Caribbean Beat Magazine

Caribbean Datebook (March/April 2016)

Your guide to Caribbean events in March and April, from St Patrick’s Day in Montserrat to jazz in Tobago

  • Photo courtesy Gerrard Wilson Photography
  • Photo courtesy the Montserrat Tourist Board
  • Photo by Laurence Harvey, courtesy The Nevis Blues Festival
  • Photo courtesy The Grenada Tourism Authority
  • Photo by Stuart Patrick, courtesy Jazz Artists On The Green
  • Photo by Nicholas Laughlin
  • Photo courtesy the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Photo by Forcellini Danilo/
  • Photo by Maria Nunes, courtesy the NGC Bocas Lit Fest

Don’t miss . . .

Rally Trinidad

25 to 27 March • venues around Trinidad

For auto-lovers and thrillseekers alike from across the Caribbean, the T&T Rally Club’s annual three-day tournament is a mainstay. Top rally teams from neighbouring islands will test their skills, nerves, and reflexes on Trinidad’s famed gravel stages, in a breathtaking battle for the top title.

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates numerous daily flights to Piarco International Airport in Trinidad, its home base and hub


If you’re in . . .

. . . Montserrat: St Patrick’s Day Festival

10 to 17 March

When you think of St Patrick’s Day, you probably imagine Ireland bedecked in green, closely followed by the United States and its St Paddy’s Day parades and celebrations. But did you know that Montserrat is the only place outside Ireland to celebrate St Patrick’s Day as a public holiday? More than just the feast day of the Irish patron saint, 17 March in Montserrat also marks the culmination of a ten-day “week” of celebrations to commemorate an uprising of enslaved Africans in 1768. Sometimes called The Other Emerald Isle, a direct reference to its historical linkages with Ireland, Montserrat has a substantial population who can trace their lineage to Irish ancestors.

Although the original home of the St Patrick’s Day Festival , the village aptly named St Patrick’s, is now buried under ash and lava from the 1995 eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano, today events are held in several locations: like the Sankofa Gardens Banana Fest in Brades on 11 March; Leprechaun’s Revenge in Bunkum Bay on the 12th; and the Montserrat National Trust Flower Show on 14 March in Salem. On 20 March, it all wraps up with a beach fete in Little Bay.


. . . Nevis: Nevis Blues Festival

14 to 16 April

With a population of just over 12,000, 36 square miles, and just 406 hotel rooms, it’s no surprise the island of Nevis can deliver on its promise of a small, intimate music festival. It means you’ll have both the time and the space to enjoy performances by such artistes as American guitarist Kirk Fletcher, British blues hall-of-famer Ian Siegal, and British jazz singer Denise Gordon.

Now in its second year, the Nevis Blues Festival runs in mid-April at Sundowner Stage, Oualie Beach, to the north of the island. There you’ll have the choice of listening to award-winning artistes from the UK, the US, the Netherlands, and Ireland. Thursday 14 April will see the Rhythm Chiefs take the stage, followed by funk rockers Northsyde and Fletcher. On Friday, Gordon (of Nevisian parentage) will be on, with Siegal closing the set that night. Saturday brings a special treat, as the guitarists in the line-up — Simon McBride, Kirk Fletcher, Dusty Ciggaar, Denny Ilett, and Jules Fothergill — will showcase their skill in a programme called Celebrating the Electric Guitar. Not to be outdone, the ladies — Denise Gordon and Lorna Fothergill of Northsyde with The Rhythm Chiefs — are set to bring the festival to a close.


. . . Carriacou: Carriacou Maroon Music Festival

29 April to 1 May

In a world where everyone’s head is down in their smartphone or tablet, the Carriacou Maroon Music Festival brings new meaning to the word “community.” Back in the 1950s in Carriacou, a “maroon” was an occasion to help neighbours plant or harvest crops, or move house. Today, it’s a public picnic that focuses on culture-sharing, socialising — and, of course, food.

The festival, rich with African traditions, runs over the last weekend in April. Launched in 2001, it’s now held over three locations in Carriacou: Belair Park, Paradise Beach, and Hillsborough. Combining local and regional music groups and Grand Saraca (maroon food, which is traditionally cooked over a fireside), the festival begins on Friday at 6 am, with the blowing of the conch shell. On Saturday morning, Main Street, Hillsborough, comes alive with music, as string bands hold centre-stage. The fun then returns to Belair Park for drumming, and traditional Shakespeare mas. Sunday brings more of the same, but with dance, drama, an arts and craft exhibition, and music on Paradise Beach.

Event previews by Mirissa De Four


Make the most of March

SXMusic Festival
Venues around St Martin

An entire festival devoted to electronic music? That’s the promise of this debut fixture on the Caribbean’s culture scene, featuring dozens of musicians and DJs from around the world, performing in one of the region’s most sybaritic islands
9 to 13 March


Jazz Artists on the Greens
St Joseph, Trinidad

Dane Gulston and the Alexis Baro Quintet headline this year’s edition of the popular festival-style celebration of jazz, where patrons relax on picnic blankets and lounge chairs under the clouds, taking in the sounds of cool
12 March


Holders Season
Holders Hill, Barbados

The five-acre grounds of a seventeenth-century great house are the setting for Barbados’s annual festival of performance, with classical and Broadway music, jazz, theatre, and comedy all on the bill
9 to 19 March


Venues across the Caribbean

The Hindu spring festival — celebrated in Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, and other Caribbean countries with Hindu communities — is a spectacle of colour, music, and dance, as revellers abandon their cares and douse each other with coloured water and powder
23 March


New Fire Music Festival
Sandy Hill Nature Park, Freeport, Trinidad

T&T’s newest cultural festival makes its debut on Easter weekend, with a programme combining equal parts music and ecological awareness. A natural amphitheatre provides both a stage and an outdoor campsite, with yoga, inspirational talks, and family-friendly activities to close the holistic circle
26 and 27 March


Appetite for April


. . . when they grow up  . . .
The Studio Museum in Harlem, NYC

Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson’s accelerating career shifts into higher gear with a solo show at New York City’s famed Studio Museum, running through the spring season. Patterson brings her ornate signature style to bear on images of black youth, undermining the stereotypes that fuel violence and discrimination
24 March to 26 June


Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta
Sea around Antigua

Beautifully restored sailing vessels from around the world give this regatta its name, but there’s a place for new boats, too, alongside all the social occasions you’d expect at one of the Caribbean sailing season’s most popular gatherings
13 to 19 April


Tobago Jazz Experience
Pigeon Point Heritage Park

Over the years, the biggest event on Tobago’s music calendar has grown into something more than a festival, featuring more than jazz, with soca, salsa, R&B, and reggae flowing smoothly through the mix. Concerts, parties, and an unmissable lime attract thousands. This year’s headliner: Lauryn Hill
16 to 24 April


St Barth Film Festival
Venues around St Barth

In its twenty-first year, this celebration of Caribbean and French film combines elements of intimate hospitality with touches of luxury, and a carefully curated programme of new and classic films
25 to 30 April


NGC Bocas Lit Fest
Port of Spain, Trinidad

The Anglophone Caribbean’s biggest celebration of books and writers returns, with five days of readings, discussions, workshops, performances, films, and more. 2015 Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James will be the hottest ticket — that is, if you needed a ticket, which you don’t: events are free and open to all
27 April to 1 May