Caribbean Datebook (March/April 2014)

Events around the Caribbean in March and April

  • Courtesy South Grenada Regatta
  • Photograph courtesy BIFF
  • Courtesy Miami Rum Renaissance Festival /Tatu Kaarlas
  • Photograph by Nicholas Laughlin
  • Maria Nunes, courtesy Bocas Lit Fest
  • Photograph by Salim October/

Trinidad and Tobago

Put on your mas

The Trinidad and Tobago calendar revolves around Carnival, many would say. In the years when Carnival falls “late” — this year, 3 and 4 March — the longer season is no less hectic. It just means there’s even more time to perfect your wine at the ever-growing number of fetes, while trying to save enough energy for the big finish.

Once Fantastic Friday (February 28) arrives and the final pre-Carnival weekend begins, a special energy fills the air. The International Soca Monarch is crowned (never without a dose of controversy), the Panorama finals bring out fierce traditional rivalries between the country’s top steelbands, and then the real drama begins on the Dimanche Gras stage, where the Calypso Monarch is revealed. It’s an excellent segue into J’Ouvert, beginning in the wee hours of Carnival Monday. Mud, paint, powder, bacchanalia, and political commentary all mix together in the dark, before the sun rises to unveil the glitz and glamour of the Parade of the Bands.

1 March     National Panorama finals (medium and large steelbands)
2 March    Dimanche Gras
3 March    J’Ouvert and Parade of the Bands
4 March    Parade of the Bands and Las’ Lap

To keep up with what’s happening during the “greatest show on Earth,” visit the National Carnival Commission website at



Get booking

Though launched just three years ago, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Trinidad and Tobago’s annual literary festival, is already an essential part of the Caribbean literary calendar. Its focus on writing from and about the region attracts authors both famous and fledgling for an intense programme of readings, discussions, peeformances, films and more — over a hundred events in five days. 2014 highlights include a special tribute to Caribbean performance poetry traditions (in the year the late Jamaican dub poet Mikey Smith would have turned sixty), a series of events on how books and reading can change lives, a look at the Caribbean’s relationship to Shakespeare (the bard’s 450th birthday falls on the opening day of the festival), and a focus on crime writing. Throw into the mix the awards ceremony for the OCM Bocas Prize and other writing awards, the final of a national poetry slam, and an entire children’s festival too, and you have a year’s worth of literary excitement crammed into less than a week, in the busy heart of the capital city. And there’s no better place to preview some of T&T’s emerging generation of star writers, like the ones profiled in this issue (see page 48).

When: 23 to 27 April
Where: venues around Port of Spain
For more info: visit



Saborea Puerto Rico
When: 3 to 6 April
Where: Escambron Beach, San Juan
What: Thirty restaurants a day. Sixty culinary personalities. Cooking demonstrations. Wine and beer tastings. A one-day pass gives you access to all this and more, while a weekend pass gets you into three major events.
For more info: visit



Miami Rum Renaissance Festival
When: 25 to 27 April
Where: Miami Airport Convention Centre
What: Every aspect of rum-making, under one roof: from manufacturing to mixing, and you get to enjoy it all. Rum lovers can rub shoulders with experts at seminars and lectures, while sampling over two hundred rums from more than thirty countries
For more info: visit



Jazz Artists on the Greens
When: 5 April
Where: The Greens, Farm Road, St Joseph
What: A “bring your chair and come” event — patrons are encouraged to pick a spot and just enjoy the music and the ambiance. This year, the five-hour festival will feature Trinidad-based vocalist Nyol Manswell, Cuban jazz trio Espiral, steelpan maestro Ken Philmore, guitarist Cameron Pierre, and Barbadian vocalist Marissa Lindsay
For more info: visit JazzArtistsOnTheGreens on Facebook



Catch a flick

Made (in)famous by the mysterious Bermuda Triangle, this small group of islands has another claim to fame: the Bermuda International Film Festival (BIFF), one of sixty-two Academy Award–qualifying festivals in the world. As operations manager Andrew Stoneham explains, “The festival’s coveted Bermuda Shorts Award, bestowed upon the festival’s best narrative live-action short film, qualifies its winner for consideration at the Academy Awards,” so attendees can get a little heads-up on the following year’s Oscars. The 17th edition of the festival will bring together local and international filmmakers to tell their stories through a mix of features and short films, and BIFF also organises film screenings, workshops, and summer camps to bring cinema to life for Bermudians throughout the year.

When: 21 to 27 March
Where: Liberty Theatre, Hamilton
For more info: visit



Holders Season
When: 20 March to 5 April
Where: Holders House, St James
What: This historic plantation house is the centre stage for a world-class week of music, theatre, and comedy. From One Night with Joan Collins to 100 Years of Jazz in 99 Minutes, Holders Season draws performers and audiences from all over the world, and leaves them eager for more
For more info: visit



Tobago Jazz Experience
When: 19 to 27 April
Where: venues around Tobago
What: Nine-time Grammy Award–winner John Legend is the main headliner at the 2014 festival, alongside Keyshia Cole, Brandy, and Earth, Wind, and Fire. Enjoy great music by these and other stars, and experience Tobago in all its natural wonder
For more info: visit



Kingston Book Festival
When: 1 to 9 March
Where: venues around Kingston
What: It started as a trade event for the publishing business, organised by the Book Industry Association of Jamaica, but the programme of discussions, readings, and workshops has more than a few attractions for ordinary readers and book-lovers
For more info: visit KingstonBookFestival on Facebook


Across the Caribbean

Set sail

Nothing says “vacation in the tropics” more than sun, sea, and sand, and what activity offers that combination better than sailing the Caribbean Sea? In a region where the climate is divided between dry and rainy seasons, March and April (both dry) are chock full of enough regatta events to satisfy the desires of even the most avid sailor. March kicks off in grand style with the South Grenada Regatta and its four races in five different categories — with spinnaker, without spinnaker, catamaran, fun class, and J24 — and ends with the St Thomas International Regatta, described as “the crown jewel of Caribbean racing.” Meanwhile, the British Virgin Islands Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival runs from 31 March to 6 April, with BBQs, parties, snorkelling, diving, and kiteboarding alongside the sailing. These two months of competition climax with Antigua Sailing Week, where the trade winds that once brought explorers to the shores of these Caribbean islands now test the will and skill of a new generation of adventurers.

6 to 9 March
South Grenada Regatta,

6 to 9 March
34th St Maarten Heineken Regatta,

19 to 22 March
Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous, British Virgin Islands,

27 to 30 March
St Barths Bucket Regatta,

28 to 30 March
St Thomas International Regatta, US Virgin Islands,

31 March to 6 April
BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival,

17 to 21 April
Bequia Easter Regatta,

17 to 22 April
Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta,

26 April to 2 May
Antigua Sailing Week,

Funding provided by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme Direct Support Grants Programme.
The views expressed on this website are those of the the authors and do not reflect those of the Direct Support Grants Programme.