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Caribbean Music

The Caribbean people are uniquely inventive when it comes to music. There is almost a different rhythm for every island. Reggae, merengue, calypso, salsa (in different versions from Cuba and Puerto Rico), compas, zouk and soca. Some islands have more than one, but almost all are lively, fast and full of explosive joy.

West Indians will tune up anything to make a rhythm. Consider steel pan. The music played on it can be incredibly beautiful and yet it was created out of the discarded 50 gallon drums of the Trinidadian oil industry. See an article about steel pan in Trinidad. Underpinning all the Caribbean rhythms is the reverberation of African drums, which you will hear all over the islands, particularly in Haiti.

Caribbean music is sometimes about protest and social commentary (particularly in calypso at carnival time), but it is almost always about dancing. The rhythms are compulsive and incredibly lively. West Indians have been known to leave their jobs to get back for carnival. You can always find a place to dance, if you would like to.

In recent years a number of festivals have been created to attract visitors to the islands. These include Jazz and Blues. They tend to be designed with broad appeal, and they are worth considering as a time to visit the islands. There is even an Opera Season in Barbados.

 

Caribbean Music Calendar of Events

JANUARY  |   FEBRUARY  |   MARCH  |   APRIL  |   MAY  |   JUNE  |   JULY  |   AUGUST  |   SEPTEMBER  |   OCTOBER  |   NOVEMBER  |   DECEMBER

 

January

Barbados
Barbados Music Awards

Annual Barbados Jazz Festival

Jamaica
Accompong Maroon Festival, St Elizabeth, with dancing, singing, a Maroon feast and ceremonies

Rebel Salute, annual reggae show, Port Kaiser Sports Club, St Elizabeth

Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival, local and international artists

St Barths
St Barth Music Festival, jazz, classical and chamber music, opera and ballet, with an impressive cast of musicians, some of whom come from the major orchestras around the world, at Lorient and Gustavia churches

St Kitts
St Kitts Carnival: end of carnival season with the Grand New Year’s Day Parade and Carnival Reggae Bash, followed next day by Las’ Lap Jam and Final Jump Up

St Vincent and the Grenadines
Mustique Blues Festival, Basils Bar, Mustique. Annual fund raising event featuring Dana Gillespie & The London Blues Band and other guest artists

Bequia Music Fest, Frangipani Hotel and De Reef, Bequia

Tobago
Bmobile Soca Spree, Dwight Yorke Stadium Car Park

Carnival 2010: Panorama competitions at various pan yards

Trinidad
Start of the Carnival Season with a series of fetes, calypso tents and Panorama competitions for steel pan bands

February

Barbados
Holetown Festival

Grenada and Carriacou
Carriacou Carnival with calypso competitions, Shakespeare Mas and costumed street parades

Jamaica
Reggae Month - Bob Marley Celebrations, a month of events held throughout the island
Bacchanal Treasures, the Jamaica carnival season begins with a series of ‘Bacchanal Friday’ themed events with live bands and ‘SocaCise’ get fit parties

St Barths
Carnival, Costumed street parades in Gustavia

St Vincent and the Grenadines
Mustique Blues Festival continues
Primary School Performing Arts Festival, song, dance, drama and poetry featuring the children of St Vincent and the Grenadines

Tobago
Tobago National Steel Band Semi-Finals, Dwight Yorke Stadium
Tobago Carnival, Market Square

Trinidad
Trinidad Carnival, Port of Spain
Trinidad & Tobago Biennial Music Festival

March

Anguilla
Moonsplash Music Festival, local and overseas musicians and groups, many from the Caribbean, perform with festival creator Bankie Banx under the full moon, on the beach at Dune Preserve, Rendezvous Bay.

