A report from Travel Pulse.
The Caribbean has festivals for all of us this year.
Representatives from more than a dozen Caribbean destinations held a press event at the New York Times Travel show in New York City last Friday, outlining festivals that include everything from food and dance to music and playing up other attributes that make Caribbean nations so popular with Canadians and other visitors. TravelPulse Canada was on the scene, so here’s a brief country-by-country rundown.
Junkanoo is the biggest festival in The Bahamas, a riot of colourful costumes, music and dancing that is held on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Carnival will take place in Nassau this year from May 1-4. There’s also a pineapple festival on Eleuthera from June 4-6. Not to mention a crab festival on Andros June 20-22 and a mutton festival on Long Island March 6 and 7.
Antigua and Barbuda
This island nation is home to a huge sailing festival every year. Antigua Sailing Week this year takes place April 26 to May 1. Antigua has 365 beaches; one for every day of the year. The popular sunset barbeque and music shows take place every Thursday and Sunday nights at Shirley Heights, which offers what might be the best view in the Caribbean. The new international airport is said to be state of the art, and tourism officials say theirs is the easiest Caribbean nation in which to get married.
Dominica Carnival runs in the city of Roseau Feb. 24 to 26 this year. The country’s World Creole Music Festival is tentatively set for Oct. 23-25. It’s a beautiful island filled with awe-inspiring nature and features the longest hiking trail in the Caribbean; the Waitukubuli Trail (185 km’s). The island’s waters also are home to the world’s only year-round pod of sperm whales. There are several new hotel additions to Dominica, including the Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski and the Anichi Resort and Spa, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection.
There’s a Dive Fest held every September, which takes advantage of the beautiful water surrounding Saint Lucia. The island’s Jazz Festival runs May 7-9 this year and features big names like Chuck Corea and Patti LaBelle. On an entirely different note, the new Cabot Saint Lucia golf course (created by the folks behind the wildly successful Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia) could open in 2021.
Saint Martin/Saint Maarten
This dual-nation island will be home to Carnival Feb. 15-26 and the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta March 5-8. Holi Fest will take place April 5. Known largely for its beaches and Dutch-French culture, the island also has nature reserves and rainforest adventures.
St. Kitt’s and Nevis
Tourism officials last week mostly talked about hotels instead of festivals. The St Kitt’s Marriott has been removed from head to toe, and the Four Seasons on Nevis also has been given a facelift. Nevis is home to the Alexander Hamilton Museum. I also love Sunshine’s Bar, next to the Four Seasons. Nisbet Plantation Inn is a beautiful spot with tons of history.
The “Spice Island of the Caribbean” includes not only Grenada itself but also the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The Grenada Chocolate Festival is May 1-6, and the Flavours of Grenada festival takes place May 21-24. The Grenada Music Festival is June 5-7. “We have the warmest, friendliest people in the Caribbean,” officials said.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Rather than talk about their beautiful area of the Caribbean, SVG folks opted for a great musical performance, which you can see here.
The 29th annual Moonsplash Festival takes place March 12-15 at Dune Reserve. The concerts are hosted by Anguilla musician Bankie Banx. The Extraordinary Eats Festival runs in April and features pub crawls and fixed price meals at restaurants. Tranquility Beach Resort Anguilla is open for guests, officials said.
Jamaica will celebrate Reggae month in February. Look for an emphasis on musical legend Bob Marley early in the month, as Feb. 6 would be his 75th birthday if he was still with us. The Jamaican Rum Festival takes place Feb. 29 and March 1. The Calabash International Literary Festival will be held at Treasure Beach May 29-31. The island’s legendary Reggae Sunsplash returns in November after a 14-year absence. Also, the Milk River Seafood and Jerk Festival takes place in December. Preliminary figures show Jamaica attracted 4.2 million visitors in 2019.
The Timba Festival of Music will run Jan 27-31 this year. The Curacao International BlueSeas Festival takes place April 10 and 11, while the Curacao International Rum Festival will be held April 21-23. The Curacaco International Film Festival runs April 22-26.
The Cayman Arts Festival is Feb. 13-22 this year, while the Taste of Cayman Food and Drink Festival is April 4. The Batabano Cayman Carnival runs in early May. The next Cayman Cookout is scheduled for Jan. 13-18 in 2021. Grand Cayman is wonderful, but you’ll find low-key, marvellous resorts and wonderful nature on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.
Eighty per cent of this South American country, the only English-speaking nation in South America, is virgin rain forest. You’ll find spectacular waterfalls, great beaches and plenty of wide-open spaces, not to mention giant anteaters roaming the plains.