskirts – Woodbrook, St Clair and St James – with the throbbing bass rhythms from music trucks or the beat of the steelband surrounding you.

T&T’s Carnival curtain-raiser

Dimanche Gras could be said to be the grease that gets Trinidad & Tobago’s Carnival machinery moving. Not only the patois name for Carnival Sunday, which this year falls on March 6, the phrase also refers to the Sunday-night competitions that showcase the best King and Queen of Carnival costumes and the old musical traditions.

The costumes are judged first and then the big stage belongs to calypso, with the title of National Calypso Monarch being awarded to the calypsonian (male or female) who most impresses with his or her compositions. Current affairs provide material for classic calypsoes, as calypsonians use the artform to expose the social ills of Trinidad & Tobago or to poke fun at politicians.

The Dimanche Gras show is held at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

For more information, visit www.ncctt.org


Jump on the Carnival bandwagon

Preparations for Trinidad & Tobago’s Carnival start months in advance, as bandleaders work to make sure thousands of masqueraders have their costumes in time for Carnival Monday.

Every year, many masqueraders return home from foreign climes in order to play with their favourite mas bands. Some of the more popular are MacFarlane, Genesis, Tribe, Trini Revellers, D’Krewe, Harts, Island People, Legacy, Masquerade, Pulse8 and Spice Mas.

As with J’Ouvert, various towns throughout the two islands have their own celebrations, but if you want to have your finger on the pulse of Carnival, then Port of Spain is the place to be. There are several judging points along the parade route: Adam Smith Square, Ariapita Avenue; South Quay, downtown Port of Spain; Piccadilly Street; and the Savannah.

The choice is yours whether you prefer to be a participant or an onlooker – but either way, Trinidad & Tobago Carnival is an unmissable event.



Negril’s spring break for the soul

If you’re interested in activities and music that revitalise both body and soul, then the Elasha Spring Fest is just the event for you. Described as “the ultimate spring break experience” on its website, it is scheduled for March 6 – 12 in Negril, Jamaica.

Darren Brown, president of the organisers, Elasha Ministries, says this gospel-filled event “seeks to enable and promote ministry through the arts”.

The festival gives young people an opportunity to express their talents through the visual arts, singing, dancing, sign language, drama, promoting and producing gospel music and community outreach.

The week of activities will end with a gospel concert with artistes who include DJ Nicholas, Jabez, Abigail Hamilton (USA), De Warrior (Barbados), and Apostles Responsible for Ministering in Sign (ARMS), along with other local gospel singers and worship leaders.

For more information call (876) 580 2363 or e-mail elasha.spring.fest@gmail.com



Stroke play at Blue Bay

The fifth VIP.com Pro-Am Golf Tournament takes place in Curaçao on March 24 – 26. The tournament, started in 2006, is organised by Blue Bay Curaçao, an 18-hole golf resort. The hotel’s commercial manager, Rogier S van der Meer, says golf professionals come to this tournament from all over the world: the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, UK, USA, Canada, Jamaica, Venezuela, and Colombia.

Golfers play three days of stroke play to become the winning professional of the stroke play event. On the second and third day, three amateurs play with a professional to become the Pro-Am team champions.

Van der Meer believes this Pro-Am is special because of “its easy-going atmosphere [and] direct contact with professionals, as well as great parties at several locations with high-class food and entertainment”.

The tournament is spread across two golf courses, at Blue Bay Curaçao and the Curaçao Golf and Squash Club in Emmastad.

For more information, visit http://golf.bluebay-curacao.com or e-mail [email protected]



Be a windsurfing winner in Curaçao

For the first time, this year the Curaçao Challenge will host the International Funboard Class Association (IFCA) Slalom World Championships for prokids, junior, youth and masters divisions on April 19 – 24.

The Curaçao Challenge is a windsurfing competition that has been held for the past two years. Sebastiaan Opschoor, the competition’s press officer, says, “One of the main reasons the IFCA chose [this event] and Curaçao as [the] backdrop for their yearly competition is the great windsurfing conditions on the island and the special feel of the event itself – where fun, friends and competitiveness are blended together perfectly.”

For more information, visit www.curacaochallenge.com, www.facebook.com/curacaochallenge or www.twitter.com/windsurfcuracao


Flying high in Jamaica

Kite-flying is a favourite pastime throughout the Caribbean at Easter, and in Jamaica, it gets its own festival, at the Richmond Estates on Jamaica’s north coast. It is a chance to experience Jamaica’s cuisine and music as well as myriads of colourful and innovative kites.

This year’s programme includes stunt flyers from the United States and kite competitions, with categories such as biggest, smallest, most artistic, and highest-flying.

Courtney Wallace, the festival’s organiser, in an e-mail interview, said the competitions will be held on the Sunday, and Monday “will be [the] general kite day where the entire family will just come out, fly kites, [and] enjoy the various rides and food on offer”.

Dancehall star Beenie Man will be there as Mr Kite Festival, alongside a number of other local artistes.

