2BKaribbean Top 5 Most Unique Caribbean Festivals
Sometimes great things and unique festivals of the Caribbean get lost.
They get lost in the haze of sexy gyrating bodies in Carnival costumes or the accompanying vibes from the pulsating Caribbean music. Sometimes the great festivals that showcase the very unique elements of Caribbean culture get lost. But that is why we are here! To shine a light on the culture, music and arts that sometimes stay in the shadows but do so much to promote the unique elements of the Caribbean region. We kick off our series with a Top Five list of the Most Unique Caribbean festivals. The list curated by Marie-Ella Williams is by no means an exhaustive one, but, meant to share some activities that are different from the norm. Check out the list below and tell us about some of the unique Caribbean Festivals that you have experienced.
Chocolate Festival, Grenada
Dancing de cocoa is one folk tradition you’ll hear about at the Grenada Chocolate Festival held in May every year on the “spice isle” of Grenada. Now in its fifth year, the festival celebrates some of the finest and richest of cocoa beans in the world. It’s a perfect opportunity to experience everything chocolate – from sumptuous bars and rich chocolate drinks to chats with cocoa farmers and even visits to the farms where you may get an opportunity to pick cocoa and dance de cocoa yourself.
This tradition dates back to colonial days where the beans were harvested from the pods then dried on the roofs of specially constructed cocoa houses. Once the beans were dried, people literally had to dance on the beans to get rid of the extra white coating around them. The festival is chockful of talks and workshops that explain the many traditions surrounding cocoa which is a prized commodity worldwide. In fact, it’s no surprise that many visitors to this festival include world-renowned chocolatiers and haute couture chocolate houses who prize good beans!
Pineapple Festival, Bahamas
Imagine being literally in ‘pineapple heaven’ on a tiny Caribbean Island every year in June!
It’s where you’ll experience the exotic flavors of conch ceviche, pineapple seafood salad, pineapple coconut tarts, Bahama rita (margarita) and pina colada cocktails. That’s only the start of Pineapple Festival held at Gregory Town on Eleuthera Island. This one small fruit carries a world of importance for its significant contribution to export industry and revenue earning capacity for the island. No small feat for this small island and that’s why they’re now in their 31st year of celebrations. The festival celebrates all things pineapple: local dishes, eating contests, games like the Pineapple Maypole and of course music and entertainment, which attracts hundreds of visitors and locals to the festival.
Underwater Carnival, Tobago
Imagine witnessing Carnival in an underwater environment! No not that traditional Carnival with masqueraders (human) in custom-made costumes…we’re talking about nature’s parade of colorful underwater creatures that occupy our waters off the southeastern coasts in Tobago. The Association of Tobago Dive operators in collaboration with local state agencies has seen a way to turn this spectacle into an opportunity to educate and entertain while attracting hundreds who’ll learn more about the marine environment.
Tobago Underwater Carnival is held on June 11 to 18 and is now in its 8th year. It boasts of several attractions for water babes and enthusiasts who can experience dive expeditions, fish identification, marine biology workshops, diving classes, and underwater photography while enjoying an underwater spectacle.
Festival of Laughter, St Maarten.
On the tiny Dutch island of St Maarten, the Festival of Laughter hits the spot for visitors and locals alike. Dance, music and parades form the backdrop for the festival in May each year and the highpoint is a melting pot of various accents and local ‘patois’ expressions that keep you in stitches throughout. Whether it’s a short narrative on some everyday experience on the market street or in traffic jams, they all provide a rich canvas for comedy and laughter. An additional bonus is the wealth of material which comes from the 2 separate cultures that inhabit one island: the French side and the Dutch side each carry their own unique traditions and flavors for the comedy festival.https://cruiseportadvisor.com/port/philipsburg-st-maarten/ Laugh till Belly Burst is one of the events now in its 14th edition and comes off on June 23. In our fast-paced and sometimes chaotic life, we all look forward to moments of recreation and relief especially when it brings us some laughter like the Festival of Laughter in St Maarten.
Celtic Festival, Barbados
Imagine hearing the haunting sound of ‘pipes’ on a sunny Caribbean island at Barbados Celtic Festival; then seeing men dressed in full Scottish regalia with kilts and hats parade through the narrow streets of Bridgetown complete with bagpipes too! This is the scene each year on the last weekend in May when they celebrate the heritage of the islands’ Celtic inhabitants from Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Some will recall that Barbados was once an English colony until early 20th century so, like many other ethnic groups who came, many descendants consider the islands their ‘home’. In fact, those of Celtic origin form part of the national population census and represent less than 2% of the population of a predominantly black Bajan population (2017 census: total population: 280,000). Imagine the incredible fusion of culture and flavors when the Celtic pipes meet soca island rhythms!
So there you have it…some of the unique festivals that we found around the Caribbean region. Tell us about yours !