Caribbean Beat Magazine

Need to know | Events calendar (Nov/Dec 2018)

Essential info to help you make the most of November and December across the Caribbean

  • The celebration of Las Parrandas de Remedios nears its dramatic climax. Photo by Stephen Smith/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Preparing the  garland of firecrackers at Paramaribo’s Owru Yari. Photo by Jason Rothe/Alamy Stock Photo
  • In the heat of Nassau’s Junkanoo rush. Photo courtesy Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
  • Makatau Petroglyph Trail. Photo courtesy Esther Sam
  • Karasabai. Photo ponsulak/
  • Dadanawa Ranch. Photo by Nicholas Laughlin
  • Photo by Splingis/
  • What We Carry II (2018, charcoal, graphite, pastel, and acrylic on paper, 9 x 5 feet), by Heino Schmid. Image courtesy the artist
  • Maurice and Barracuda (2018, digital photography), by Melissa Alcena. Image courtesy the artist
  • Power Girl (Queen Versus Queen) (2018, “African” Chinese wax fabric, hand sewn into laser canvas prints with hanging counterfeit Chinese pearls and Asante/Ashanti handmade beads from Kumasi, Ghana), by April Bey. Image courtesy the artist
  • Merissa Aguilleira on the field. Photo by Mark Nolan —CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images
  • The victorious West Indies team at the 2016 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 tournament. Photo by Indranal Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images
  • From left to right: Kevinia Francis, Samara Emmanuel, Christal Clashing, Junella King, and Elvira Bell — the Team Antigua Island Girls. Photo courtesy Team Antigua Island Girls
  • Photo by Amanda Richards
  • Photo courtesy Green Screen Film Festival
  • Photo courtesy Cayman Pirates Week Festival Office

Great Outdoors: Rowing for a cause

Since 1997, the annual Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge has begun in the Canary Islands and finished in Antigua. Yet until 2015 there had never been a Caribbean team attempting the row, considered one of the toughest races in the world, in which individuals or teams of up to five people row across the Atlantic in a tiny boat. It sounds crazy, but it raises thousands of dollars for charity each year (each team competes for their favourite).

In late 2015 and early 2016, the entire country of Antigua and Barbuda watched in amazement as pioneering Team Wadadli made their way across the Atlantic. Inspired by these dauntless men, two years later another Antiguan team came a close second to the fastest finishers in race history, completing the race in only thirty days on 13 January, 2018. The next challenge? An all-female team, currently training for this year’s race (which begins in early December).

Team Antigua Island Girls includes Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing, Samara Emmanuel, Kevinia Francis, and Junella King. Four of them will actually compete. They’ve set their sights on being the top female contenders, and are planning to be among the top five finishers overall. 

Elvira Bell has been a natural athlete all her life. The thirty-six-year-old is a keen swimmer, martial artist, and certified health coach. By day she’s a flight dispatcher, and at first she wasn’t specially keen on taking up this particular challenge, but no became yes after her best friend Kevinia Francis insisted they join.

Francis, for her part, has been imagining an all-female crew since the original Team Wadadli competed. “This challenge epitomises all that I live for in one go: sports, travel, competition, country, charity, new experiences, and creating memories,” says the forty-year-old.

Meanwhile, Samara Emmanuel was the first Antiguan woman to become an RYA-certified yacht captain, and at thirty-two, she has more than a dozen years’ seafaring experience. Emmanuel has a passion for the water — as does Christal Clashing, who made history in 2004 as the first female swimmer to represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Olympics. Now twenty-eight, and a travel writer, she was excited to join the women’s team after being inspired years ago by the journey of the canoe Gli-Gli through the Caribbean.

And the youngest member of the team, Junella King, is only seventeen. A keen sailor, she juggles sports and schoolwork, and her interest in the race was inspired when Team Wadadli, post-race, visited her school. 

The team are rowing for the charity Cottage of Hope, a home where girls from newborn to age eighteen can find a safe, secure, and stable place to live when their family lives are unsuitable. It’s as good a reason as any for these intrepid young women to undertake the adventure of a lifetime.

Bridget van Dongen

To support the Team Antigua Island Girls in their journey, visit


More highlights of November and December across the Caribbean

Green Screen Film Festival, Trinidad

31 October to 3 November
If our islands become uninhabitable because of climate change, where will we go? Green Screen 2018 opens with the “compelling and visually sumptuous” documentary Anote’s Ark, set in Kiribati. The Pacific island nation is one of the most remote places on the planet, confronted with the prospect of imminent obliteration from sea level rise.

Pirates Week Festival, Cayman Islands

2 to 18 November
The party begins in Cayman Brac from 2 to 4 November with a bonfire, heritage displays, parade, and fireworks. The festivities then move to Grand Cayman (8 to 12 November), with fun-filled days of food festivals and a “Pirate Pooch Parade.” On 10 November, pirates will “invade” the islands, “attacking” from the sea at Hog Sty Bay in George Town Harbour. Traditionally, the governor is “captured” and the pirates “run amok” before being cast off again for another year.

New York City Marathon

4 November
Adrenaline pumps through first-time and seasoned runners aiming to complete the 26.2-mile journey at one of the world’s most celebrated marathon events, making its way through all five boroughs of the Big Apple.


6 and 7 November 
Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname
Houses are adorned with lanterns and deyas as the festival of light is celebrated by Hindu communities. Divali symbolises light over darkness, and good over evil, as believers venerate Lakshmi, deity of prosperity and good fortune.

St Kitts Sugar Mas 

15 November to 5 January
St Kitts celebrates Christmas in Carnival style. The lead-up to the Grand Parade includes spectacular parties, infectious calypso music, and performances of all kinds — a season of sweetness. 

Cavalcade of Lights, Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto

24 November
Over 525,000 glistening LED lights illuminate Toronto’s giant Christmas tree, bringing festive cheer to onlookers. Live musical performances, a spectacular fireworks show, and skating parties mark the start of Toronto’s holiday season.

Nine Mornings Festival, St Vincent and the Grenadines

In the wee hours of the nine mornings leading up to Christmas, fetes, street concerts, and steelband jump-ups bring joy to all around SVG.