Barbados
Holders Season with opera, classical music, poetry, comedy and theatre at Holders House

Jamaica
JamFest, series of concerts held in Negril every Monday night during the annual ‘Spring Break’ party season. This is a three week period when American youngsters flock to Negril and Montego Bay for non-stop wild partying

Bacchanal Treasures, parties continue in the run up to the main carnival events in April. 26-28 Mar

St Vincent and the Grenadines
SVG Blues & Rhythms Festival, Emerald Valley Resort, St Vincent

Trinidad
Trinidad & Tobago Biennial Music Festival

April

Barbados
Oistins Fish Festival
The Barbados Reggae Festival

British Virgin Islands
Virgin Gorda Easter Festival, carnival style celebrations with a Calypso monarch competition, queen shows, nightly entertainment and a street parade in Spanish Town

Grenada and Carriacou
Regional String Band & Annual Carriacou Maroon Music Festival at Belair Park with nightly

Jamaica
Bacchanal Treasures, parties continue in the run up to the main carnival events
Jamaica Carnival street parade held on the Sunday after Easter Sunday

St Kitts
EasterRama, annual festival with watersports/sporting events, calypso shows and festivities in and around Sandy Point

St Lucia
Kalalu World Music Festival, Samaans Park, Choc Bay

St Vincent and the Grenadines
Easterval, Union Island
SVG Gospel Fest, Victoria Park and Peace Memorial Park, St Vincent

Tobago
Tobago International Dance Festival, Mt Irvine Bay Golf Course
Annual Tobago Jazz Experience

May

Antigua
Caribana, Barbuda’s carnival

Barbados
Celtic Festival, various venues, two weeks of Celtic music, dancing, rugby, golf and beach highland games
Barbados Gospelfest, annual event held at various venues including Farley Hill National Park

British Virgin Islands
BVI Music Festival, featuring international, regional and local artists, plus sand sculpting competition, fashion show, beach BBQ and swim suit competition – on the beach at Cane Garden Bay, Tortola

Grenada and Carriacou
Grenada Drum Festival, Krumahville, Tivoli village, St Andrew. Traditional drumming and dancing

St Lucia
St Lucia Jazz Festival, main events at Rodney Bay and Pigeon Island with a broad menu of jazz, R&B, soul etc. Very popular event with fringe activities in Castries, Soufriere and Fond d’Or Nature & Heritage Park

St Vincent and the Grenadines
Official launching of Vincy Mas
Maroon Festival, Union Island. Annual cultural festival to mark the start of the planting season with the Big Drum Dancing, Nation Dance and traditional folk songs. Usually held 3 days prior to or after the full moon

June

Antigua
Romantic Rhythms Music Festival

Grenada and Carriacou
Rock D Spice, annual music festival featuring international, local and regional artists. Various venues with music, local art, crafts, food and culture

Jamaica
Annual Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, various jazz concerts and events held in Ocho Rios, Kingston and the South Coast

St Kitts
Annual St Kitts Music Festival, Warner Park Stadium, with top international and regional musical acts

St Lucia
St Lucia Carnival, official launch of the carnival season. A variety of competitions will run through to July for Carnival Queen, Calypso Monarch, Panorama Champions, Party Monarch and culminates with Band of the Year

St Vincent and the Grenadines
Vincy Mas, Kingstown, St Vincent. Vincy Mas Carnival Season with street parades, calypso and steel band competitions, King and Queen of the Band competitions, beauty pageants and Junior Carnival

Trinidad
WeBeat Festival, St James Amphitheatre/Western Main Road, St James, Port of Spain. Annual cultural and musical event with a Groovy Soca & Chutney Night and Children’s Show

July

Anguilla
Anguilla Summer Festival, Anguilla’s equivalent to carnival

Antigua
Antigua Carnival Celebrations

Barbados
Crop Over Festival, a truly local event, the festival commemorates the end of the sugarcane season and starts with the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes and the crowning of the King and Queen of the Crop

British Virgin Islands
BVI Emancipation Festival/August Festival, three week cultural event with music, food, arts and crafts, calypso show, beauty pageants, boat races and parades.

Jamaica
International Reggae Day, Jamaica Conference Centre, Kingston
Reggae Sumfest, the world’s premier reggae festival

Nevis
Culturama, Nevis’s major cultural festival, a seven day celebration in honour of the end of slavery. Includes calypso competitions, beauty pageant, horse racing, street parades and jump ups, centred on the Cultural Village in Charlestown.

