Caribbean Datebook (November/December 2014)

Events around the Caribbean (and further afield) in November and December — from surfing in Barbados to Pantomime in Jamaica

  • Photograph by Mark Harris
  • Photograph by Michael Lorde
  • Photograph courtesy Aruba Board of Tourism
  • Photograph by Edison Boodoosingh
  • Jab Molassie workshop
  • Marionettes Chorale
  • Courtesy Cayman National Cultural Foundation


Hang ten

November means surf’s up at the celebrated Soup Bowl on the east coast of Barbados, at the Barbados Independence Pro/Junior Pro Surfing Championship. This is the tournament’s second year as a two-in-one event, after the Barbados Surfing Association decided “it was time to pair up with the Association of Surf Professionals and bring a junior qualifying event to Barbados’s shores.” Last year the association was “hoping for a field of thirty-two competitors, and had sixty-four just for the Junior Pro.” With big names in the industry — such as eleven-time world champion Kelly Slater, three-time world champion Tom Curren, Dillion Greaves, Brad Gerlach, and Heath Walker — having made the 2013 event a reason to visit Barbados, don’t expect this year to be any different. Thousands of spectators, over 150 competitors, food, music, and even a kid zone make Soup Bowl the centre of the surfing action.

When: 13 to 16 November
Where: Soup Bowl, Bathsheba
For more info: visit or call +246 266 0842



Go panto

In 1941, Jack and the Beanstalk signalled the start of a Jamaican tradition that continues to this day: the LTM Pantomime, also known as the National Pantomime. That first production followed the English practice of taking a childhood story and re-imagining it for the stage “with elements of music, song, dance, comedy, drama, and colourful costumes and sets.” Over the decades, the Pantomime has become truly Caribbean, staging plays in Jamaican Patwa with stories that draw from the island’s culture and folktales. This year’s edition of the Pantomime — Princess of the Boonoonoonoos — opens on Boxing Day (as always), and runs until May 2015.

When: opens 26 December
Where: Little Theatre, Kingston
For more info: visit


Reggae Marathon
When: 6 December
Where: Long Bay Beach Park, Negril
What: You have to be up early for this IAAF-certified course — as in 5.15 am. There are three races: a 10K, half-marathon, and marathon, so pick the one that best suits you and lace up your trainers
For more info: visit


St Vincent and the Grenadines

Nine Mornings Festival
When: 16 to 24 December
Where: venues around SVG
What: This traditional pre-Christmas festival includes storytelling and carolling competitions, parties, church services, and even sea baths — starting at 3 am each day
For more info: call SVG Nine Mornings Committee chairman Michael Peters at +784 451 2180 or 455 9199



Wish them well

The Caribbean’s rich musical legacy has given the world so many genres: ska, reggae, dubstep, calypso, soca, zouk . . . and dande. Said to come from the Papiamento word dandara, meaning “to revel or carouse,” dande is similar to the practice of neighbourhood Christmas carolling, but focused on wishing loved ones well for the new year. Groups of five to six people, armed with drum, tambu, wiri, and raspa, go from house to house wishing friends and family success and wealth with improvised songs. At year-end, there’s an entire festival dedicated to the genre, with original compositions performed in what is described as Aruba’s largest traditional music event.

When: 27 and 28 December
Where: around Aruba
For more info: call Dande Festival organiser Harry Croes at +297 585-9228



Bahamas International Film Festival
When: 4 to 14 December
Where: Atlantis Theatre and Galleria JFK
What: For eleven years and counting, this film fest has promoted Bahamian culture and filmmaking. The 2014 programme includes special screenings, masterclasses, and plans to bestow Danny Glover with a Career Achievement Award
For more info: visit


When: 26 December and 1 January
Where: downtown Nassau
What: The Bahamas’ annual masquerade brings elaborate costumes, floats, and dancing to the streets, with prizes for best costumes, music, and overall presentation



When: 1 to 3 November
Where: St James and Cedros
What: Brought to Trinidad in the 19th century by Shia Muslim indentured immigrants, this commemoration of the martyrdom of Hussein and Hassan, grandsons of Prophet Muhammad, features parades of flags and tadjahs (colourful replica mausoleums), accompanied by solemn tassa drumming

“Jab Molassie” (World Premiere)
When: 6 to 9 November
Where: Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook
What: Calabash Foundation for the Arts presents the World Premiere of “Jab Molassie” — a new music-theatre work with original music by London based TT composer Dominique Le Gendre and libretto by Caitlyn Kamminga, Assistant Professor of Double Bass at UTT’s Academy for the Performing Arts. A Trinidad & Tobago adaptation of Igor Stravinsky’s internationally renowned “The Soldier’s Tale”, the cast features Wendell Manwarren, Roger Roberts, Nickolai Salcedo, Natalia Dopwell, Germaine Wilson and Dominique Doyle. The production is directed by Jamaican Patricia Cumper, and is assisted by Caroline Taylor. The other member of the creative team are Musical Director is Ian Shaw, Dave Williams (Movement Director), Kathryn Chan (Set and Costume Design), Benny Gomes (Lighting Design) and Robin Foster (Sound Design). For more:

“Christmas Peace”
When: 4 to 7 December
Where: Queen’s Hall, Port of Spain
What: Fresh off their celebrated 50th anniversary production of “Les Misérables” in July, the BP Marionettes’ adult, Youth and Children’s choirs return to weave the Yuletide theme through a mix of classical, spirituals, gospel, and popular local and international Christmas favourites. For more:



Flying Colours Kite Festival
When: 26 December
Where: Plymouth Recreational Grounds
What: From store-bought to handmade, big or small, all kites are welcome. If you get lost, just look to the skies for your landmark: the kites will show the way, dancing in the Christmas breeze. Happy flying!
For more info: call Valerie Critten-Stewart +868 639 5428


Cayman Islands

Tell your tale

Before movies and TV came along, the oral tradition was an important part of many cultures, as it was a means of remembering, a way to convey life lessons or plain old fun. Since 1998, the Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival — or Gimistory — has honoured that tradition, inviting storytellers from around the world to “spin a yarn,” from the humourous to the dramatic. There are no fixed locations, as “the festival takes place in parks, beaches, and even a private backyard, all of which evoke an atmosphere of the days of yore when storytelling was our only entertainment.” Come prepared to be amused and entertained — and maybe to tell a story of your own.

When: 29 November to 6 December
Where: around the Caymans
For more info: visit



Nevis International Triathlon
When: 15 November
Where: around Nevis
What: A mix of international long-, Olympic, and sprint distances across the length and breadth of Nevis, including a 2K swim, 90K cycling, and 21K run. Whatever your stamina level, there’s a course for you
For more info: visit

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