Happenings (September/October 2008)

A brief look at the events that will have the Caribbean buzzing in September and October

  • Superstar singer Beyoncé, one of the main attractions at Bermuda`s biggest event. Photograph courtesy The Bermuda Department of Tourism
  • Pirates at the Landing Pageant in George Town harbour. Photograph courtesy Pirates Week Office/Ricardo Barcelo
  • Latoya Providence, a Trinidadian boxer. Photograph by Mariamma Kambon
  • Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival

Bermuda’s biggest and best

If you‘ve just decided to buy a ticket for the 13th annual Bermuda Music Festival, you’ll probably have a hard time finding one. Tickets have been sold out since June.

With a lineup that includes superstars such as Beyoncé and Alicia Keys, what else would you expect? Even Bermuda’s premier Ewart F Brown, in his announcement about the festival in May, described the lineup as the “greatest in the festival’s history,” topping the much-talked about festival in 2007, which featured Lionel Richie, Natasha Bedingfield, The O’Jays, Smokey Robinson, and Earth Wind & Fire.

This year, UB40 and R&B legends The Whispers will also headline. Other acts include Aaron Neville, Lyfe Jennings, Collie Buddz, comedians Bill Bellamy and Dick Gregory, and Solange Knowles (Beyoncé’s sister).

Comedian and talk show host Steve Harvey will host the event.

Formerly known as the Bermuda Jazz Festival, the Bermuda Music Festival is the biggest event on the island, and offers visitors the chance to sample Bermudan food and culture at the Victualling Yard and Food Court.

Laura Dowrich-Phillips

For more information: www.bermudatourism.com

Creoles at the controls

Since it began in 1997, the Dominica Creole Festival has been one of the Caribbean’s major music events.

With the island marking its 30th independence celebrations just one day after the festival climaxes on November 2, this year’s festival is going to supersede all others.

Dubbed Reunion 2008, the celebrations aim to reunite Dominicans all over the world with those who still live on the island, said a spokesman from the Dominica Festivals Commission.

From Festival in the Square on October 26, a fringe event, the week will be chockful of things to do, food to eat, indigenous craft to buy and people to hang out with. You don’t have to be au courant with creole music to enjoy it, but zouk, bouyon, konpo, soukous, cadance-lypso, zydeco and soca music are infectious enough to get your feet moving.

Staged on the weekend when creole-speaking nations celebrate International Creole Day, the festival boasts the biggest gathering of creole musicians from around the world. It’s intended to build solidarity and collaboration between musicians from that island as well as its creole-speaking neighbours—Martinique, Guadeloupe and St Lucia—and from Francophone Africa, Louisiana, Haiti, the Seychelles and other parts of the world.

Past performers include WCK, Kassav, Tabou Combo, Exile One, Gramacks/New Generation, WCK, Ti-Vice, First Serenade, Zouk Machine, Magnum Band, Zin, Taxi Creole and Carimi.


For more information: www.festivalmusiquecreoledominique.com


Brown girls in the ring

Trinidad and Tobago is heading for a boxing three-peat. In 2007 the country hosted the Pan Am Games boxing qualifiers, the first in the Caribbean, and followed that up with boxing Olympic qualifiers for the Americas in March 2008, again the first such honour for a Caribbean country. Thanks to their success, the country will now host, from September 31–October 8, the Pan American Women’s Boxing Championships.

Trinidad and Tobago has one of the leading female boxing teams in the region, with three members rated in the top 20 internationally—Jamella Jones (11), Chermerie Taylor (13) and Wendy Alleyne (7).

Cecil Forde, head of the Trinidad and Tobago Amateur Boxing Federation, said the organisation would put forward a full team for the event, and if successful, the women will head for China for the World Championships in November.

The Pan Am championships will be held at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre in Trinidad’s western peninsula. Forty-two countries are eligible to participate and Forde expects a large international contingent to show up for the championships.