The Jamaica International Kite Festival takes place on April 24 – 25.

For more information call (876) 443 3984, or e-mail Courtney Wallace at cl_lynx@yahoo.com



Splash out in St Kitts & Nevis

The StarMile2.5 Nevis to St Kitts Cross Channel Swim is a 2.5 mile-long event in honour of the late Nevis Cycle & Triathlon Club (TNCTC) member Bente Weber, who died in 2000. Started in 2003, the swim is organised by the TNCTC and the SKN Triathlon Federation. Last year’s event was the biggest ever, with 97 participants from nine to 73.

The course starts at Oualie Beach in Nevis and ends at Cockleshell Bay, St Kitts. Held on the last Sunday in March (27), it begins at 8 am.

Participants may use fins, snorkels or wetsuits to cross the channel, although if they do, they won’t be eligible for race prizes. The swimmer to beat is American Rhian Purdy, who took just over an hour (1:05:21) to cross in 2010.

For more information, contact Winston Crooke at windsurf@sisterisles.kn or visit www.active.com



Try a triathlon in Nevis

In an effort to put Nevis on the sport tourism map, the St Kitts & Nevis Triathlon Federation has created a whole week of activities in April to appeal to athletes at all levels. The schedule begins on April 1 with the TriStar11.1 Nevis Junior Triathlon: a 100m swim, a 10km bike ride, and a 1km run.

The TriStar111 Nevis International Triathlon on April 2 is a 1km swim, 100km bike ride, and 10km run. Once the swim leg of TriStar111 is completed, the TriStar33.3 for more experienced athletes will start. This is a 300m swim, 30km bike ride (one lap of Nevis), and a 3km run.

And on April 23, in the annual SKN National Triathlon Championships, the federation’s athletes compete for the title of national champion in both Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km bike ride, 10km run) and Sprint distance (750m swim, 20km bike ride, 5km run).

Male and female triathletes who take part can obtain points towards their regional and global rankings in the sport.

For more information on the Nevis triathlon, contact Winston Crooke at windsurf@sisterisles.kn or (869) 469 9682/ 664 2843


Island Hopper

57th Grand Carnival Parade
When: March 6
Where: Oranjestad, Aruba
What: Held the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, it is the fitting
end to a month of Carnival celebrations throughout the island
For more info: www.aruba.com

St Barths Bucket Regatta
When: March 24 – 27
Where: St Barths
What: A race for sailing yachts over 100 feet in length
For more info: www.bucketregattas.com

Holders Season 2011
When: March 19
Where: Holders House, Barbados
What: This 300-year-old house is the place to experience
a mix of “opera, music and theatre”
For more info: (246) 432-6385 or e-mail theseason@holders.net

Rincón Film Festival
When: April 12 – 17
Where: Rincón, Puerto Rico
What: Promoting film and the arts in Puerto Rico
For more info: www.rinconfilm.com

Antigua & Barbuda International Kite Festival
When: April 19 – 27
Where: Throughout Antigua
What: Kite flying
For more info: call Calvin Pilgrim at (268) 774 4879

Antigua Sailing Week
When: April 24 – 29
Where: Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour
What: Five days of racing in five boat categories – CSA or IRC, bareboat,
multihull, international dragon and unclassed
For more info: (268) 462-0374 or visit www.sailingweek.com



The Bocas Lit Fest (The Trinidad & Tobago Literary Festival

The Bocas del Dragón – the Dragon’s Mouths – are the narrow straits off Trinidad’s northwest peninsula, linking the sheltered Gulf of Paria to the open Caribbean Sea. For centuries, these were the chief maritime gateways connecting Trinidad to the Caribbean and the Atlantic. And now they lend their name to the Bocas Lit Fest, the newest event on the Caribbean’s literary calendar.

To be launched in April, the Bocas Lit Fest is a four-day celebration of books, writing, and writers, based in Port of Spain but with satellite events around Trinidad and Tobago. The programme of readings, discussions, workshops, and performances – plus a Friday night “poetry crawl” – brings a long overdue literary focus to the city’s cultural diversity, and draws on its urban energy. The festival also reflects Trinidad & Tobago’s distinguished literary heritage, which includes the celebrated writers CLR James, Samuel Selvon, VS Naipaul, Earl Lovelace, and (by adoption) Derek Walcott.

The centrepiece of the event will be the announcement of the winner of the new OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, a major (US$10,000) award for the best book of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction published by a Caribbean writer in the preceding year.

Alongside a planned series of book launches and signings, the Bocas Lit Fest also engages Trinidad & Tobago’s strong tradition of oral and performance literature, with spoken-word events, and workshops covering topics like calypso and rapso lyrics and the “robber talk” of the traditional Midnight Robber character of Trinidad Carnival. And storytelling workshops for children will ensure that younger readers aren’t left out.

The 2011 Bocas Lit Fest runs from April 28 – May 1.

For information on the full programme of events and a list of participating writers from Trinidad & Tobago, the Caribbean, and further afield, visit: www.bocaslitfest.com.