Caribbean Datebook (September/October 2016)

Events around the Caribbean in September and October, from Indigenous Heritage Month in Guyana to Dominica’s World Creole Music Festival

  • Photo by Mark Lyndersay
  • Photo courtesy Samurai Restaurant, Trinidad
  • Still from Pieta. Courtesy Melanie Grant
  • Photo by Aarti Gosine
  • Destruction of Port Royal (oil paint on hardboard, c. 1975), by Carl Abrahams. Pictures courtesy National Gallery of Jamaica
  • Star Boy (bronze, 1972), by Kay Sullivan. Pictures courtesy National Gallery of Jamaica
  • Devon House (mixed media on hardboard, 1979), by Sidney McLaren. Pictures courtesy National Gallery of Jamaica
  • State Visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip to Jamaica (oil paint on hardboard, 1953), by Michael Lester. Pictures courtesy National Gallery of Jamaica
  • Photo by Sean Pavone/
  • Photo courtesy Shakespeare In Paradise
  • Photo by Bildagentur Zoonar Gmbh/
  • Photo by Iris Kürschner/ Imagebroker/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Photo courtesy Coco Dance Festival

Don’t miss . . .



A folk theatre dramatisation of the ancient Ramayana, the Ramleela (or Ramlila) is a tradition brought to the Caribbean from India in the nineteenth century, and still flourishing among the Hindu communities of Trinidad, Guyana, and Suriname. The re-enactment of the life of the god Rama — admired for his courage, devotion, love, and compassion — is performed by amateur volunteers in the weeks and days leading to Divali. It culminates spectacularly with the burning of a giant effigy of the demon king Ravana, symbolising the ultimate victory of good over evil.

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to Piarco International Airport in Trinidad, Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana, and Johann Pengel International Airport in Suriname from destinations in the Caribbean and North America


If you’re in . . .


Restaurant Week
27 August to 3 September, Barbados
16 to 25 September, Trinidad and Tobago
1 to 31 October, Cayman Islands
3 to 16 October, Aruba

Earth, wind, fire, water — and some good food — are the basic elements. Always wanted to go to a fine dining restaurant, but couldn’t afford it? Or maybe you’d just like to try something new? Several Caribbean countries offer an annual Restaurant Week, the perfect opportunity. Special prices, local and international cuisine, a glass of wine — you can’t go wrong.

So get ready to taste the cuisine of top chefs in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, the Cayman Islands, and Aruba. Revel in decadent flavours at participating restaurants, with menus prepared specially for you.

Some tips to help you get the most out of the week: menus of participating restaurants are typically available in advance, so view them before you go. Reservations are needed to secure your table, so call as early as you can. If a place you wanted to try is booked up, leave your name on the list, just in case there’s a cancellation. You might get lucky!

And remember: “One cannot think well, love well, or sleep well, if one has not dined well,” as Virginia Woolf aptly put it.



CaribbeanTales International Film Festival
7 to 17 September 

“Caribbean Love” is in the air — and on screen at the CaribbeanTales Film Festival, known for its annual feisty blend of Caribbean and Canadian films. This year’s programme of nine feature-length and seventeen short films will be screened in amorous categories like LGBT Love, Revolutionary Love, #BlackLoveMatters, Love Thy Neighbour, and Animated Love.

Founder Frances-Anne Solomon and her team assemble a compelling, entertaining, and thought-provoking line-up — including highlights like Pieta (2015), a short film by Barbadian Melanie Grant, examining the relationship between a dying mother, her estranged daughter, her nurse, and the huge secret that keeps them all apart. Or The Legacy Project, a series of documentaries highlighting the work of six black Canadian activists, and the way life-changing events alter your worldview.

And the festival is more than screenings. It also includes the CaribbeanTales Incubator Programme, aimed at helping emerging filmmakers develop strong projects for the global market. Who knows, the next major talent in the world of cinema may come from the Caribbean — or the CaribbeanTales Film Festival.



10 to 13 October

You can hear the tassa drums long before you see them. The tempo lures throngs of people into the streets of communities like St James, in western Port of Spain, and Cedros, in the far south. But the main attraction isn’t the music. It’s the beautifully decorated tadjahs, memorialising the death of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandsons.

