By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
Summertime in the Caribbean brings warmer days, the sweetest mangoes, and an array of joyous Carnival celebrations. Whether they’re organized to commemorate independence from Colonial governments; a successful sugarcane harvest; or simply to celebrate national heritage and culture, they have one thing in common. At (at least!) one point during Carnival season, revelers will parade through city streets in elaborate costumes, bursting with joyous abandon. Feel like joining in? We’ve rounded up six Caribbean summertime festivals where you can do just that. Book your tickets now for these fun affairs happening right now and later this summer. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to have a blast.
Vincy Mas, St Vincent & the Grenadines Billed as the “hottest carnival in the Caribbean,” the 40th installment of the territory-wide party didn’t disappoint, with steel pan performances; the Miss St. Vincent and the Grenadines beauty pageant; and, of course, the traditional dance-until-dawn (and beyond!) Kingstown street party, J’ouvert.
Spice Mas, Grenada Festivities began in earnest in July but continue for a full month on the “spice island,” where revelers can get their fill of kaiso and soca as well as traditional calypso and steel pan music at celebrations that get progressively more exuberant as the weeks wear on. By Carnival’s final last hurrah (beginning August 14), we won’t be surprised if the entire island is jumping. Now through August 15.
BVI Emancipation Festival Celebrations The BVI celebrates its ancestors’ freedom from slavery, reveling in a series of extravaganzas with music, pageants, food, parades, races and folklore presentations.
Antigua Carnival Sixty years-old and still going strong, this 10-day party includes all the classic carnival events: steel pan music competitions; crowning of a carnival queen; parades through St. John’s; and J’ouvert. On Carnival Tuesday, all roads lead to Carnival City (Antigua Recreation Ground), for the Last Lap and colorful parade of the bands.
Crop Over, Barbados Missed out on Trinidad’s pre-Lenten carnival? Consider this Bajan bacchanal as an alternative. Dating from the 18th century, when the sugarcane plantations’ final harvest of the season would be heralded with music and merriment, Crop Over is today a modern mash-up of raucous rum-fueled parties that culminates on Kadooment Day with a rollicking road march along Spring Garden Highway. July 14-August 7.
Culturama, Nevis Tiny Nevis parties in a big way during their summer celebration, which marks the 19th-century emancipation of slaves with a dozen days filled with local arts and culture. Youngsters join in the Junior Kaiso competition and Talented Youth pageant, while the cultural street fair, parade though Charlestown, and Emancipation Day Jump-Up are fun for the entire family. July 27-August 19.