Festive Caribbean

There’s something about the Caribbean that makes festivals there especially vibrant and intense. Perhaps it’s the warm tropic air, the scent of magnolia and sugarcane, or the playful spirit of the local people. In fact it’s all those things and more. There’s no better time to visit the Caribbean than during a festival. Here’s a look at festivals in 3 Caribbean countries – the Bahamas, Barbados and Jamaica.

The most popular festival in the Bahamas is called Junkanoo and celebrated on the 26th December and again on the 1st January. In fact the word junkanoo not only refers to the festival, but also to the elaborate carnival-like parade that’s makes up its heart.
Junkanoo begins in the early morning hours of Boxing Day and New Year’s Day when junkanoo troupes, clad in themed costumes of their choice, begin their parade or ‘rush’ through the streets of Nassau. These masked dancers whip up a musical frenzy with goat skin drums, cowbells, horns and whistles.
Junkanoo is believed to have its roots in the dark days of slavery during the 16th and 17th centuries. The slaves were allowed two days during the Xmas and New Year period to be with their families and celebrate with their traditional African music, costume and dance.

Holetown Festival
Our next Caribbean festival is on the island of Barbados in the district of Holetown, St James. Originally called Jamestown after King James 1, the name Holetown derives from the small channel near the town that was used for offloading cargo and cleaning ships. This is the site of the first English landing in Barbados in 1627 which is marked by Holetown Festival held each year from 17-23 February.
The Holetown Festival is a weeklong party beginning at the Holetown Monument. The full schedule includes beach concerts, military tatoos, steel bands, beauty contests and sports shows. Medieval songs are sung in the churches and the markets are bursting with premier Barbadian foods and arts and crafts. It’s also a time when the history of the country is brought to life through lectures and exhibitions.

Jamaica Carnival
Finally we’ll look at another Caribbean nation that knows how to celebrate with gusto – Jamaica. While Jamaica Carnival seems like a long established occasion, this event held annually in April in fact only dates back to 1990. But what it lacks in antiquity it makes up for in vibrancy.
Jamaica Carnival began when musician Byron Lee attending Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival decided that Jamaica needed a carnival of its own. The event has since grown to become one of the country’s foremost celebrations.
The week-long Jamaica Carnival features the usual fare of street dances and parades with colourful floats. The event culminates with a grand finale at the Jamaican National Stadium in Kingston. While the capital Kingston is the focus for the celebrations, other parishes such as Negril, Mandeville, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios have their own parades, fetes and Las Lap. Contestants from each parish also compete in the Jamaica Soca Monarch competition. Soca is the soul calypso music of the Caribbean.

The tropical isles of the Caribbean are great party zones at any time, but make your visit during one of the region’s many festivals and you’ll really get to experience native passion and zest. . The only difficulty with visiting the events in Jamaica might be your accommodation. Be sure to have a reservation, because Bahamas hotels or Barbados hotels could be fully booked during the festivals. Of course the Internet offers many opportunities to book Jamaica hotels in advance.

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