Datebook | Caribbean Event Calendar (November/December 2016)

Events around the Caribbean in November and December, from the Bahamas International Film Festival to a celebration of ballet in Cuba

  • Enjoying the spectacle at the Barbados 50th Anniversary of Independence launch parade. Photo by Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc
  • Photo courtesy Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival
  • Photo courtesy Toronto Christmas Market
  • Photo by Erkki & Hanna/
  • Photo courtesy Organizacion Caballista Arubano
  • Photo courtesy Pirates Week Festival
  • Photo by John De La Bastide/
  • Photo by Butch & Allan Limchoy, courtesy The Marionettes Chorale
  • Photo by Dana.S/

Don’t miss . . .

Barbados Golden Jubilee

30 November

Artistry, pageantry, sheer celebratory fun — all of these are on the programme as Barbados celebrates its fiftieth anniversary of Independence in 2016. Throughout the year, iconic commemorative events have been unfolding on the island and wherever a Bajan diaspora can be found. The Golden Jubilee climaxes this month with events including the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA), a museum exhibition, the Prime Minister’s Dinner and Ball, an Independence Day Parade, a Mega Concert, and the grand reveal of a 50th Anniversary of Independence Monument.

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados from destinations in the Caribbean and North America


If you’re in . . .


Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival
Kim Sha Beach, Simpson Bay
3 to 5 November

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of — you know what. Fancy a tour of the Caribbean? You can do it with rum at the sixth annual Caribbean Rum and Beer Festival, back in Sint Maarten this year. No need to be an alcohol drinker to enjoy it: there’s also plenty of entertainment, especially during the blind tasting competitions. The “best in class” rum and beer tasters will be judged by reputable rum and beer panels from the Ministry of Rum, the International Rum Council, and other expert bodies.

This boutique-style festival was previously held in Barbados and Grenada also. Hosted in an intimate, outdoor setting, it offers sumptuous culinary demonstrations of cooking with rum and beer, and is dominated by a series of spirited events, including chocolate-, rum-, and beer-pairing seminars (inclusive of tasting).

Cocktails, anyone? The Caribbean is the best place to learn the art of rum mixology. Each day, talented bartenders will create an assortment of exotic rum cocktails in front of a live audience at the Rum Cocktail Wars — an absolute crowd favourite. And there’s free access to sample over a hundred different rums and beers.



Christmas Market
16 November to 26 December
The Distillery Historic District

Unique craftsmen, artisans, and vendors are all here, but this isn’t just a typical market. It’s a street festival aimed at celebrating the romance and tradition of Christmas, with carolling, dancing, Christmas plays, and other performances to awaken your inner child. There’s even mistletoe for that special moment. Ranked in the top ten holiday markets in the world, the Toronto Christmas Market beckons in festivities, culture — and architecture. The Distillery District is the largest collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America, lending your Yuletide some back-in-times flavour.


Cavalcade of Lights
26 November
Nathan Phillips Square

Toronto Christmas becomes official with the lighting of a sixty-foot tree. Usually a white spruce, selected a full year in advance, it takes about two weeks to be completely decorated. Sparkling with over half a million lights, and accessorised with seven hundred individual ornaments, this tree has been a tradition for forty-seven years. A spectacular fireworks show, live music, and a skating party will complete the night.



Downtown Nassau
26 December and 1 January

“Who are we? De Valley!” shout the Valley Boys. Other groups call to each other as well in friendly rivalry — faithful Saxons, Congos, Fancy Dancers, and others, as the parade “rushes” along the Nassau Junkanoo route.

The atmosphere at the traditional year-end masquerade is unforgettable. Starting at approximately midnight on Boxing Day, the streets vibrate to various beats and rhythms of drums, cowbells, whistles, and wind instruments. The instrumental style of music and structured choreography are unlike any other Caribbean masquerade festival. And the special choreography of each group keeps the onlookers entertained and moving.

Thousands parade the streets in extravagantly decorated costumes made from crêpe paper and cardboard. Vibrant floats are also a huge attraction in the energetic parade. The “rush” is contagious, and it all happens again in the early hours of New Year’s Day a week later.

Event previews by Shelly-Ann Inniss


Nonstop November 


International Ballet Festival
Great Theatre, Havana, Cuba

Cuba’s biennial ballet festival draws global showstoppers of the classical dance style, from the American Ballet Theatre to the London Royal Ballet and the Scala de Milan
1 to 5 November


Rancho Villa Floralina, Aruba

Paso fino horses take centre stage in an exciting celebration of equestrian traditions
4 to 6 November


Pirates Week Festival
Venues around the Cayman Islands

Celebrate the pirate legends and cultural heritage of the islands with mock “invasions,” street dances, underwater treasure hunts, a landing pageant, and more
10 to 20 November


NGC Bocas Lit Fest South
San Fernando Hill, Trinidad

Readers and writers from Trinidad and Tobago and around the world assemble for readings, discussions, workshops, and an energetic spoken-word poetry showcase
12 and 13 November


Moods of Pan Festival
Dean William Lake Cultural Centre, Antigua

Mesmerising beats of the steel pan fuse the young, old, and the in-between, from countries far and wide
26 to 27 November


December drama

Bahamas International Film Festival

Film lovers, filmmakers, and A-list celebrities such as Lee Daniels and Sean Connery celebrate the art of cinema in the Bahamian capital
5 to 11 December


St Nicholas Day
Aruba, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Curaçao

Shoes will be filled with candy and treats when St Nicholas (or Sinterklaas) and his zwarte pieten (helpers) pay their annual visit, arriving by white horse or by boat
5 and 6 December


Christmas with the Marionettes
Queen’s Hall, Port of Spain, Trinidad

The spirit of love, peace, and thanksgiving will prevail with heart-warming performances by T&T’s celebrated Marionettes Chorale
8 to 11 December


Carriacou Parang Festival
Venues around Carriacou

Swing to unique parang melodies, play Parang Money Bingo, and cheer and dance with the bands on competition night
16 to 18 December


New Year’s Eve
Foxy’s Beach Bar, Jost van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

There are thousands of New Year’s Eve parties across the Caribbean, but this one is legendary. Dance the night away, and watch the eruption of fireworks at the midnight hour. Ten, nine, eight, seven . . .
31 December

Funding provided by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme Direct Support Grants Programme.
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