Caribbean Datebook (May/June 2016)

Events around the Caribbean in May and June, from a new music festival in Cuba to a seafood celebration in Belize

Photo by Michael LamPhoto ©iStock/USOPhoto courtesy Grenada Chocolate FestPhoto courtesy 2TFWPhoto ©iStock/Peeter ViisimaaPhoto courtesy The Great Crate RacePhoto by caymancarnival.comPhoto courtesy PR Comic ConPhoto ©iStock/Peeter ViisimaaPhoto by Paul CraskPhoto ©iStock/Sam Camp

Don’t miss . . .

Guyana Golden Jubilee celebrations

26 May • across Guyana

Fifty years of Independence is a milestone for any nation, and the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, which marks its golden anniversary on 26 May, is celebrating in fit style. Jubilee events are scheduled across the country for all of 2016, but May is the highlight. Look out for the costumes and floats of the colourful Mashramani parade, rescheduled this year from its traditional date in February. Visit 50guyana.com for more information.

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana from Caribbean and North American destinations

 

If you’re in . . .

. . . Cuba: Musicabana

5 to 8 May
musicabana.com

Music is one of those things that transcends language barriers, and with the thawing of relations between the US and Cuba, it seems like good timing that Musicabana, a new international music festival, comes to the streets of Havana in early May. Dubbed the first major event of its kind to take place in Cuba in over thirty years, it will feature the talents of “the largest gathering of Cuban performers” in decades, as well as a multinational cast of over two dozen artists, including Jamaican Sean Paul, Brazilian Carlinhos Brown, and French-Cuban Ibeyi.

Produced by the Musicabana Foundation and Cuba’s National Institute of Music, this unique four-day festival is planned to be just the first of many annual events. The Musicabana mission, in their own words, is “to make Havana a premiere destination for the discovery of new world sounds and the epicentre of the music world for one monumental week every year; foster, exchange, and generate new cultural dynamics between Cuba, the Caribbean, and the rest of the world; and bring Cuba back to the centre of the most relevant music trends and encourage local talent through year-round music programmes.” Who could argue with that?

. . . Grenada: Grenada Chocolate Fest

13 to 22 May
grenadachocolatefest.com

If it was delicious the first and second times around, go back for number three. For the third year in a row, Grenada’s chocolate artisans are preparing to show off the best of their organic and fairtrade cocoa, riding on the growing wave of interest in “tree to bar” chocolate. Farmers, chocolatiers, cocoa agronomists and ordinary chocoholics will converge for a hands-on and palate-tempting ten-day festival including numerous opportunities to taste the best of the Spice Island’s cocoa products. Does a chocolate breakfast sound appealing? How about an exhibition of chocolate art? Or a “design your own chocolate bar” event, where you can craft the perfect cocoa blend to suit your preferences? And don’t feel guilty: there’s also a “healthy benefits of chocolate” workshop to explain why your possible cocoa addiction is actually a good thing. And this is all happening on a charming island famous for its beaches and gorgeous scenery. It’s all silver lining, no cloud.

. . . Trinidad and Tobago: Trinidad Tobago Fashion Week

14 to 22 May
dus1.org

“It’s always the silhouette that sells couture pieces” — which explains why “Simple Silhouettes Sell” is the theme for 2016’s Trinidad Tobago Fashion Week, or 2TFW for short. May brings the sixth edition of T&T’s now rebranded fashion extravaganza. And it’s not just about the catwalk: an important component of 2TFW is the workshops on the production and financial aspects of the T&T fashion industry. The focus will be on twenty labels ready to be commercialised, including designers from the Caribbean diaspora. Fashionistas can view work by Wadada Movement, Benji Jeans Co., G aur M, Fashion Sixty4, Tabii Just, and Tobye and Shoma, which will make its debut at 2TFW — among others.

Many times the location makes the event — so imagine a fashion show on the beach. That’s what’s happening on 20 May at Pigeon Point in Tobago, where resort and swimwear will be on show. A fashion show in the heart of Port of Spain follows on 22 May. Dress code? Simply fine.

. . . Jamaica: Kingston on the Edge

17 to 26 June
kingstonontheedge.org

Culture lovers: imagine everywhere you turn there’s something artistic going on: dance, poetry slams, art exhibitions, theatre productions, performance art . . . Is your heart racing yet? Jamaica may be the place for you in June, as the Kingston on the Edge (KOTE) urban arts festival unfolds in over twenty events throughout the capital city — from the hills to the harbour, from bars to a synagogue.

