Datebook | Caribbean Events Calendar (March/April 2017)

Events around the Caribbean in March and April, from a river race in Belize to St Patrick’s Day in St Croix — plus a drum festival, kite-flying, and cricket

Photograph by Warren Le PlatteJcariddi PhotographyPhotograph by MAT/shutterstock.comPhotograph by Gelpi/shutterstock.comPhotograph by Mbbirdy/istock.comPhoto ©Gail JohnsonPhotograph courtesy St Croix St Patrick’s Day ParadePhotograph by Christine YurickWriter Vahni Capildeo. Photograph by Hayley Madden for the Poetry SocietyA Cotton Photo/shutterstock.com

Don’t miss . . .

Phagwah (Holi) 

12 and 13 March
Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname

Known as Holi in India and Phagwah in parts of the Caribbean, the Hindu spring festival of colours and sharing love brings joy, happiness, unity (even if just for a while), and thanksgiving. Some even refer to it as the Hindu New Year. Although a religious event, it’s completely all-inclusive. No one is spared from the friendly throwing of brightly coloured gulal powder, spraying of deep purple abeer dye with homemade water guns, or the good-natured rivalry. At a fast pace and high pitch, folk songs called chowtals are sung to the accompaniment of the dholak and the majeera, both percussion instruments. You won’t be able to resist dancing. Phagwah is deep in religious significance with symbols of purification and the promotion of good health. Spread the love.

How to get there? Caribbean Airlines operates daily flights to Piarco International Airport in Trinidad, Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana, and Johann Pengel International Airport in Suriname from Caribbean and North American destinations

 

If you’re in . . .

. . . BELIZE

La Ruta Maya River Challenge
3 to 6 March
larutamaya.bz

If you think the Olympics are a challenge, consider this arduous four-day river race, where only the fittest survive. With participants coming from around the world, approximately one hundred teams of three cut along the Belize Old River, paddling 175 miles from San Ignacio, Cayo District, to downtown Belize City. It’s the longest canoe race in Central America, and there can be no substitutions.

Translated, La Ruta Maya means “the Maya Trail,” and it recalls the journey of ancient Maya travellers who paddled to the sea to trade with cities up the coast of Belize. As a tribute to these ancestors, the river challenge has been going steady for nineteen years. There’s rapid pace on the river, and in villages along the route, fairs, markets, and local music bands entertain the onlookers.

The adventure mellows during three-night stops at the Banana Bank Lodge, Double Head Cabbage, and Old River Tavern. And on the last day, which coincides with National Heroes and Benefactors Day (previously called Baron Bliss Day), the canoes flow into the celebratory fanfare in Belize City.

 

. . . BARBADOS

Sandy Lane Gold Cup
4 March
Garrison Savannah

In other islands, Carnival may have finished, but its atmosphere is still alive in Barbados at the most prestigious horseracing event in the eastern Caribbean. Thirty-six years ago, in its debut year, people climbed onto roofs near the historic Garrison Savannah to get a vantage point for the pre-Gold Cup entertainment and the race itself. The weight of the spectators caused one of the roofs to collapse, sending people helter-skelter.

The Gold Cup isn’t just for race-lovers — it’s traditional to have pomp and pageantry, and loads of family entertainment. There are activities preceding the race day, too. These include polo matches, celebrity golf tournaments and dinners, a Broadway show, and a street parade. Some of the world’s leading investors enter their horses for the race, drawn to the prestige of winning the coveted title. All this excitement leads to the main event: one race spanning nine furlongs (1,800 metres), and filled with cream-of-the-crop jockeys and horses. Maybe for race time you could become a member of the Barbados Turf Club’s Grand Stand Posse? “And they’re off!”

 

. . . GRAND CAYMAN

Kaibo Kitefest
17 April
Kaibo Beach

The beautiful kites above Kaibo dive, swirl, and soar like birds. As flighty and carefree as they may seem, some of the kites are actually performing a good deed. Not just bringing families together or making children smile: the entry fee for Grand Cayman’s annual kite competition goes directly to the Acts of Random Kindness charity, an organisation that assists people throughout the Cayman community.

Now in its eighth year, the competition includes categories like most creative and original kite, best kite flyer with the steadiest kite, oldest kite flyer, youngest kite flyer, best dressed (matching kite and costume), and most environmentally friendly kite. You’re free to build your kites beforehand, and if you need assistance you can head over to a kite-making workshop.

Kite tricks and demos by kite-boarders are also in the mix, while live music floats on the wind. The event usually runs from 1 to 5 pm, with an exciting array of attractive prizes distributed at a ceremony beginning promptly at 4. Kite flying is one of the Caribbean’s cherished Easter traditions, and on Kaibo Beach it’s free for all (unless you enter the competition).

Event previews by Shelly-Ann Inniss

 

 

Marvellous March


England cricket tour of the West Indies

Antigua, St Kitts, and Barbados
Cheer for the Windies and bask in the liveliness of the stands on the home grounds of cricket stars Curtly Ambrose and Sir Garfield Sobers, during this ODI series
3 to 9 March

 

International Drum Festival

Venues around Cuba
fiestadeltambor.cult.cu
Cubans and foreigners dance and play to Havana rhythms in masterclasses, workshops, and competitions
7 to 12 March

 

Moonsplash Festival

The Dune Preserve, Anguilla
Spend the weekend dancing in the sand to the hits of top reggae artists under the full moon and stars
9 to 12 March

 

Plein Air Curaçao Festival

Venues around Curaçao
Local and international artists of various levels capture the splendour of the “Hidden Treasure,” including underwater and air painting
9 to 18 March

 

St Patrick’s Day Parade

Christiansted, St Croix
Mobs of green can be seen for miles jamming alongside beautiful floats at this Caribbean-Irish party. Watch out for the beads!
18 March

 

Adventures in April

 

Panama International Film Festival

Venues across Panama City
Celebrate the passion, diversity, and flavour of cinema in this free week-long programme of screenings, workshops, and masterclasses
30 March to 5 April

 

Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta

Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
Graceful classic ketches, schooners, and yawls create a spectacle on the seas and vie for the prizes
19 to 25 April

 

Tobago Jazz Experience

Tobago
Phenomenal performances by local and prominent international icons will chase your worries and stress away with a Caribbean flair
22 to 30 April

 

NGC Bocas Lit Fest

Port of Spain, Trinidad
Avid readers, performers, and writers celebrate words, stories, and ideas in the heart of T&T’s capital
26 to 30 April

 

Vertical Blue Free Diving International Competition

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, the Bahamas
Every continent will be represented as divers plunge to win the title of world’s deepest male and female diver
30 April