Paris Permenter & John Bigley's
Caribbean Family Tripper travel guide

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Caribbean Festivals and Special Events

The Caribbean is undoubtedly one place that knows how to party. Besides a whole slew of national holidays (more than found in the US and Canada), you’ll also find that the islands celebrate with many special festivals. The biggest blowout on every island is Carnival, scheduled at different times on different islands. Like Mardi Gras, this party lasts for many days (and nights).

Even if you don't plan to attend, it pays to know the dates of major events; airfare can be difficult to secure as residents living abroad return home to partake in the fun.

Many smaller festivals are also planned throughout the year on every island. Some can be a wonderful glimpse into another culture, from music that echoes back to the island’s early days to flavorful foods that give a taste of the island’s bounty.

Be forewarned, however: islands just about shut down during any festival or holiday. Don’t expect shops and stand-alone restaurants outside the hotels and resorts to be open for business during the largest events.

Here’s a sampling of some of the festivals planned annually in this region:

Bahamas: Junkanoo parades
Jamaica: Maroon Festival
St. Kitts and Nevis: Carnival parade
USVI: Crucian Christmas Children’s Parade

Curaçao: Carnival
Jamaica: Bob Marley Birthday Bash
Trinidad and Tobago: Carnival

Anguilla: Moonsplash
Bahamas: Winter Sailing Championships
St. Maarten: Heineken Regatta
Trinidad and Tobago: Leatherback turtle nesting period

Barbados: Congaline Festival
Cayman Islands: Schooner race
Jamaica: Carnival
St. Maarten: Carnival
Tobago: Goat and Crab Race
USVI: Rolex Cup Regatta, St. Thomas Carnival

BVI: Spring Caribbean Arts Festival
Cayman Islands: Annual National Children’s Festival of the Arts
Curaçao: KLM Jazz Festival
Trinidad: Steelpan Competition
Turks and Caicos: Annual Regatta

Cayman Islands: Annual Million Dollar Month International Fishing Tournament
Puerto Rico: Casals Festival
St. John, USVI: Carnival

Puerto Rico: Barranquitas Artisans Fair
Tobago: Tobago Heritage Festival
Turks and Caicos: Rake and Scrape Festival

Jamaica: Jamaica Independence Day Parade
Turks and Caicos: Cactusfest

BVI: Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta
Puerto Rico: Inter-American Festival of the Arts
Turks and Caicos: National Youth Day

Cayman Islands: Pirates Week
USVI: St. Croix Jazz and Caribbean Music and Art Festival

Anguilla: Christmas Fair
Nassau, Bahamas: Night of Christmas Music
Jamaica: Devon House’s Christmas Fair
Puerto Rico: Criollisimo Show, Dec.; Lighting of the Giant Christmas TreeSt. Lucia: Christmas Folk Festival
Turks and Caicos: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
St. Croix, USVI: Christmas Spoken Here


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