St Lucia
St Lucia Carnival, street party with music for ‘jumping-up’ and a costumed Parade of Bands competing for Band of the Year

St Vincent and the Grenadines
Vincy Mas continues in Kingstown
Canouan Carnival

Tobago
Tobago Heritage Festival, cultural displays of music, storytelling, dance, food and local traditions
Great Fete Weekend, Pigeon Point and Crown Point, popular beach party with live pop/soca/rock music and top local DJ’s with huge sound systems

August

Anguilla
August Monday/J’ouvert Morning

Antigua
Antigua Carnival Celebrations

Barbados
Crop Over Festival

British Virgin Islands
BVI Emancipation Festival/August Festival

Grenada and Carriacou
Grenada Carnival ‘Spice Mas’, with shows and intense party action, street parades and entertainment all day and night. National Carnival Queen Show, Soca Monarch Finals, Panorama Steel Band Competition take place in the run up to carnival with the King and Queen of Carnival competition the night before

Jamaica
Anniversary of Independence, celebrations island wide with a National Float Parade and Gala through the streets of Kingston

Nevis
Culturama activities continue - Culturama Street Parade and Last Lap jump up

St Barths
SBJAM Music Festival

Tobago
Great Fete Weekend continues
Muhtadi Drum Festival, Dwight York Stadium
Castara Fisherman’s Fete, all day beach party

Trinidad
Emancipation Day, street parade with moki jumbies, steelbands and African drums, Port of Spain

September

Antigua
De Jam Festival

Jamaica
Stir It Up Film & Music Festival, international film and music expo, Rose Hall, Montego Bay

Shakti Love Fest, a Spinning, Yoga and Music Charity Festival produced by Shakti Mind Body Fitness in Kingston

St Vincent and the Grenadines
Dance Festival Month. Nation wide showcase of local talent covering folk, ball room, traditional and modern dance, St Vincent

Trinidad
The Trinidad & Tobago Steelpan and Jazz Festival, Queen’s Hall, Port of Spain

October

St Lucia
Jounen Kweyol Entenasyonnal/International Creole Day celebrates Creole food, music, games and folklore

November

Anguilla
Annual Tranquility Jazz Festival, international and regional artists.

Antigua
Moods of Pan Festival

Barbados
Independence Day

St Barths
Blues Festival

St Lucia
St Cecilia’s Day, Patron Saint of Music

St Vincent and the Grenadines
Theatre Arts Festival, various events taking place throughout the month - drama production, song, poetry, music, creative writing, dance and body building. Peace Memorial Hall, St Vincent

December

Anguilla
Festival de Noel

Grenada and Carriacou
Annual Carriacou Parang Festival, Hillsborough, Carriacou. Starts with a free open-air concert and features cultural entertainment, carol singing (including house-to-house) and Parang string bands

St Kitts
St Kitts Carnival with calypso shows, steel band, calypso and party monarch competitions, beauty pageant, street and beach parties, food fair, parade of troupes and bands

St Vincent and the Grenadines
Nine Mornings Festival, St. Vincent. A unique annual Christmas festival which begins with a community lighting programme. Starts each morning at 4am with a range of activities which include street concerts, sea baths (early morning swimming), street dancing, bicycle (decorated) riding, story telling and carol singing. Street stalls with local food and drinks. Evening events include a National Carolling Contest
 

Please note that exact dates vary annualy and the above events may be subject to change/cancellation. Please check locally for confirmation of details.

Accommodation for Music

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    Traditional 1920’s Trinidad house in Woodbrook, with three beautifully appointed en-suite rooms. Read more

  • Par-May-La's Inn,Trinidad B&Bs & Guest Houses

    Par-May-La’s Inn is renowned as a 'home away from home' for a wide range of travellers amid the hustle and bustle of Trinidad’s city life. 13 rooms. Read more

  • Jakes,Jamaica Boutique/Small Hotels & Inns

    A fantastic, funky hideout in the delightful and dozy village of Treasure Beach, on Jamaica’s southern shore. 35 rooms. Read more

  • Strawberry Hill,Jamaica Boutique/Small Hotels & Inns

    An exquisite and fashionable 12-room hotel in modernised plantation style, set 3,000-feet above Kingston, in the Blue Mountains. Read more

  • Silent Waters Villa,Jamaica Villas & Villa Living

    Silent Waters sits right at the top of the exclusive Great River Estate just to the west of Montego Bay. It is an extremely private hideaway with breathtaking views all around. Sleeps 20 Read more

  • Hôtel Le Toiny,St Barthélemy Hotels & Resorts

    A secluded and refined small hotel with cottages ranged across a hillside in the east of St Barths. There are just 15 private suites, each with a pool and decorated in gracious style, Read more

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