Hosay is a Shia Muslim observance — known in other parts of the world as Ashura — commemorated in Trinidad since the nineteenth century, adapted to local circumstances. It begins with Flag Night — a procession of floats bearing multicoloured flags. The second night is Little Hosay, when miniature tadjahs representing the burial place of Hussein are carried through the streets. On Big Hosay night the full-size tadjahs appear, accompanied by dancing “moons.” Heavy effigies spun on the shoulders of strong-bodied men, the two moons, green and red, represent Hassan, killed by poison and Hussein, martyred by the sword. The following day, the tadjahs are carried back to their yards at sunset, to a frenzy of drumming. Finally, at a signal from the leader, the drums suddenly go silent.

Event previews by Shelly-Ann Inniss



Kingston: The City and Art
National Gallery of Jamaica
31 July to 30 October

“The city of Kingston is, in many ways, the crucible in which modern Jamaican culture is forged,” writes Veerle Poupeye, executive director of the National Gallery of Jamaica — a major cultural institution itself based in the capital city. That simple but complicated idea of Kingston as a creative matrix is the subject of the NGJ’s latest major exhibition, curated by Monique Barnett-Davidson and drawing on the gallery’s deep collections of Jamaican art. Here are landscapes and photographs recording the city’s physical and imaginative topography, portraits of anonymous citizens from a span of two centuries, art objects made from natural materials found in and around Kingston Harbour — also depictions of music, masquerade, and religion, street murals memorialising folk heroes, and more. If the variety of works seems bewildering at first, that’s only appropriate for a theme so expansive and a city so boisterous. And if the most grandiloquent visions of the city’s past and present stand out first — like the late Carl Abrahams’ version of the Destruction of Port Royal — quieter gestures await your observation, like Kay Sullivan’s delightful little sculpture Star Boy. He’s a jaunty rendering in bronze of a skinny adolescent, schoolbook tucked under his arm, backchat in his mouth. He’s the young prince of Kingston, as far as he’s concerned, and you can’t bear to begrudge him the title.


Sensational September

St Vincent and the Grenadines Dance Festival
Venues around SVG

Free your mind and let the rhythm guide your body, at performances and workshops hosted by professional dance companies, schools, and community groups
1 to 30 September

Indigenous Heritage Month

Indigenous Amerindian culture, cuisine, craft, and more are showcased in the Heritage Village, with grand celebrations on 10 September, Heritage Day
1 to 30 September

Nevis Marathon

Turn up the pace in marathon, half- marathon, 10K, and 5K events, in the peaceful, picturesque jewel called Nevis
8 and 10 September, separate days

Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival
Renaissance Festival Plaza, Aruba

Feel the vibes of jazz, Latin, soul, salsa, hip-hop, and blues, performed by Grammy-winning artistes, local and international talent, under the palm trees
23 to 24 September

Shakespeare in Paradise Theatre Festival
Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts, Nassau, Bahamas

A celebration of theatre in all forms, with the place of honour reserved for Shakespeare and, this year, Bahamian playwright Winston Saunders
25 September to 8 October


Outstanding October

Bonaire Regatta
Around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire

Beach, food, waves, parties, sports, and a kids’ playground — and let’s not forget the sailing!
13 to 15 October

National Warri Festival
Venues around Antigua

The champions of Antigua and Barbuda’s traditional national game compete in a month-long festival. Why not try your hand too?
1 to 31 October

Blue Food Festival
Bloody Bay Recreation Ground, Tobago

Dasheen — a popular root vegetable with a bluish hue — is the star of this food festival, featuring unlikely dishes and delicacies, like dasheen wine, dasheen lasagna, even dasheen fudge
16 October

World Creole Music Festival
Windsor Park Stadium, Dominica

The Nature Island’s signature musical event is back with an even stronger beat — look out for international stars like Wyclef Jean and Akon, alongside local favourite Michele Henderson
28 to 30 October

COCO Dance Festival
Venues around Port of Spain, Trinidad

Escape into the artistic expression of contemporary choreography with some of T&T’s most innovative dance talent
28 to 30 October


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.