Top Ten Caribbean Festivals - Page 2

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Junkanoo Festival, Bahamas
SOUND THE TRUMPETS: Junkanoo in the Bahamas has begun!  (courtesy, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism)

5. Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay, Jamaica (Mid-July)
Where better to soak up the sounds of reggae than Jamaica, the birthplace of the art form? Every July, the resort town of Montego Bay hosts the Reggae Sumfest, a four-day festival that brings together the world's top reggae musicians and thousands of fans in celebration of the island's best-known export. The festival begins with a beach party on Sunday night, and then a Dancehall Night and shows from international artists from Thursday to Saturday. The latter always include a surprise guest star, often from outside the reggae scene—last year it was Grammy-winner T-Pain, while LL Cool J and Mary J. Blige headlined in 2007. Tickets are sold for individual events or as an all-festival pass; there are plenty of spin-off parties as well, both on the street or in local bars and clubs.
Montego Bay Beach Travel Guide

4. St. Lucia Jazz Festival in St. Lucia (Early May)
The St. Lucia Jazz Festival was founded in 1991, and has grown into one of the premier events in the Caribbean and in the world music scene. The ten-day event regularly draws international stars, not only in jazz, but R&B, calypso, and fusion; past performers include Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Najee, Wyclef Jean, Smokey Robinson, Santana, Michael Bolton, and Lauryn Hill. Headline concerts are held on Pigeon Island, off of St. Lucia's northern tip, in an open-air auditorium with 44 acres of sloping grasslands, tropical forests, beaches, and twin peaks. Shows are also held at venues around the capital city and at the southern end of the island. Be sure to attend some of the festival's numerous free concerts (known as fringe activities), which are held around the island and often feature local musicians.
St. Lucia Travel Guide

3. Crop Over Festival in Barbados (July)
Why celebrate for a day or a weekend, when you can party for a whole month? That's the attitude of Barbadians when it comes to Crop Over, the island's largest and most anticipated festival, held from early July to early August. The celebration, which dates back to the late 1700s, originally marked the end of the all-important sugarcane harvest, when Barbados was one of the world's largest producers of sugar. Today the heart of Crop Over is calypso music, which infuses the entire event with its infectious rhythm and pithy lyrics. Top calypso bands compete for the coveted Pic-Of-De-Crop award, and can be heard at venues, or tents, around the island. Crop Over features countless street fairs and parades, and closes on Kadooment Day, a national holiday, with huge Carnival-like parades.
Barbados Beach Travel Guide

2. Junkanoo in the Bahamas (Late December)
You know it's a big deal when Pepsi names a soft drink after it. Junkanoo is a frenetic Carnival-like festival and street parade held throughout the Bahamas in the early morning hours of December 26 (AKA Boxing Day) and again on January 1. By far the largest parade, or "rush," is in the capital city Nassau, where tens of thousands of revelers pack Shirley and Bay streets from 2 a.m. until well past dawn to dance and sing and watch the parade amid the throbbing of drums, horns, whistles, cowbells, and musical acts. Local groups called "shacks," some numbering in the hundreds, spend months creating elaborate masks, costumes, and floats for the big event; the competition for top honors—including cash prizes and a year's worth of bragging rights—gets fierce. Bleachers along the route provide the best view.
Bahamas Beach Travel Guide

1. Carnival–Port of Spain, Trinidad and Santiago, Dominican Republic (Late February)
When it comes to festivals in the Caribbean, none is more anticipated or enthusiastically celebrated than Carnival. In the Trinidad capital of Port of Spain—considered by many to have the best and most extravagant Carnival—preparations start months beforehand, with street parties and virtually nonstop calypso and soca, a type of dance music that originated in Trinidad & Tobago. Visitors are welcome at mas camps and panyards where local troupes construct fantastic floats and costumes, and steel drum bands rehearse their acts. Carnival itself lasts just two days—the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday—but a packed and frenetic 48 hours it is, with even more concerts and a series of themed parades (like dirty mas, when everyone parades smeared in mud).


Trinidad & Tobago Travel Guide
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