Event buzz (Jul/Aug 2024)

Shelly-Ann Inniss on the major festivals, holidays, and celebrations across the region this July and August

  • Photo by Rodney Legall/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Photo by Dutchmen Photography/Shutterstock.com
  • Photo by Peter Phipp/Travelshots.com/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Photo by Butch Limchoy, courtesy The Marionettes Chorale
  • Photo by courtesy Reggae Sumfest
  • Photo by Nyla Singh
  • Photo courtesy Tobago Festivals Commission
  • Photo by Digitalunderwater.com/Alamy Stock Photo
  • Photo courtesy CPL T20

Have a time!

Our histories and festivals may vary, but when Caribbean carnivals get underway, you’re always guaranteed a vibrant display of local culture — the stuff magic memories are made of!

Experience Vincy Mas (28 June–9 July), St Lucia Carnival (1–16 July), Antigua Carnival (25 July–6 August), Barbados’ Crop Over (31 July–5 August), Toronto Caribbean Carnival (formerly Caribana, 1–5 August), Grenada’s Spicemas (1–13 August), and Notting Hill Carnival (25–26 August in England).

Celebrate the spirit of resistance and the hard-won end of enslavement with Keti Koti in Suriname (1 July), and more regional emancipation celebrations in August (see page 22).

Up north, the Bahamas Goombay Summer Festival (4–25 July) features the highly anticipated Junkanoo rush-out, along with quadrille dancing, traditional Bahamian folk music (rake-and-scrape), and sumptuous Bahamian cuisine every Thursday.

Mango vert, mango teen, mango dou dou sou se matin … The refrain from the classic folk song might come to mind as you devour mango-infused creations at the Nevis Mango Festival (5–7 July). Later in the month, don’t miss all the action at the 50th Nevis Culturama (25 July–6 August).

The Marionettes Chorale — one of Trinidad & Tobago’s oldest arts and cultural organisations — ends their 60th anniversary season in style with Mosaic VI (6–7 July), revisiting some of their landmark musical theatre and opera performances.

In St Lucia, every dish tells its own story at the St Lucia Foodie Fortnight (6–20 July), delivering diverse and tantalising culinary offerings. The country’s cultural excellence continues in August as communities gather for the month-long celebration of La Rose — one of the national flower festivals that also features a feast day or “grand fete” on 30 August.

Immerse yourself in Jamaica’s musical heritage during Reggae Sumfest (14–20 July), comprising eight events overflowing with the island’s renowned joy, unity, and uplifting vibrations.

That same week, round-the-island bus tours, thrilling hikes, iron band performances, food and craft fairs, and a calabash exhibition are on the agenda at Montserrat’s unique Calabash Festival (14–20 July).

Don’t miss Trinidad’s Hosay festivities — a local form of Islamic Muharram observances, commemorating the deaths of two of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandsons — in late July. The lunar Muslim festival unfolds over 10 days, culminating over the final three nights with powerful tassa drumming, colourful flags, tadjahs (tomb replicas), crescent moons, and dancing.

Across the water, the Tobago Heritage Festival (mid-July through 1 August) blossoms in villages all over the island, showcasing each community’s rich traditions — dance, storytelling, food, music, and more.

August in the English-speaking Caribbean dawns with Emancipation Day (1 August). Commemorations include concerts, workshops, street processions, fashion shows, and showcases of cultural crafts.

Food and history buffs might remember Captain William Bligh’s 18th-century journey on the HMS Bounty, which introduced breadfruit to the Caribbean. Many varieties provided sustenance to enslaved Africans. Nowadays, the precious starchy fruit is enjoyed year-round, part of emancipation commemorations at St Vincent & the Grenadines’ Breadfruit Festival, and St Lucia’s Breadfruit & Breadnut Festival (1 August).

Are you up for a crash course on chocolate-making? Indulge in St Lucia’s Chocolate Heritage Month (August), with behind-the-scenes experiences in cocoa production, a delightful restorative chocolate spa treatment, chocolate cuisine, and lots more.

Which powerboat will be the first to reach Store Bay, Tobago from Trinidad in the 90-mile Great Race (17 August)? Delight in seeing the boats speed past at your favourite vantage point, or celebrate on the beach as they arrive in Tobago!

Whether floating, diving, swimming, or simply soaking up the sun, Dive Fest Barbados (18–24 August) encourages everyone to explore colourful reefs and shipwrecks. Participation in coral restoration, lionfish hunts, photo contests, beach clean-ups, and swimming with sea turtles promises to be a tonne of fun too.

The Anguilla Summer Festival (21 July–11 August) promises carnival parades, competitions, boat racing (the island’s national sport) and other maritime activities, with a taste of Anguilla’s laidback charm.

At Curaçao’s Kaya Kaya Street Festival (24 August), community spirit fills Otrobanda, as neighbourhoods transform into a studio for music and art. The following weekend, A-list stars — including Jennifer Hudson, Gladys Knight, Marc Anthony, and Seal — perform at the Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival (29–31 August).

And finally, cricket lovers — and cricket party lovers! — will experience the thrill of the Caribbean Premier League (28 August–6 October) in lively, world-class CPL T20 cricket matches across the region.

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.