Event buzz (Jan/Feb 2024)

Essential info about what’s happening across the region in January and February — including myriad carnival celebrations

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Let’s get festive!

Commemorate the signing of the Peace Treaty between the British and the Maroons at the Accompong Maroon Festival (6 January) in Jamaica. Coinciding with the infamous Captain Cudjoe’s birthday, Maroon descendants honour him and their ancestors under the sacred and symbolic Kindah Tree. And in true Jamaican style, a sound system party ends the day.

Traditionally, Christmas ends on the 12th day of Christmas (6 January). But in Venezuela, Cuba, and some other Caribbean countries, it marks Three Kings Day — the “second Christmas”, with family dinners, gifts, and parades as the three wise men are honoured.

Immerse yourself in art, poetry, and history tours in recognition of St Lucia’s Nobel Laureates Sir Derek Walcott and Sir Arthur Lewis at St Lucia’s Nobel Laureate Festival (7–31 January).

Soak in the lively atmosphere and indulge in all the flavourful fare at Cayman Cookout (10–14 January). Then enjoy delectable culinary wonders along with live music and comedy at the KAABOO Music Festival (15 February).

Miami’s Art Deco Weekend (12–14 January) overflows with free activities and events such as guided architectural tours, films, artisan markets, a classic car show and musical entertainment — all showcasing and preserving the Art Deco District and culture of Miami Beach.

Calling all regatta lovers, seasoned sailors, and newbies! A great time on or off the boats awaits at Barbados Sailing Week (13–24 January), the Round Barbados Race (21 January), Grenada Sailing Week (28 January–2 February), the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua (19 February), and St Maarten Heineken Regatta (29 February–3 March).

Rebel Salute (19–20 January) pays homage to reggae and the genre’s legend, Tony Rebel, a couple weeks before the start of Jamaica’s Reggae Month in February. Free concerts, workshops, and music conferences are hallmarks of the month-long festivities. And if you’re in South Florida, the inaugural Reggae Genealogy Concert (10 February) blends entertainment and education in a historical retrospective and concert.

After last year’s Grand Slam 53, Grenada’s Spice Island Billfish Tournament (22–26 January) returns, offering anglers myriad memorable experiences … and chances to earn bragging rights!

Bequia Music Festival (24–28 January) welcomes everyone to groove along to all genres of music performed by the hottest local, regional, and international artists.

Get your blues fix with old- and newcomers blasting out hits as the sun goes down at the Mustique Blues Festival (24 January–7 February).

Enjoy book and poetry readings, art exhibitions, and evening concerts at the Havana International Book Fair (8–18 February). The Royal Fortress of La Cabaña and The Fortress of El Morro are the main venues.

The “year of the dragon” is upon us! Suriname rings in the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival (10 February) with fireworks, reunion feasts, parades, and the famous lion dance.

The stage of New York Fashion Week (9–11 February) is set to dazzle even more with Steelpan & Carnival on D Runway (10 February) — a dynamic fashion showcase and tribute to Trinidad & Tobago’s culture and diversity hosted by the Fashion Life Tour and produced by Minnesota-based Trinidadian Jolanta Kissoon.

For one week in mid-February, the Barbados Holetown Festival presents nightly concerts, Holetown bus tours, a street fair and parade, a Bajan Carnival, and more.

Even when the pre-Lenten Caribbean carnivals are over, it doesn’t mean the festivities are. Enjoy Bolivia’s Carnival of Oruro (19 February–1 March), where revellers pay homage to the Virgen of Socavón by wearing costumes and masks featuring parodies of devils, animals and more.

Then celebrate Republic Day in Guyana with Mashramani (23 February), where calypso, chutney-soca, and soca competitions and special dance routines are major highlights.

Caribbean carnival calendar

Trinidad & Tobago Carnival

Through 13 February

The “mother of all West Indian carnivals” starts just after Christmas with parties and numerous showcases and competitions (from calypso and soca to costumes, stickfighting and steelbands) through to J’ouvert morning and the parade of the bands on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

Curaçao Carnival

6 January–13 February

Enjoy tumba music, costumed street parades, King and Queen pageants, Carnival of the Bandabou region, the Main Carnival Parade, and the Main Farewell Parade.

Guadeloupe Carnival

6 January–13 February

Street parades with grand costumes, choreographed dances, and the appearance of the Carnival Queen and King are the highlights of Shrove Sunday (or Dimanche Gras), Lundi Gras morning and Rose Monday evening, before the famous floats and red devils take to the streets on Mardi Gras.

Carnaval de Ponce, Puerto Rico

10–13 February

Interactive songs, bomba music and chants feature heavily in this “carnival on steroids”. Parade Day is Sunday, Monday is all about salsa, and the Burial of the Sardine ends the celebrations on Tuesday.

Martinique Carnival

11–14 February

The action begins on Shrove Sunday, when Vaval the Carnival King’s effigy emerges, opening the carnival, concluding on Ash Wednesday where everyone dresses in black and white costumes to drown their sorrows with one last fete as they bid adieu to King Vaval’s burning effigy.

Haiti Carnival

11–13 February

The largest of the island’s parades happen in Port-au-Prince, while you can experience small celebrations in Jacmel and Aux Cayes. Parties take place for three days leading up to Mardi Gras.

Mas Domnik (aka The Real Mas), Dominica

12–13 February

African and French masquerade traditions are at the heart of month-long activities, culminating with two days of jump-ups in the street.

Shakespeare Mas, Carriacou

12–13 February

As the name suggests, belting the playwright’s speeches with confidence is one of the unique attributes of this Carnival tradition. A whack from the stick each participant carries is expected when lines are fumbled …

Carnaval Dominicano, Dominican Republic

12–13 February

If you don’t see a limping devil (diablo cojuelo) at Carnival time, you’re in the wrong place. La Vega has the largest parade, and Santiago the second largest. Across the country, bachata, salsa, and merengue blast from speakers as colourful costumes are brought to life by masqueraders. There are parades every Sunday in the preceding weeks — no two carnivals in any two towns are the same.

And on the mainland …

Encarnación, Paraguay

27 January–24 February

Panama Carnival

9–14 February

Rio de Janeiro Carnival, Brazil

9–17 February

Barranquilla Carnival, Colombia

10–13 February

Designated a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral & Intangible Heritage of Humanity

Ecuador Carnival

12–13 February

Mardi Gras, New Orleans

13 February

Funding provided by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme Direct Support Grants Programme.
The views expressed on this website are those of the the authors and do not reflect those of the Direct Support Grants Programme.