Don’t miss . . .
Tiny deyas twinkle in the night. Their small rays bring hope and positivity, as Mother Lakshmi, the goddess of light and prosperity, is venerated and celebrated. It’s Diwali — also known as Deepavali and Divali in other parts of the world — the Hindu festival of light. In Guyana, families come together, saying prayers in front of the Lakshmi murti before illuminating the first deya. Sweets are shared as a form of goodwill, and rangoli — intricate artworks made from coloured rice, sand, or powder — are designed on the floor. Don’t miss the motorcade held by the Guyana Hindu Sabha, where impressive illuminated floats pass through the streets to the sounds of tassa drums, bhajans, and other songs. Temples across the country also compete to win the award for the best lit and decorated float. And everyone is welcome. Of course, Diwali is also celebrated in Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and other Caribbean countries with Hindu communities.
How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana, Piarco International Airport in Trinidad, and Johann Pengel International Airport in Suriname from destinations in the Caribbean and North America
If you’re in . . .
. . . NEW YORK CITY
Labour Day West Indian Carnival
Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn
It doesn’t matter how far you roam, elements of home inevitably bubble inside you. In New York City, the first Caribbean Carnival was held in the streets of Harlem in the 1940s. If you guessed it was organised by a Trinidadian, you’re right. Later on came the annual West Indian Carnival in the home of the Caribbean’s North American diaspora: Brooklyn. Its legacy has continued for fifty years, with an ever-growing turnout on Eastern Parkway.
Over two million participants combine their voices and waistlines, singing and jamming to top soca hits. Don’t be surprised to see seniors wining down low, commemorating the milestone and paying homage to their heritage. And the work of the West Indian Carnival Association goes beyond the magnificent parade: it also presents college scholarships and organises cultural workshops and networking events.
Five treasured days of festivities lead up to the finale. Music trucks, food, and colourful costumes fill the parkway. Be sure to indulge in the gastronomic treats from almost every island in the Caribbean. And don’t forget your flag and earplugs!
. . . TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Patrons of Queen’s Hall Honour Performance
Queen’s Hall, Port of Spain
Music is like food. It provides sustenance, changes moods, and allows us to travel to places we’ve never been. It digs deep, touching parts of the soul not easily accessed. The marriage of beautiful melodies to well-crafted lyrics inspires, heightens consciousness, and enables many a reverie. Music is art. And art is power.
Over the years, rapso groups 3Canal and musical arranger Pelham Goddard have created musical landmarks in their homeland, Trinidad and Tobago. In 1997, 3Canal made a pivotal turn in Trinidad’s Carnival music with their hit song “Blue”. In 1999, “Talk Yuh Talk” became “an anthem for the dispossessed and voiceless.” Meanwhile, Goddard’s repertoire includes over thirteen Road March songs, leading to wins for David Rudder, Calypso Rose, and Superblue. Now these outstanding careers are being celebrated at the Patrons of Queen’s Hall 2017 Honour Performance.
The Patrons are an NGO promoting the development of theatre arts in T&T. The proceeds from the event go towards recognising artistes and artistic events in the country’s theatrical history. So this is more more than just a show: it’s about the preservation of legacies.
. . . DOMINICA
Have you heard of the festival that never sleeps? Dominica, the otherwise quiet nature-rich isle in the north Leewards, annually attracts over ten thousand people to its World Creole Music Festival, the highlight of International Creole Month every October.
At the heart of Dominica’s culture is its French-based Creole language, widely spoken. The World Creole Music Festival showcases Dominica’s heritage with a strong focus on fusions of other genres with Creole forms. Kompa from Haiti, zouk from Guadeloupe and Martinique, soukous from West Africa, zydeco from Louisiana, and Dominica’s own bouyon will blend with soca, calypso, dancehall, and other popular genres.
This year, for three pulsating nights, the star-studded performers will include the Zouk All Stars, singer Orlane from Réunion in the Indian Ocean, Francky Vincent from Guadeloupe, Stéphane Ravor from Martinique, and Bunji Garlin and Fay-Ann Lyons from T&T. Even if you’ve never uttered a word of Creole, you’ll leave with an enhanced vocabulary — who knows, you might even be able to recite the chorus of a song.
. . . SURINAME
Venues around Suriname
With its mix of ancestries and languages from four continents, Suriname may be the most ethnically diverse country in the Caribbean region. In this complicated spectrum of heritages, Suriname’s Maroons stand out, for their historical resilience as much as their rich, visually distinctive culture.
As elsewhere in the Caribbean, the name “Maroon” signifies the descendants of enslaved Africans who managed to escape plantation bondage, finding refuge in remote regions of Suriname’s interior. In 1760, unable to subjugate the Maroons despite the advantage of superior numbers and weaponry, the Dutch colonial authorities signed a peace treaty granting the Maroons autonomy.
Over generations, they formed communities adapted to life in the forest, where numerous rivers serve as highways for trade and, when necessary, escape routes. Drawing on memory of their ancestral life in west and central Africa, and learning from the survival techniques of Suriname’s indigenous peoples, the Maroons evolved into a series of independent tribes, like the Saramaca, the Ndjuka, and the Kwinti. Today, they make up almost a fifth of the country’s population.
After Independence from the Netherlands in 1975, and even through the brutal days of the Surinamese civil war in the 1980s and 90s, the Maroons maintained a strong sense of identity and devotion to their way of life. Official recognition of their importance in Suriname’s history and development came as recently as 2011, when the first Maroon Day was recognised as a national public holiday.
Maroon Day is an opportunity to contemplate the resourcefulness and courage of those ancestors who took freedom in their own hands, and to celebrate Maroon art — especially renowned for textiles and wood-carving — as well as music, dance, and food. And the rest of the year, one of the best places to experience Maroon culture is the town of Moengo, which — under the leadership of Ndjuka artist Marcel Pinas — has become a creative epicentre, with everything from a sculpture park to a school of performing arts.
Antigua Warriors Cup International Soccer Tournament
Upcoming young football stars take to the field as they compete for the coveted trophy
27 August to 10 September
Toronto International Film Festival
TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto
Film-lovers enjoy premieres and screenings of some of the year’s best films from around the world
7 to 17 September
Sunset Jazz in Frederiksted
St Croix, US Virgin Islands
Unwind to various forms of jazz against a backdrop of palm trees, playful waves, golden sand, and a gorgeous sunset
trinidad+tobago film festival
Venues around Trinidad & Tobago
Films from and about the Caribbean and its diaspora, as well as from world cinema
19 to 26 September
Venues around Curaçao
Rainbow flags fly high along Queen Emma Bridge, embracing five days of non-stop celebration by the LGBT community
27 September to 1 October
Obsessed with October
Venues around Miami
The Miami heat gets kicked up a notch with J’Ouvert, pan competitions, and parades to rival other Caribbean Carnivals
Pure Grenada Dive Fest
Grenada and Carriacou
Ready to take the plunge? Free beach dives, underwater photography competitions, and a day exploring the wrecks are some of the adventures on offer
11 to 14 October
Festival of Speed
Bushy Park, Barbados
Fuel your need for speed in a vibrant atmosphere with vehicles from around the world, stuntmen, Formula One World Champion Driver Jenson Button, and a spectacular show of twister aerobatics
Jamaica Food and Drink Festival
Venues around Kingston
Enlighten your senses with culinary mastery and tasteful vibes at this highly anticipated — and delicious — affair
21 to 29 October
Carriacou Corn Festival
Footprints Behind the Sand resort
Roast corn, corn soup, and corn bread are usual suspects. Discover lots more scrumptious possibilities of the locally grown staple