Caribbean Beat Magazine

Datebook | Events calendar (Nov/Dec 2017)

Events around the Caribbean in November and December, from surfing in Barbados to Christmas celebrations across the region

  • Photo by Chris Anderson
  • Photo by Filip Fuxa/
  • Montserrat Tourism Division
  • Miami Book Fair
  • Photo courtesy Ghetto Bienniale
  • Photo courtesy Surf Promotions Barbados Ltd
  • Green Screen: The Environmental Film Festival
  • Photo by Wikipedant at Wikimedia Commons

Don’t miss . . .


26 December

Every year, in the midst of the Christmas carols, family gatherings, and holiday cheer, a masquerade festival gets under way in rural Jamaica. Jonkonnu (also spelled John Canoe, Jankunu, and Junkanoo) has roots in several cultural traditions first brought to Jamaica by enslaved Africans in past centuries. You may have heard of the Bahamas Junkanoo street parade, where thousands of masqueraders dress in costume and boogie in freestyle and choreographed dances along the parade route. The Jamaican version is distinctive. Traditional characters vary in each village, and are typically male masqueraders donning costumes and dancing to upbeat drum and flute rhythms. The agile and colourful Pitchy-Patchy, the taunting Devil with his striking pitchfork, and the pregnant and amusing Belly Woman, whose tummy jiggles to the music, are guaranteed to invoke a mixture of fear and excitement so beguiling it stops traffic.

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay from destinations in the Caribbean and North America


If you’re in . . .


Green Screen: The Environmental Film Festival
2 to 10 November
Venues around Trinidad

As single words, “survival” and “preservation” might be considered equivalent. But when circumstances become a tug-of-war between the fight for survival versus the need to protect and preserve resources, conflict ensues.

The Dominican Republic’s forests have been protected; meanwhile, in neighbouring Haiti, trees have been used as a crucial resource in charcoal production. Set on the border between the two countries, Death by a Thousand Cuts is expected to create vigorous discussions on the opening night of the Green Screen film festival. The no-holds-barred documentary thriller will strike chords with themes of xenophobia, human rights, deforestation, and poverty. Carver Bacchus, founder of Green Screen, says the essence of the festival lies in “the creative and sustainability sectors meeting, learning from each other, and collaborating to push both sectors forward in the region.” Perspectives on sustainability will be paramount this year, as the festival focuses on food and agriculture, indigenous and First People’s issues, women’s affairs, and social justice. Over fifty films will be screened, from shorts to feature-length narratives, from animation to documentaries.



Independence Pro-Surf Festival
9 to 12 November
Soup Bowl, Bathsheba

Clear skies, huge waves, good music, and lively vibes are key elements for a great day of surfing. As part of November’s Independence celebrations, the Barbados Surf Association presents the World Surf League–qualifying tournament in memory of Bill Thomson, one of Barbados’s pioneers in competitive surfing. The international surfing community also revered Thomson — especially eleven-time WSL champion Kelly Slater of the US, who referred to Thomson as his “surfer dad.”

With a reputation as the island’s top spot for advanced and professional surfers, the Soup Bowl is on Slater’s list of the top three waves anywhere. “The best surfers will rip one of the most high-performance waves in the world,” says Christopher Clarke, director of Surf Promotions Barbados. And what better way to remember Thomson’s legacy than to run the Barbados Junior Surf Pro within the festival? Coincidentally, it’s the final event in the 2017 WSL Junior Tour. Will reigning champion Che Allan of Barbados successfully defend his title?

So soak up the fun, sun, and good old Bajan rum on the windy east coast. And in between the action, take a dip in the reef pools. Surf’s up!


. . . HAITI

Ghetto Biennale
24 November to 18 December
Locations around Port-au-Prince

Reflections of the past and speculations about the future of Haiti’s capital city are constructed in three weeks of artistic expression. Two neighbourhoods known for craft production within Port-au-Prince — Lakou Cheri and Ghetto Leanne — will be the home of the 2017 edition of the Ghetto Biennale, hosted by the artists’ collective Atis Rezistans. Since 2009, the Biennale has welcomed artists from over twenty-five countries, including Germany, Sweden, Italy, the US, Malaysia, Japan, and several Caribbean nations. Though projects are often made in adverse conditions, a strong and vibrant spirit still effervesces.

This year’s theme, “A Cartography of Port-au-Prince”, captures the diversity and intricacies of the city through artists’ projects that map various aspects of cultural production: street life, religious heritage, mythologies, histories, architecture, and much more. The Ghetto Biennale aims to transform spaces, dialogues, and relationships considered impractical and ineffective into transcultural and creative platforms. They also attempt to “create a compelling portrait of a historically significant, and intensely complex, city influx.”


Nicely November


Caribbean Folk Dance Festival

Dance troupes from Guadeloupe, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, and Dominica join colleagues in Antigua for workshops and performances choreographed to indigenous music
9 to 12 November


Miami International Book Fair

Caribbean writers take centre stage at North America’s biggest literary festival — from former Jamaican poet laureate Mervyn Morris to exciting newcomers like T&T’s Aliyyah Eniath and Shivanee Ramlochan
12 to 19 November


Alliouagana Festival of the Word

The power of stories and the skill of their tellers unfold as renowned authors inspire, entertain, and connect cultures
16 to 19 November


Restaurant Week

Taste scrumptious flavours of Guyana’s diverse cuisines at participating restaurants
17 to 26 November


Dashing December


Run Barbados Marathon Weekend

Dust off your running shoes for the 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon events through the UNESCO World Heritage site of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison
1 to 3 December


Saint Nicolas Day

Christmas starts early, as children await the arrival of Sinterklaas by boat at the port of Oranjestad
5 December


St Kitts and Nevis Sugar Mas

An extravaganza of calypso, pageants, soca, street jamming, parades, and folklore presentations
15 December to 3 January


Nine Mornings Festival

St Vincent and the Grenadines
Vincentians awake in the early hours of the morning for fetes, bicycle riding, and street concerts
16 to 24



Barcode restaurant, Tobago
Celebrate Christmas with pork cooked fifteen ways, plus the best of Tobago entertainment.
24 December


Parang in Paramin

Parranderos sing good tidings of comfort and joy from house to house in the hilltop community north of Port of Spain
all December