The Caribbean is known for its hundreds of gorgeous beaches and laid-back vibe. These are the primary reasons thousands of tourists come to this part of the world every year.
However, there is another reason why tourists flock to the Caribbean and locals hop from one island to another: the festivals.
Each Caribbean country holds several festivals annually. Many celebrate food, drinks, and arts, while other celebrations are more religious and seasonal in nature.
Regardless of the type, if you have Caribbean citizenship and are settling here or plan to visit this part of the world soon, here are the seven festivals you should never miss:
1. Sailing Week
Antigua and Barbuda is one of the Caribbean countries with the best beaches. Because of this, it is the perfect place for a variety of water sports and activities, including sailing and yachting.
Antigua Sailing Week is an annual week-long regatta held in the waters off Antigua’s English Harbour. The festival was first celebrated in 1967.
The event, which is one of the top regattas globally, attracts hundreds of participants, yacht owners, and spectators annually. In its heyday, around 150 to 200 yachts gathered during the festival.
The week-long competition consists of five main races, which include its biggest and most prestigious one, the English Harbour race.
Aside from the exciting races, the Antigua Sailing Week has one of the most happening party and social scenes. There are plenty of events taking place around Antigua where participants and spectators can have fun.
Many of these events are sponsored by well-known international brands, meaning you can expect amazing, memorable parties and other gatherings.
The Antigua Sailing Week takes place between late April and early May.
2. St. Kitts Music Festival
St. Kitts and Nevis is a Caribbean country known for its lush rainforests, charming towns, and friendly locals. The stunning beaches also make this nation a popular destination for tourists.
St. Kitts is also home to one of the biggest musical festivals in the Caribbean.
Since its first celebration in 1996, the St. Kitts Music Festival has become one of the most popular events showcasing a variety of musical styles and local and international artists.
The live concerts during the event feature reggae, blues, jazz, R&B, calypso, Soca, and other musical styles. All these shows are held at the Warner Park Stadium in St. Kitts.
The list of renowned artists that have graced this festival includes Lionel Richie, Ludacris, Ne-Yo, Ja Rule, and John Legend.
There are also plenty of beach parties and festivities you can join and show off your best summer outfits when there are no live performances or if you want to take a break from the festival.
3. Mas Dominik
Dominica, a Caribbean country known for its natural wonders, is also home to one of the most original and fun carnivals in the world: Mas Dominik.
Mas Dominik, or Real Mas, is one of the oldest carnivals in the Caribbean and the world. It incorporates elements from African and French traditions and festivities, which have evolved over the years.
As a result, this Caribbean carnival evokes the spirit of traditional masquerades and contemporary social commentary.
All these are evident in the street dancing and performances, street parties, costumes, calypso art form, and music, which you will see and hear in and around the streets of Roseau.
Mas Dominik takes place in February annually. Before the main event, you can watch various Calypso shows, concerts, and pageants. There are plenty of village feasts you shouldn’t miss out on as well.
4. Grenada Spicemas Festival
Grenada, the island of spice in the Caribbean, also has its own unique carnival: Spicemas. This festival happens during August every year.
The festival is known for its exciting events teeming with pageantry, festivities, and art forms linked to the local African, French, British, and Caribbean heritage. Because of this, you can expect all events to be colorful, extravagant, fun, and full of surprises.
Some events you can expect during the carnival are the ShortKnee Masquerade, a festivity showcasing the unique fusion of French and African culture, and J’ouvert, the biggest street party.
The carnival ends with Monday Night Mas, the peak of the festival, where bands play a variety of lively tunes through the brightly lit streets.
5. St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival
The St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival is another big, widely popular musical event in the Caribbean. It usually takes place during May each year.
This festival was first held in 1992 and rebranded in 2013 to also showcase their local art.
The St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival hosts different events that showcase extensive live presentations of jazz, R&B, and calypso music. The concerts feature performances from local and international artists.
Past international performers have included Lauryn Hill, Elton John, Smokey Robinson, Santana, and Rihanna.
The festival also has fashion and art shows, theatre performances, and food carnivals.
You can witness these events across various venues, including Pigeon Point National Park, central Castries, The Great House, Fond D’or Heritage Park, and Rudy John Beach Park.
6. Barbados Crop Over Festival
If you want to be part of a festival that lasts for three months, make sure you are in Barbados in August.
The Barbados Crop Over Festival was originally a sugar crop harvest festival. It is now a three-month celebration of the country’s colonial heritage through events featuring indigenous art, craft, and calypso, flower festivals, pageants, folk concerts, and festivities at Foreday Morning.
The festival ends with the Grand Kadooment, the biggest event, which features the most energy and color and attracts the biggest crowd.
If you’re lucky, you may get a glimpse or even meet Rihanna, Barbados’ famous native and international celebrity.
Taking part in these festivals and those celebrated in the other islands in the Caribbean is easy if you have a passport issued by one of the countries here.
Obtaining a Caribbean passport is easy and straightforward through the different Citizenship by Investment Programs or CIPs.
This program allows foreigners to acquire a passport from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia by making a donation to the local government, investing in a business, or buying a residential or commercial property.
When you have second citizenship from any of these Caribbean nations, you can enjoy visa-free entry to hundreds of countries, including all the islands in this part of the world.
Abire Mansoor is a Director and Licensed Agent at Citizens International, a white-glove specialist firm offering private client services necessary for citizenship, residency and investment into the Caribbean, North America, and Europe. Based in her home country of Antigua & Barbuda, she is an experienced consultant who works directly with many professional partners and advises clients worldwide.