Happenings – March/April 2012

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

  • T&T celebrates with colour. Photograph by Edison Boodoosingh
  • Montserrat: the other Emerald Isle. Photograph courtesy Montserrat Tourist Board
  • Grenada: run to the rumshop. Photograph by Brian Steele
  • Celebrity chefs in St Croix. Photograph courtesy Ted Davis, D&D Studio
  • Karen Lord. Photograph by Risée N C Chaderton, Courtesy Karen Lord
  • St Maarten Heineken Regatta. Photograph by Tim Wright

T&T celebrates with colour

Known as Phagwa in Trinidad & Tobago, the Hindu festival of Holi is observed throughout the world wherever Hindu communities exist. In the Caribbean territories of Guyana and Suriname, it’s also a public holiday.

Holi, or the Festival of Colours, is a two-day spring festival, celebrated annually. The date changes from year to year, as it is determined by astronomy, and this year’s festivities will be observed on March 8 – 9.

It is celebrated all over Trinidad & Tobago, but some of the better-known locations are the Aranguez Savannah and the Tunapuna Hindu School in the east, and Williamsville and Princes Town in the south of Trinidad.

Phagwa celebrations are organised by several groups: the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, the National Phagwa Association, Hindu Prachar Kendra and Hindu Seva Saang.

Apart from dancing, chowtals (Bhojpuri folk songs) and pichakarees (a T&T musical art form that uses social commentary) are sung, and participants will also spray abeer (brightly coloured water) and gulals (dry colours) on each other, paying tribute to the festival of colours.



Montserrat: the other Emerald Isle

Like Ireland, Montserrat is known as “The Emerald Isle”, and it’s the only country other than Ireland where St Patrick’s Day – March 17 – is a public holiday.

The week-long St Patrick’s Festival draws on the island’s rich mix of Irish and African heritage, with some traditional Caribbean entertainment, making this one of Montserrat’s most popular annual events. Activities for the week include a Freedom Run from Cudjoe Head to Salem Park, a nature hike and a junior calypso competition.

Montserrat’s Irish heritage dates back to the seventeenth century, when the island became a haven for Irish Catholics who were persecuted on some other Caribbean islands. This history is still evident today, from the moment visitors arrive at the airport in Montserrat and receive a shamrock-shaped stamp in their passports.

During St Patrick’s Day festivities, visitors will notice many locals wearing national dress – in which green is the dominant colour – and both Guinness and green Heineken are available in bars!
African-inspired events such as the Freedom Run fun run and masquerade dancing commemorate slave history in Montserrat, specifically an unsuccessful uprising that took place on St Patrick’s Day in 1768. At a reconstructed slave village, stalls will sell traditional food, locals will gather to play traditional games such as dominoes and marbles, and masquerade dancers will put on colourful displays.



Carifta Games come to Bermuda

The games are here, the games are here! No, not the Olympics, although those take place later this year, but the Caribbean’s Carifta Games.

The games are scheduled for April 6 – 9 at the Bermuda National Stadium in Hamilton, which makes it the fourth time that Bermuda has had the honour of hosting them.

The games were first held in 1972, when only countries associated with the Caribbean Free Trade Association (Carifta) were eligible to compete. Today 25 Caribbean countries take part.

Carifta features most of the track and field disciplines: sprints, hurdles, relays, jumps and middle-distance track events. The games are managed under IAAF rules, so any records made or broken are recognised as official.

Since the athletes fall within the under-17 and under-20 categories, the games are always held over the Easter weekend to accommodate the school schedule.

As the 2012 games’ website proudly notes, over 30 Olympic medallists can trace their origins to the Carifta Games, including the Jamaican Usain Bolt, Bajan Obadele Thompson, and Bahamian Pauline Davis-Thompson.

For more information: www.carifta2012.com



Grenada: run to the rumshop

The first Inter-Caribbean Hash takes place on April 25 – 29 in Grenada. Mike Cowan, the Hash Master of the Grenada Chapter of the Hash House Harriers, explains, “The main requirements are that we start and finish from a rumshop, plenty of food and cold beers – and that the trails are challenging,”

With an average of 200 hashers going out each week, the Grenadian hashers who are playing host know the best places to show visitors. So for this inaugural hash, he says, there will be “some scenic trails to show our guests: waterfalls, beaches, the countryside, mountains and old rum factories”.

The aim of a hash isn’t to win, and competitiveness is discouraged. So you walk, run or stroll at your own pace, and if you decide to cut it short to return to the rumshop for the main event, go ahead…no one will judge you!

For more information: grenadahash.com



Anguilla’s Moonsplash in March

This year marks the 22nd edition of Moonsplash, created by Anguillan reggae singer Bankie Banx of The Roots & Herb fame. In 1991, Banx had the idea for a roving music festival, so the first shows were on Sandy Island, Pinel Island and St Barths, according to his son and manager Olaide Banks. Since 1999, the festival has had a permanent home at the Dune Preserve, Banx’s two-acre strip of land in Anguilla.

