Island hopper (July/August 2007)

What’s happening in the Caribbean in July and August

41st Carriacou Regatta Festival 2006, Grenada. Photograph courtesy Carriacou Regatta/Rawl Paterson

We don’t call it summer, but as in most places, it’s holiday season in the Caribbean. School is out, the beaches are beckoning and there are festivals galore. This time of the year gives real meaning to the phrase “fun in the sun”. And you can get the fun meter rolling in St Vincent at the annual Vincy Mas.

Festivities began at the end of June, but the real action culminates on July 10, on Mardi Gras Tuesday. Costumed bands, music trucks and spectators will throng the streets of Kingstown for this annual affair.

Follow that up with a trip to Tobago for the annual Heritage Festival, which runs from July 9 to 27. The festival aims to preserve cultural traditions and takes place all over the island. Highlights include goat and crab races and the Ole Time Tobago wedding.

If you yearn for more music, head up to Jamaica from July 15 to 21 for the popular Red Stripe Reggae SumFest. A weeklong open-air festival that takes place in scenic Montego Bay, SumFest is one of the world’s biggest reggae festivals. This year’s theme is “Jamaica’s Greatest, the World’s Best”.

Still caught up with Carnival fever? Then go to St Lucia for that country’s biggest street event on July 16 and 17. Here you can experience a traditional Caribbean carnival with a taste of French creole culture.

For even more Carnival, head off to Antigua from July 21 to August 7. Celebrating its 50th year, Antigua’s Carnival will include a national steelband competition and parade of troupes on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

If you have had your fill of Carnival, an alternative is the St Martin/St Maarten Summerfest, which runs from July 21 to 30. With its intention of being the number one Caribbean destination for summer festivals, this multicultural island organises the best in entertainment every weekend.

Also vying for the greatest summer festival prize is Nevis, which hosts Culturama. An explosion of events—calypso, village street parties, fashion shows, night dances and boat rides—Culturama runs from July 21 to August 2.

No vacation would be complete without a bit of sport, so head over to Grenada from July 29 to August 6 for the Carriacou Regatta Festival. There will be offshore and onshore activities for all.

Do you think you could dance like the stars? If not, then get some practice at the Curaçao Salsa Tour 2007. Running from July 30 to August 5, this unique event brings dancers from all over the world to salsa under the Caribbean sky while enjoying all the other beautiful things Curaçao has to offer.

August 1 is Emancipation Day in Trinidad and Tobago. In celebration of their ancestors who were freed from slavery, people of African descent don African clothes, parade through the streets and attend concerts and other events at an open-air “village” set up for the occasion.

Undoubtedly the biggest event in August is Barbados’s annual Crop Over, which begins on July 2 and ends August 10 on Grand Kadooment day.

Initially started to celebrate the sugar cane harvest, Crop Over has evolved into a hugely popular carnival event with costumed parades, a street market, parties and competitions.

Pay homage to the most romantic flower of all, the rose, at St Lucia’s Rose Festival on August 30. This festival honours the rose with pomp and ceremony, including a royal kingdom with a king, queen, dignitaries and loyal subjects.

Close off the month in Trinidad and Tobago for Independence celebrations on August 31. Catch military parades during the day and in the night, spread a blanket in the Queen’s Park Savannah to watch breathtaking fireworks.