Happenings – July/August 2012

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

  • Magic WAND. Photo courtesy WAND
  • Crop Over time. Photo courtesy the National Cultural Foundation
  • Crop Over time. Photo courtesy the National Cultural Foundation
  • Crop Over time. Photo courtesy the National Cultural Foundation
  • Where Art rules. Photo courtesy the Pancake Gallery
  • Where Art Rules. Photo courtesy the Pancake Gallery
  • Diver's delight. Photo courtesy images Dominica www.imagesdominica.com
  • Diver's delight. Photo courtesy images Dominica www.imagesdominica.com
  • Diver's delight. Photo courtesy images Dominica www.imagesdominica.com
  • Carnival in July. Photo courtesy www.luciancarnival.com
  • Carnival in July. Photo courtesy www.luciancarnival.com
  • Carnival in July. Photo courtesy www.luciancarnival.com
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  • Beautiful but deadly
  • Island Soul. Photo courtesy Harbourfront Centre (© Tom Bilenky)
  • Island Soul. Photo courtesy Harbourfront Centre (© Ricky Yu)
  • Magic WAND. Photo courtesy WAND
  • Crop Over time. Photo courtesy the National Cultural Foundation


Crop Over time

The Caribbean calendar has carnivals and carnival-style festivals vying for attention all year. In Barbados, the biggest is Crop Over, an almost two-month affair that officially began on June 30 with the ceremonial delivery of the last canes, and ends on August 6 with Grand Kadooment.

The festival’s name comes straight from Barbadian history. Sugar cane was the island’s main export, and the end of the harvest was time for celebration. Today’s Crop Over was revived in 1974 and embraces all Barbados’s cultural traditions.

The main highlights are the Pic-O-De-Crop competition, Cohobblopot, Bridgetown Market and Grand Kadooment.

The Pic-O-De-Crop finals return to the National Stadium on August 3, where ten calypsonians (singers) will vie for the title of Calypso Monarch of Barbados. Cohobblopot is a massive show, with Kadooment bands on display, and culminates with the crowning of the King and Queen of the bands. Bridgetown Market is a three-day event which turns Spring Garden Highway into a street fair, culture village and entertainment centre showcasing the best of Barbados. And the climactic Grand Kadooment is – well, come and see.

For more information visit www.barbadoscropoverfestival.com or www.visitbarbados.org

Stories by Mirissa De Four


Where Art rules

Art Rules Aruba is the creation of twin sisters, Ira-Sharay and Ayra-Anandra Kip, of the Pancake Gallery Foundation, an international arts collective. Born and raised in Amsterdam, the twins have a background in the arts. They both danced with the Lucia Marthas Dance Academy in Amsterdam. Ayra was an editor for MTV Networks, and Ira earned a degree in theatre production and directing. Both wanted to give something back, and so the collective was born.

It staged the first Art Rules Aruba in 2010. In an intense two-week programme, children were taught dance, fashion, photography, theatre, rap and poetry, film, DJing and painting, all by international experts.

This year, Art Rules Aruba takes place from July 6 to July 22. The workshops are open to youths and young adults; master classes and other activities will cater for those outside this age group. At the end of the two weeks, the teenagers display everything they have learnt in a collaborative event.

For more information visit www.artrulesaruba.com


Diver’s delight

The weeklong Dominica Dive Fest (July 6-15) stages events above and below the water for both adults and children. Diving enthusiasts get to experience underwater photo seminars, photography workshops, whale watching, boat races, beach parties, and even a wine and cheese cruise. Known as the nature island of the Caribbean, Dominica has underwater volcanoes, coral reefs, marine reserves and national parks.

Organised by the Dominica Watersports Association, the Dive Fest was started in 1994. According to the organisation’s website, it is an annual event that focuses “attention on the sport of scuba diving, to educate the public about scuba diving (as a tourism product and a career path), and to raise awareness about Dominica’s stunning and unique marine environment.”

For more information visit dominicawatersports.com or www.dominica.dm


Carnival in July

In the Caribbean, carnival comes more than once a year, as there are countries whose celebrations have wandered far from the traditional pre-Lenten slot. In St Lucia, according to the Tourist Board, the festival was moved so “the island would not have to compete with Trinidad and Tobago”. This year, Lucian carnival was officially launched on June 3 and will end on July 17 with the Parade of the Bands from Choc Roundabout to Castries.

Carnival fans can look forward to the Groovy Soca competition, Panorama, Calypso Monarch, J’Ouvert – and let’s not forget the Carnival Pageant on July 16, followed by the Parade of the Bands. There are fetes (parties) where you can hear the latest music: Just4Fun Cooler Fete, Wet Fete, and Outrageous Sexy in Black. Be prepared to be exhausted if you plan to visit at carnival time: there is something on every night in the lead-up to the main event.