The festival has showcased some big names, among them Jimmy Buffett, Buju Banton, Third World, Ritchie Havens, Culture, Tarrus Riley, Toots & the Maytals, Bunny Wailer, and John Holt.

This year’s edition will feature Gramps Morgan of Morgan Heritage; David Hinds of Steel Pulse; Junior Jazz, the lead singer of Inner Circle; and the band I Kronic.

Of course it will also feature the host, Bankie Banx, and another of his sons, former West Indies cricketer Omari Banks, and his band Eleven. It will be held from March 8 – 11.

For more information: www.bankiebanx.net



Celebrity chefs in St Croix

The St Croix Food & Wine Experience was started in 2000 by restaurateurs Kelly Odom and Katherine Pugliese to foster a greater sense of camaraderie in the restaurant community. Today, the event is managed by the St Croix Foundation and this year it will be held on April 17 – 22. Event co-ordinator Alexandra Worede explained that this week-long affair includes:

•    A Taste of St Croix, the island-wide culinary competition and fete
•    Cork & Fork dinners, which are intimate dinners created by celebrated chefs
•    A wine-and-dine walk
•    The Iron Chef-Island Chef, a friendly competition between visiting celebrity chefs and local chefs
•    And the Wine in the Warehouse, a festive event featuring a wine-tasting, music, food and the opportunity to purchase wines featured during the week.

Celebrity guest chefs from the United States – Govind Armstrong, Eric Greenspan, Howie Kleinberg, Evelyn Paul, Orlando Santos, Ana Sortun, Roberto Treviño, Merlin Verrier, and Sue Zemanick – will also host cooking classes, dinners and competitions.

For more information, visit www.stcroixfoodandwine.com, like them on Facebook: St. Croix Food & Wine Experience or follow them on Twitter @STXFoodandWine



Writers gather for Bocas Lit Fest

Derek Walcott once described Port of Spain as “a 12.30 show”, a cinema set peopled with wannabe action heroes and matinee idols. But you could as easily call it a city of words, of citizen fabulists and street-corner orators, where shop clerks and politicians alike delight in their lyrics, and every rumshop limer can spin a good –  which is to say, bad – pun. What better place for a festival of stories and books and writers?

Enter the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, an annual celebration of literature in all its forms, with a Caribbean focus and international scope.

The 2012 festival,headquartered at Trinidad & Tobago’s National Library in downtown Port of Spain, runs for four action-packed days. Writers like Mervyn Morris and Kei Miller of Jamaica, Karen Lord of Barbados, the St Lucian poet Kendel Hippolyte and Trinidad-born Monique Roffey will join the Dutch-Irish novelist Joseph O’Neill (Netherland), Indian writer Rahul Bhattacharya (The Sly Company of Strangers) and Granta deputy editor Ellah Allfrey in a whirlwind programme of readings, talks, debates, and workshops.

One highlight is the announcement of the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, a US$10,000 award for the region’s best literary work published in the past year.

Throw in film screenings, music inspired by the written word, performance poetry on a special stage open to the bustling streets of the city, and a whole programme of events for children, the KFC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest (including storytelling events around the country for the whole of April), and you have practically a year’s worth of literary stimulation crammed into one long weekend and one city block.

In partnership with the Commonwealth Foundation and the British Council, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest also will host a groundbreaking one-day workshop on supporting Caribbean writers and publishing. It’s the kind of hard work that ensures there’ll be thrilling new Caribbean writers to celebrate in years to come.

The major sponsor of Bocas Lit Fest is the National Gas Company (NGC), with leading sponsorship from One Caribbean Media (OCM) and KFC. The Commonwealth Foundation, First Citizens Bank, and Flow are all contributors.

The 2012 NGC Bocas Lit Fest runs from April 26 – 29. For more information: www.bocaslitfest.com


Island Hopper

StarMile2.5 Nevis to St Kitts Cross Channel Swim
When: March 25
Where: Oualie Beach, Nevis
What: A 2.5-mile-long event in honour of former Nevis Cycle & Triathlon Club member Bente Weber
More info: contact Winston Crooke at windsurf@sisterisles.kn or visit www.active.com

Ruben Brown Anguilla Classic
When: April 9
Where: Temenos Golf Course
What: A charity golf event to raise funds to build the Anguilla Youth Sports Complex
More info: e-mail pr@kcyouthere.com or call (516) 655 2176

Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta
When: April 19 – 24
Where: Falmouth Harbour
What: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the regatta
More info: www.antiguaclassics.com

Jake’s Off Road Triathlon
When: April 21
Where: Treasure Beach, Jamaica
What: An exhilarating combination 500m ocean swim, 25k bike ride and 7k run
More info: jakesoffroadtri.com

Carriacou Maroon & String Band Music Festival
When: April 27 – 29
Where: Carriacou
What: A merger of Carriacou’s maroon culture with string-band music
More info: www.carriacoumaroon.com


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