Caribbean Beat Magazine

Caribbean datebook (May/June 2015)

Events around the Caribbean in May and June — from the St Kitts Music Festival to the Tobago Legends football tournament

  • Photograph courtesy St Kitts Tourism Authority
  • Photograph by Oris Robinson courtesy CDC
  • Photograph by Maisna/
  • Photograph courtesy Tobago Football Legends Challenge
  • Photograph ourtesy Grenada Chocolate Festival
  • Photograph ©IDLinestudio
  • Photograph by stuart.dord/
  • Photograph by Henryk Sadura/
  • Photograph by Edison Boodoosingh
  • Photograph by Adnan Buyuk/

Don’t miss . . .

St Kitts Music Festival

25 to 27 June • Warner Park Stadium

The Caribbean’s cultural calendar is overflowing with music festivals, covering almost every musical style imaginable, from jazz and blues to reggae and dancehall, calypso to classical, salsa to zouk. But few have as eclectic a lineup as the St Kitts Music Festival, which turns nineteen this year. Since 1996, the festival has welcomed a galaxy of star regional and international artists — as diverse as Hugh Masekela and David Rudder, Jimmy Cliff and Roberta Flack, Kenny Rogers and Busta Rhymes — and during the three days of the festival, the population of tiny St Kitts swells with visiting music fans.

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates regular flights to V.C. Bird International Airport in Antigua and Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten, with frequent connections to Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport in St Kitts


If you’re in . . .

…St Vincent & the Grenadines: Vincy Mas

26 June to 7 July • venues around St Vincent

The self-proclaimed “hottest Carnival in the Caribbean” runs for almost two weeks, from Fantastic Friday on 26 June — featuring the semi-finals of the national calypso competition — to Mardi Gras on Tuesday 7 July. Along the way you’ll find all the events you’d expect from a Caribbean Carnival: soca, steel pan, J’Ouvert on Monday 6 July, and fetes galore.

“When we touch the road, we touch the road to party hard”: so said Vincentian soca star Gamal “Skinny Fabulous” Doyle in a Caribbean Beat interview last year. The former Vincy Mas soca monarch knows what he’s talking about. He’ll be a leading contender to reclaim the soca crown from 2014’s winner, Delroy “Fireman” Hooper, at the competition on Saturday 4 July, and whoever comes out on top, their songs are guaranteed to dominate the road on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

Other key events in the Vincy Mas season:

Junior Carnival Parade  27 June
Junior Pan Fest  28 June
Steel and Glitter (steel-band competition finals)  2 July
Dimanche Gras  5 July


…Cuba: Havana Biennial

22 May to 22 June • venues around Havana

“Between the idea and the experience” — that’s the theme for the Twelfth Havana Biennial, the biggest and most prestigious art event in the Caribbean, and reliably the most controversial. With a focus on the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and Asia, the Biennial is arguably the most important international gathering of artists from the “global south,” and the recent relaxing of travel restrictions by the US government means an even larger contingent of star curators and gallerists from the “north” will descend on the Cuban capital this year, competing to spot the next round of major talent.

Cuban artists will dominate the programme as usual. For the first time, there will be no central exhibition area, and artworks will be spread out across the city. Keep an eye out for other Caribbean talent, including Jamaican Ebony G. Patterson, Barbadian Ewan Atkinson, Puerto Rican Chemi Rosado, and Tirzo Martha and David Bade of Curaçao, among others. The gossip behind the scenes will almost certainly be about the fate of Tania Bruguera, the star Cuban artist detained and released by the Cuban government in January this year, after staging an unauthorised performance.


…Tobago: Football Legends Challenge

15 to 22 June • Dwight Yorke Stadium

Son-of-the-soil Dwight Yorke heads the squad of international football legends — including former stars from UK clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, and Aston Villa — preparing to face off with select teams from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and a Caribbean All Stars side, at the first-ever instalment of this new tournament. Sixty-four players have signed up, including Liverpool legend Stan Collymore, and former Chelsea teammates (and top club managers) Roberto Di Matteo and Gus Poyet.

Eight top teams will compete in the Legends six-a-side tournament, which is expected to reignite old team rivalries among the legendary names competing in Tobago’s laid-back and scenic landscape. “It’s been a while since I had a chance to strut my stuff back in Tobago,” says Yorke, the Legends ambassador,” and we will try to bring the trophy home for all my fans around our beautiful island and the world.” Young Tobago talent will also have a chance to shine, as Legends players visit schools and sports clubs around the island. Is the next Dwight Yorke waiting to be discovered in Pembroke or Parlatuvier, Carnbee or Charlotteville?


Make the most of May

30 April to 10 May
St Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival
Venues around St Lucia

Jamaicans Jimmy Cliff and Chronnix join Guadeloupean jazz pianist Alain Jean-Marie and Barbadian band Krosfyah at St Lucia’s major annual music event


2 to 3 May
IAAF World Relays
Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau

The world’s best sprint athletes, from over fifty countries, gather for the biggest international tournament devoted solely to relays


8 to 17 May
Grenada Chocolate Fest
True Blue Bay Resort and other venues

A celebration of the new movement towards sustainable, organic chocolate production, featuring food, drink (chocolate beer?), and cocoa estate tours


22 to 25 May
Terre de Blues
Grand-Bourg, Marie-Galante

The sixteenth annual blues festival on Marie-Galante, south of Guadeloupe, features Guy Vadeleux, Vasti Jackson, Mayra Andrade, and disco/R&B legends Sister Sledge


21 to 24 May
Anguilla Lit Fest
Paradise Cove Resort

This “literary jollification” brings Caribbean and international writers together to read and debate against a background of tropical sea blue


Jump into June


5 to 9 June, 13 to 17 June
West Indies vs Australia
Windsor Park, Dominica, and Sabina Park, Jamaica

The Australia cricket team’s tour of the West Indies includes just two Test matches — a prelude to the upcoming Caribbean Premiere League tournament


9 to 13 June
Jamaica International Reggae Film Festival
Island Village, Ocho Rios

A whole festival of films devoted to Jamaican music? Look out for features, documentaries, animated shorts, and awards for the best in show


11 to 14 June
Charleston Carifest
Charleston, South Carolina

June — Caribbean-American Heritage Month in the US — brings celebrations of all kinds, including this Caribbean-style Carnival in one of the country’s oldest cities


14 June
Ganga Dhaaraa River Festival
Blanchisseuse, Trinidad

This Hindu observance, paying tribute to the Ganges and all the world’s rivers, reminds participants of their vital connection to nature


17 to 27 June
Deepsea Challenge Bonaire
Plaza Beach Resort

Venezuelan freediving champ Carlos Coste is the star attraction at this international competition for strong-lunged divers. Will he break the world record again?