Caribbean Datebook (July/August 2016)

Events around the Caribbean in July and August, from a diving festival in Dominica to Carnival in St Lucia

  • The Moment Is Captured
  • Images Dominica
  • The Division of Tourism and Transportation
  • ©
  • National Art Gallery of the Bahamas
  • ©
  • Elisabeth Pollaert Smith/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images
  • Caribbean Hoop Fest

Don’t miss . . .

Antigua Carnival

22 July to 2 August

She’s a four-time Antigua and Barbuda Party Monarch, and Claudette Peters, the “Soca Diva”, will be back to defend last year’s title at Antigua Carnival 2016, a highlight of the island’s calendar. Like Carnivals across the Caribbean, Antigua’s comes loaded with fetes and concerts, culminating in Carnival Monday and Tuesday, 1 and 2 August, when the Antigua Recreation Ground, otherwise famous for cricket, is transformed into Carnival City.

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to V.C. Bird International Airport in Antigua from Trinidad, Jamaica, and Barbados, with connections to other destinations


If you’re in . . .

. . . Dominica: Dominica Dive Fest

8 to 17 July

Underwater volcanoes, swimming in volcanically heated springs, whale-watching, and coral reefs — it’s time to get those sea legs into a wetsuit. The longest running scuba festival in the Caribbean is back, and the Nature Isle of the Caribbean will be abuzz. Dive Fest Dominica was created to encourage locals to learn to scuba and discover ways to conserve the environment for future generations. Fast-forward twenty-two years, and thousands are flocking to Dominica to experience the island’s rich marine environment.

There goes a family of dolphins! Look, some sunken treasure! The Dominica Watersports Association has organised an action-packed list of fun activities on, off, and under the sea. Talks and slideshows on marine ecology will also be in the mix — making those underwater treasure hunts even more exciting. Show off your athleticism by taking part in swimming and kayak races. And on the last day of Dive Fest, all roads lead to Soufrière for the grand finale: the famous Kubuli Canoe Race.


. . . Tobago: Tobago Heritage Festival

15 July to 1 August

Children love to sit and listen to the older generation tell stories. And these stories get even better when they’re acted out. Each year communities in Tobago celebrate their history and heritage with a highly anticipated series of events. Goat and crab races, the Miss Heritage Personality Contest, folk tales, and the re-enactment of the Belmanna Riots are must dos. And nothing compares to the Moriah Ole Time Wedding, no invitation needed. Join the crowd on Bachelor Night as they do traditional dances, and hop to tambrin music — folk songs performed on fiddle and percussion.

The next day, help celebrate the couple’s union at the wedding procession. Playful taunting and jubilant shouts come from the spectators, as the gentlemen clad in traditional three-piece suits — accessorised with top hats and bow ties — escort the ladies attired in bustle dresses and wide-brimmed hats. To the sounds of tambrin, they eventually perform the traditional three-step “brush back” dance, demonstrating the ups and downs of life. At the reception hall, entertaining speeches are delivered to the delight of everyone present. It’s been said that the Heritage Festival is to Tobago what Carnival is to Trinidad — but don’t take our word for it. See for yourself!


. . . St Vincent and the Grenadines: Breadfruit Festival

1 to 31 August

Breadfruit is a gift that keeps on giving. While some Caribbean countries simply eat it roasted or fried, St Vincent hosts an entire festival featuring breadfruit’s gastronomic possibilities. The proclaimed connoisseurs and masters of the breadfruit, Vincentians boast of twenty-five different varieties. The introduction of breadfruit was so historically significant, it forms part of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ national dish: roast breadfruit and jackfish.

Originating in the South Pacific, breadfruit was brought to the island in 1793 by the English Captain William Bligh, more famous as the victim of the earlier mutiny on the HMS Bounty — a favourite Hollywood story. This “tree of life,” fast-growing and abundant, was intended as a cost-effective way to feed enslaved Africans on St Vincent’s plantations.

In remembrance of those ancestors and their resourcefulness, SVG celebrates a month-long breadfruit festival starting on Emancipation Day, 1 August. In addition to culinary events, you can look out for mini-exhibitions on potential uses of the tree, from lumber to medicine. Each weekend the festival visits a different community, so check the schedule to see when it’s coming your way.

Event previews by Shelly-Ann Inniss 


The joy of July

Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival
Roy Wilkins Park, Queens, New York City

Spice is wafting through the air . . . Calling all foodies, reggae fans, and culture enthusiasts: celebrate Jamaican cuisine at the sixth annual festival. And what better place than Jamaica, Queens?
17 July


Reggae Sumfest

Can’t get enough reggae? You’re in luck: more artistes than ever before will take the stage at Jamaica’s biggest music festival in Montego Bay
17 to 23 July


Lucian Carnival
St Lucia

Who’s ready for some Lucian bacchanal? Release your inhibitions at Monday morning J’Ouvert and the colourful Tuesday pageant
18 and 19 July


Nevis Culturama
Venues around Nevis

Still going strong in its forty-second year, Nevis’s annual festival expresses its traditional cultural heritage while embracing other Caribbean influences
21 July to 2 August


From Columbus to Junkanoo
National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, Nassau

A historical memoir created by thirty-five artists, highlighting the growth and development of the Bahamas. Runs through 2 October
runs through July and August


Awesome August


Spice Mas

Short Knees and Wild Indians will reconnect you with traditional mas, but if you’re feeling casual, just jump up in your t-shirt on Monday night
30 July to 9 August


Emancipation Day
Trinidad and Tobago

The streets will be alive with performances of freedom. Port of Spain’s landmark Queen’s Park Savannah plays host to the Emancipation Village, and the day ends with a flambeau procession
1 August


Biguine Jazz Festival
Saint-Pierre, Martinique

The union of jazz with French Antillean rhythms brings to life Creole jazz. It goes down smooth in the heart of picturesque Saint-Pierre.
11 to 14 August


Festival Internacional de Rap-Habana Hip Hop
Alamar, Havana, Cuba

Talented artistes from across Cuba and the globe converge on east Havana, hometown of local hip-hop stars Papa Humbertico and the Orishas
1 August


Caribbean Hoop Fest
Montego Bay, Jamaica

Youth from across the Caribbean meet their international peers for basketball, entertainment, and community outreach. Come and wave your country’s flag!
24 to 28 August

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.