Jamaican jerk and German sausages

Oktoberfest—originally a German festival—and Jamaica are an unlikely pair. However, since 1973 a group of Jamaicans and Germans have gathered every October to listen to music and drink lots of beer. This gathering turned into Oktoberfest in Jamaica. From its inception it has grown in popularity, moving to various venues around Jamaica. Last year the event was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Kingston.

The festivities involve games such as throwing golf balls into metal buckets and driving nails into wood. There are beer-drinking competitions like Stiefeltrinken (this competition uses a glass shaped like a boot that holds two litres of beer), known as “yard-drinking” in English.

Holser Waehling, a committee member of the Jamaica German Society, said, “Over the years, entertainment has been provided by Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, 50/50 Band, Mile High Band and many more.”

The entertainment also includes food. The organisers have blended two cuisines that lie on opposite ends of the spectrum to make Oktoberfest in Jamaica a unique affair. German beer, Jamaican jerk chicken, bratwurst (German sausages), tossed salad and sauerkraut: a rare combination and a treat for food enthusiasts. At Oktoberfest in Jamaica, beer lovers and travellers can experience German culture right here in the Caribbean.

Maresa Patience

For more information: Jamaicans-germans@mailcity.com
Or call: (+1876) 960 0617

Our voices, our stories, our films

For the third year, filmmakers from Trinidad and Tobago, the region and the Diaspora will get a chance to show their art to an audience hungry for stories about Caribbean life at home and abroad.

The Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival takes place from September 17-30 at MovieTowne in Port of Spain. The festival gets going with a red-carpet ceremony attended by international directors and filmmakers.

Five daily screenings over two weeks will offer cinemagoers a host of prize-winning feature films, documentaries, animations, short films, comedy, romance and also the work of schoolchildren and university students. Audiences get to choose their favourites from among the English, French, Dutch and Spanish-language films.

The festival includes screenings country-wide, including Tobago and San Fernando. To help improve skills in the local film industry, there will be workshops in cinematography, working with actors, sound and distribution. A directors’ feedback session is also planned.

Its founder Bruce Paddington, a documentary producer/director and teacher, sees the festival as an important adjunct to the government’s efforts to grow the local industry (through the TT Film Company) as part of the cultural wealth of the country.

“Trinidad and Tobago has so much creative talent that it would be foolhardy not to capitalise on it. But that is only one aspect. Every nation has a right to talk to itself, and film provides the perfect medium for doing so. That is why the theme of the festival is ‘Our voices, our stories, our films.'”

Marina Salandy-Brown

For more information: www.trinidadandtobagofilmfestival.com

Island Hopper

Bahamas Conch Festival
When: October 10-12
Where: McLeans Town, Grand Bahama Island
What: Men, women and children compete in conch-cracking and conch-eating competitions
For more info: www.bahamas.com

Aruba Music Festival
When: October 10-11
Where: Venue to be announced
What: Spectacular, star-studded, two-day international concert
For more info: 1-800 TO-ARUBA

Nevis International Culinary Heritage Expo (NICHE)
When: October 17-19
Where: Various venues
What: Weekend celebration of food, wine and culture, with daily cooking demonstrations and gourmet meals prepared by Caribbean and international chefs
For more info: www.nevis-niche.com

Jamaica Open 2008
When: October 26
Where: Half Moon Golf Club, Montego Bay
What: Professional and amateur golfers vie for US$105,000
For more info: www.jamaicagolfassociation.com

Cayman Islands 31st Annual Pirates Week
When: November 1-30
Where: All over the Caymans
What: This is a national festival in which cutlass-bearing pirates and sassy wenches storm George Town, capture the governor, throng the streets, and stage a costume parade. The celebration pays tribute to the nation’s past and its cultural heritage
For more info: www.piratesweekfestival.com

When: October 28
Where: All over Trinidad and Tobago
What: Known as the festival of lights, Divali is a Hindu festival in which deyas (tiny oil lamps) adorn houses and yards, sometimes on bamboo frames bent into intricate designs

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.