Started in 2007 by five friends, KOTE over the years has exhibited the work of more than 450 artistes from around the world. An integral concept of the festival is that performers are encouraged to push the boundaries of their medium and the spaces in which the art is performed and exhibited, while interacting with the general public. The idea, according to the organisers, is that “this environment motivates and inspires the artist to experiment with their craft, often leading to the birth of new and exciting movements in the local scene.”

And with many different media coming together, who knows what new and fantastic art movement might be birthed right before your very eyes. It’s a great opportunity for both artistes and onlookers alike to make “Connections” — the theme of this year’s KOTE.

. . . Trinidad: Carib Great Crate Race

18 June
facebook.com/TheGreatCrateRace

In the six years since its inception, the popularity of the the Carib Great Crate Race has only increased exponentially. There’s nothing Trinis like more than sports and cooler fetes, and this event manages to combine the two in unique style. Six-person teams are invited each to build a floating “crate,” which they then race around an offshore course. There are two classes of “crate” — “professional” and “homemade” — and the class is decided by judges, based on the speed they’re capable of achieving. Competition this year looks to be fierce, with a prize of TT$10,000 for first place in the “professional” class and TT$4,000 in the “homemade” class. Of course, the race is just an excuse to have an epic party afterwards.

This year’s race will be held at the Chaquacabana Beach resort in Chaguaramas, north-west Trinidad, on 18 June. Bajans, don’t feel left out: the organisers of the Trinidad event will also host the first Great Crate Race in Barbados one week before, on 11 June, at the Boathouse.

Event previews by Mirissa De Four and Caribbean Beat staff

 

Yes, you May

Batabano
Venues across Grand Cayman
caymancarnival.com

The Cayman Islands’ answer to Carnival means everything you’d expect: music, dancing, costumes, floats, and a celebration of life under the sun
7 May

BIM Literary Festival
Venues across Barbados
bimlitfest.org

In the year of Barbados’ fiftieth anniversary of Independence, this biennial literature festival pays tribute to writer Paule Marshall and her Bajan roots. Jamaican writers like poets Mervyn Morris and Tanya Shirley help make it a regional affair
12 to 14 May

Run in Paradise
Across Antigua
runinparadise.com

Launched in 2015, this half-marathon event zigzags across Antigua, starting on the Atlantic coast, with the finish line at gorgeous Fort James Beach. And of course there’s an after-party on the white coral sand to celebrate
29 May

Puerto Rico ComicCon
San Juan
prcomiccon.com

Is your superhero costume ready? At Puerto Rico’s annual extravaganza of comics, anime, and video games, cosplay is almost obligatory. 2016’s guest of honour is artist John Romita, Jr., who for nearly four decades has given life to the adventures of Iron Man, Daredevil, Spider-Man, and other Marvel Comics icons
20 to 22 May

 

Jump into June

Giraudel and Eggleston Flower Show
Dominica

It makes sense that the Caribbean’s verdant “Nature Isle” should have not one but two “Flower Villages.” Home to resplendent gardens and horticultural farms, Giraudel and Eggleston on the slopes of Morne Anglais are also hosts for Dominica’s annual flower show
4 to 8 June

Ocho Rios Jazz Festival
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
ochoriosjazz.com

The land of reggae also boasts a fine celebration of jazz, bringing some of the island’s hottest (or should that be coolest?) musicians together with top international acts
28 May to 5 June

San Pedro Lobsterfest
San Pedro, Belize

The Caribbean is home to some of the world’s best seafood — so why not make the most of it? Belize certainly does, with a series of annual lobster festivals in various towns, perhaps none more elaborate than San Pedro’s
15 to 26 June

Tri-Nation Cricket Series
Guyana National Stadium; Warner Park, St Kitts; Kensington Oval, Barbados

The West Indies face off against visitors Australia and South Africa in a ten-game series of One Day Internationals: cue the nail-biting
6 to 26 June

Vincy Mas
Venues around St Vincent
carnivalsvg.com

The annual bacchanal season in St Vincent runs for nearly two weeks, with parties, concerts, and competitions galore
24 June to 5 July