Caribbean Beat Magazine

Datebook | Caribbean Events Calendar (May/June 2017)

Events around the Caribbean in May and June, from the Timehri Film Festival in Guyana to Dominica’s Hike Fest

  • Photo courtesy St Lucia Summer Festival
  • Photo courtesy Timehri Film Festival
  • Photo by Pawel Kazmierczak/
  • Photo by Amanda Richards
  • Photo by Kendra Nielsen/
  • Horus2017/
  • Photo courtesy Barbados Association of Flower Arrangers

Don’t miss . . .

Fiesta de San Juan

24 to 27 June
Trinidad, Cuba

Caribbean festivals usually mean love, partying, and a salutation to culture. In Cuba, the Fiesta de San Juan, falling in the traditional season of midsummer, is most popular in the city of Trinidad. With origins in Spain, the celebrations include a cavalcade of horses and cowboys and a coronation ceremony for “the Queen and the Ladies.” Look out too for traditional music and dancing, plus plenty food and rum.

How to get there? Look out for news about future Caribbean Airlines flights to José Martí International Airport in Havana


If you’re in . . .

. . . ST LUCIA

Soleil: St Lucia Summer Festival
12 May to 29 October
Venues around St Lucia

For decades, St Lucia Jazz has been one of the major music events in the Caribbean, running for ten to fourteen days in May. But why should the fun stop there? In 2017, St Lucia’s answer is a brand-new summer programme of six different festivals.

It begins on Mother’s Day weekend, 12 to 14 May, as the iconic Jazz Festival raises the temperature with a programme starring local, Caribbean, and international artistes. Trinidadian kaiso king David Rudder and American pan maestro Andy Narell kick things off, alongside performances by singer and actress Vanessa Williams, the Malavoi creole jazz band from Martinique, and Cuban Latin jazz artiste Richard Bona.

After you tap to the jazz, you can groove at the soul station at the Roots and Soul Festival from 16 to18 June; pump and wine at St Lucia Carnival from 14 to18 July; indulge your tastebuds at the Food and Rum Festival, 24 to 27 August; then top up in the freedom of sound at the Country and Blues Festival from 15 to 17 September. The cool-down session comes on 28 and 29 October, at the Arts and Heritage Festival. As St Lucian soca star Teddyson John sings, “Come on everybody, allez, allez, allez, allez!


. . . GUYANA

Timehri Film Festival
31 May to 4 June
Moray House, Georgetown, and other locations

Sample the talent on and behind the big screen in one of the Caribbean’s most nature-rich countries. Now in its second year, the Timehri Film Festival — named for Guyana’s indigenous rock paintings — draws work from Guyanese and Caribbean filmmakers, including the diaspora. The line-up includes feature films and documentaries that not only highlight the Guyanese landscape, history, and culture, but also incorporate elements of nearby Trinidad and Tobago’s Green Screen environmental film festival.

“Many of the great films being made in the Caribbean aren’t being seen by Guyanese audiences,” says TFF director Romola Lucas. Consequently, Lucas’s team created the festival to fill that void and encourage the growth of film as an artform in Guyana.

Expanding to work with the Green Screen Festival is more than just a talk-shop partnership. “With climate change already impacting us, all communities must become better informed, and empowered, to make decisions about their future,” says Green Screen founder Carver Bacchus. Unity towards film arts and a healthier environment aims to strike a balance as we see ourselves, our culture and experiences, on the cinema screen.



Maroon Festival
Three days before or after the full moon in June
Ashton and Clifton, Union Island

It’s said that if you keep the ancestors in mind, they will bless you throughout time. And on Union Island in the Grenadines, keeping the spirit of the Maroon ancestors alive is at the centre of this annual festival. “Maroon” is a form of giving thanks, and the festival is held to pray for rain with hopes of starting the planting season. It’s also a practice of acknowledging the forefathers through harvest rituals transported from West Africa and continued down the generations.

During the day, Union Island residents sacrifice food as an offering, cooked using a heating base of three big rocks and firewood. And at night, traditional African dances are expressed through choreography known as the Big Drum Dance. It includes the distinctive Nation, Bongay, Cheerup, Calendar, Alleh, and Ladderis dances. Shakes of the maracas, songs in patois, and chants reminiscent of all ancestors like the Yoruba and Congo boost the drumming. Some traditions fade with time, while others are here to stay. Listen for the blowing of the conch shell. This signals the beginning.

Event previews by Shelly-Ann Inniss


Magical May


Indian Arrival Day

Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago
Commemorate the start of indentured Indian immigration to the Caribbean, which enriched the region’s history and culture — on 5 May in Guyana, 30 May in T&T


Hike Fest

The first three Saturdays of the month are reserved for trekking through the rainforests, hiking trails, and other rugged sites of the Nature Isle
6, 13 and 20 May


International Sea-to-Sea Marathon

Run a full marathon, a half marathon, 5K or 10K through the world’s oldest legally protected rainforest, from Tobago’s Caribbean coastline to the Atlantic
20 May


Lamentin Jazz Project

Come for jam sessions, workshops, concerts, forums, and special discoveries in a musical atmosphere where harmony reigns
29 May to 4 June


Jazzy June



Soca, reggae, and calypso lovers jam in a festive atmosphere on the picturesque beach-fringed island
1 to 4 June


St Martin Book Fair

Venues around Sint Maarten and St-Martin
The Caribbean’s most multilingual literature celebration is back with three days of readings, discussions, and performances in English, Dutch, and French
1 to 3 June


Pineapple Festival

Eleuthera and Harbour Island, Bahamas
It’s a traditional symbol of welcome — celebrate pineapple heritage with the plaiting of the pineapple pole, old time pineapple sports, and an eclectic range of pineapple-themed activities
1 to 5 June


Flowers in Paradise

Expect an extravaganza of blossoms at this World Association of Floral Artists (WAFA) event, showcased for the third year in Barbados
18 to 25 June


Fisherman’s Birthday Celebration

Gouyave, Grenada
Local street food, especially tasty and unusual fish dishes, takes precedence, but don’t forget the music and other entertainment
29 June