For more information visit www.luciancarnival.com or www.stlucia.org

Island Hopper

Bermuda Billfish Blast
When: July 3–7
Where: The Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, Bermuda
What: A three-day event where teams catch and release marlin, spearfish and sailfish
More info: visit www.bermudabillfishblast.com

Reggae Sumfest
When: July 15–21
Where: Catherine Hall, Jamaica
What: Started in 1993, this is the place to be to enjoy reggae. Past performers include Jah Cure, Shaggy and Tarrus Riley
More info: visit www.reggaesumfest.com

Montserrat Calabash Festival
When: July 18–25
Where: throughout Montserrat
What: A celebration of all things calabash, with a food fair, concert and fashion show
More info: visit www.visitmontserrat.com

Tobago Underwater Carnival
When: July 22–29
Where: north and south Tobago
What: A week-long diving festival, with photography and marine biology seminars
More info: visit www.tobagounderwatercarnival.com or call 868 704-8668

Antigua Carnival
When: July 28–August 7
Where: throughout Antigua
What: J’Ouvert, Panorama and calypso competitions and the full carnival experience
More info: visit www.antiguacarnival.com

Curaçao North Sea Jazz Fest
When: August 31–September 1
Where: Piscadera Bay, Curaçao
What: Two days of jazz, soul, Latin, hip hop and R&B with international artists
More info: visit www.curacaonorthseajazz.com

Sauté Trinbago
When: September 22–23
Where: The Paddock, Queen’s Park Savannah, Trinidad
What: A 5-star festival – food, music, fashion, mas and steel pan
More info: visit www.facebook.com/sautetrinbago


Beautiful but deadly

Lionfish were first spotted in the Atlantic in 1985, probably as a result of the aquarium trade. They are highly invasive, native to the Indo-Pacific, and since 1985 they have multiplied exponentially, both up the east coast of the United States and through the Caribbean. Populations continue to increase, as the fish have few natural predators.

Lionfish are a real threat to our reefs, since they eat all the smaller reef fish. They have venomous fin rays, whose stings are quite painful. The potency of their venom makes them deadly predators and dangerous to fishermen and divers. At the same time, their flesh is delicious (could be the answer to the overfishing of snapper in the Caribbean).

Many Caribbean islands are trying to bring lionfish populations under control, even hosting contests to see who can kill the most in a day. One of these competitions is the 2nd Curaçao International Lionfish Hunt Challenge, held on July 6. The first was held in April: when seven teams of divers from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao culled 1,084 lionfish in one day.

For more information contact [email protected] or find the Lionfish Elimination Team on Facebook

Stories by Bridget van Dongen


Island Soul

The Harbourfront Centre’s wildly popular Caribbean festival takes place August 3-6, presented by CIBC. This year the festival marks the 50th anniversary of the independence of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago with contemporary Caribbean artists and tributes to former greats.

Island Soul highlights include live music from Wailers frontman and rising Jamaican star Duane Stephenson, and a tribute to the “Grand master” calpypsonian, the late Lord Kitchener. The festival also features traditional dance, music and drama by the Caribbean Folk Performers and other well-known Caribbean artists.

Also on the schedule is J’ouvert and a Reggaerobics/Socacize Workshop, where dancer/choreographer Tamala Matthews leads an aerobic-type programme that uses only reggae/dancehall and calypso/soca music to fuel stretching, cardio and toning. It’s intended for those who are not very active and who can benefit from music and company to get them moving.

The best part? It’s all free!

For more information and complete event listings: www.harbourfrontcentre.com/summer


Magic WAND

“The men have a 110-acre drug rehab centre at Piparo,” says Simone de la Bastide, “yet there’s nothing for women. There are no women-only drug rehab centres in the country or the wider region.”

WAND (Women in Action for the Needy and Destitute), which Simone chairs, decided to put that right. It took six years and almost US$1 million, the major donor being Medicor Foundation out of the UK, who gave US$644,000 towards the project – not to mention endless fund-raising by the dozen women on the board – but at last, at Palo Seco in south Trinidad, the centre is complete. It was officially opened last month.

“It is a place where women and young girls from Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean islands can live and receive professional counselling and learn a trade,” Simone says.

WAND, formed in 1998, is a non-profit, registered charitable organisation, supported by donations. It has built vocational schools/development centres for abused and abandoned women and children, and has helped with basic human needs, from medical supplies to simple house construction.

It has also built a TT$2m vocational school for over 100 displaced/challenged youngsters, where 23 subjects are taught – basic academic subjects, traditional crafts like welding, tiling, and plumbing, but also cosmetology, computer literacy, drama and music, hairdressing, screen printing, and electronics.

“I hope that WAND is partly filling a void in our social infrastructure,” says Simone, “as we try to help those who fall through the cracks in our society.”

For more information visit www.wandfoundation.org


A Gift to the Nation 2

Twenty-five years after the Marionettes Chorale’s first Gift to the Nation – commemorating the 25th anniversary of Trinidad & Tobago’s independence in 1987 – the choir commemorates T&T’s 50th anniversary with A Gift to the Nation II at the Queen’s Hall this July 14–15. A deliberate contrast to last year’s lavish production of Bizet’s Carmen, the programme features the exciting Caribbean premiere of Karl Jenkins’ contemporary classic, The Armed Man (A Mass for Peace). This multi-media and multi-cultural work, commissioned for the UK’s Millennium celebrations, is particularly distinctive for its inclusion of literary and visual elements. Complementing this one-hour work is a showcase of some of our nation’s most talented young people, as Music Festival winners – including members of the Marionettes’ new junior choir – take centre stage.

For tickets and information visit www.marionetteschorale.com