The Caribbean’s Most Fabulous Festivals
When people think of vacationing in the Caribbean, visions of white sandy beaches, chaise lounges and umbrella drinks come to mind. The most action some can imagine throughout the multitude of sun-drenched islands is dancing to steel drums near a tiki hut bar on a nearly deserted beach. While officially the Caribbean Islands stretch from Cuba in the north to Aruba and Trinidad in the south, most also include the Bahamas and the Florida Keys when thinking about a Caribbean vacation.
With over 7,000 islands representing almost 30 island nations, it should actually be no surprise that some of the best parties in the world are held on many of these tropical archipelagos. Here are some of the favorites.
As the resting place of the late great Bob Marley, it is no surprise that Jamaica hosts the largest and most popular reggae festival in the world each July. Reggae Sumfest Jamaica has been held the third week in July every year since 1993, “promoting music – the universal force.”
The festival in the heart of Montego Bay usually kicks off on a Sunday night at the Aquasol Theme Park, with each night featuring a different theme. The week-long celebration culminates the following Saturday with International Night held at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex.
Performers from Stephen Marley to Rihanna have attracted over 35,000 live attendees to the over 50 live stage and dancehall shows, and over 75,000 viewers log on for Sumfest’s free live stream. It is an event not to be missed – and the beaches aren’t so bad either!
If you are hitting the tropics during the winter holidays, there’s no better place to go then Nassau. In the wee hours of the morning on December 26th (Boxing Day), 2 AM to be exact, thousands dance through the streets of Nassau’s town center for the Jonkanoo Festival. A rainbow of colors and costumes as well as the reverberation of rhythmic drums, cowbells and brass horns entrance the onlookers. Art and sculptures feed the soul and music lifts the spirit. It is a party like no other.
If that isn’t enough, high rollers join the party a few days later when the PokerStars Championship Bahamas returns once again to the Atlantis Resort. Partygoers move from the sand to poolside and from under the stars to the lights and sounds of the amazing casino resort. The rich culture and endless good times have made Nassau a staple of the Caribbean circuit since 2004, and players and fans have returned countless times to enjoy the easy going fun that Nassau has to offer.
Voted one of the “Top Five Caribbean Celebrations” by USA Today and 10Best, the Aruba Soul Beach Music Festival takes place over Memorial Day Weekend in May, and has for the last ten years. In previous years, audiences danced and partied to the music of Miguel, Alicia Keyes, The Isley Brothers, Mary J. Blige and Tony Rock. The eclectic mix of jazz, soul, house, Latin, and salsa music means there is something for everyone.
In addition to loads of great music at the amped up nightclubs, there are crazy beach parties and fall off your seat laughing comedy nights. Add in the white sandy beaches and turquoise waters and it’s hard to imagine a better vacation. Did we mention it was the #1 “Caribbean Summer Festival” as voted by Jetsetter Magazine. Need we say more?
If Mardi Gras isn’t cutting it for you anymore, take a trip to Trinidad where they celebrate “Fat Tuesday” like no other. Carnival in Trinidad is easily one of the most attended carnivals in the world; while it is only a two-day event, unlike New Orlean’s week long debauchery, festivities actually begin just after Christmas and continue to bring travelers from the world around up until the two day finale.
It is the most significant cultural and tourism event and it is said that if the locals aren’t partying, they are preparing for the next year’s party. The festival features street parades, Soca and calypso music, limbo contests and a wild array of costumes and décor.
As Trinidad is proud to support the most cultural events year round in the Caribbean, there are a variety of accommodations and amazing food to enjoy. If you are very brave, you can even take part in the parade by purchasing a costume from one of the many all-inclusive Carnival bands. No more watching on the sidelines. You are truly part of the event.
If you haven’t picked your party for 2017, I’m sure we’ve made your choice more difficult. Luckily, given their scheduled dates, you can easily attend all four. Party on!